Page Revised: 6/24/06


Available Sites

Circle X Ranch
Upper Solstice Canyon
Topanga State Park
Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Cyns
Leo Carrillo State Park
Cold Creek Preserve
Point Mugu State park
Rancho Sierra Vista

Date of Review

6/24/06 & 6/15/06 & 5/31/06.
6/14/06 & 5/24/06 & 5/20/06.
6/12/06 & 6/5/06 & 5/11/06.

What's Blooming photo gallery:
What's Blooming archive:
Calendar of Events in the Santa Monica Mountains:


Circle X Ranch

Canyon View Trail

  Date: 6/24/06



        Many of the spring flowers have dried up for the season although a few can still be found scattered about if one looks carefully. Some of the true summer flowers have not gotten off to a proper start yet and consequently we are between seasons, so to speak. This trail and most of the Grotto trail have been recently brushed so it is again a pleasure to hike them in shorts. Until the Canyon View trail joins the upper section of the Grotto trail there is not much shade during the heat of the day. In the morning and evening the trail twists around enough that the steep hillsides above the trail can provide quite a bit of shade. The creeks still have water in them and this provides a pleasant variety to a trail that otherwise passes principally through dry coastal sage scrub and chaparral. Just below the campgrounds I saw the largest alligator lizard I have ever seen sunning himself on a rock. This guy, typical of the breed, allowed me to get quite close before scuttling off into the bushes. Except for some of the shrubs like bush monkey flower, deerweed, chamise, black sage, and California buckwheat, most of the flowers are scattered about in rather low numbers. Flower highlights include Scarlet Larkspur, Plummer's mariposa lily, yucca, California chicory, cliff aster, Parry's phacelia, purple clarkia, elegant clarkia, golden stars, masses of golden yarrow, yellow monkey flower, creek monkey flower, annual paintbrush, white hedge nettle, rock rose, lance-leaf dudleya, wild morning glory, heart-leaved penstemon, Turkish rugging, California wild rose, both purple and white nightshade, woolly blue curls, bush mallow, slender tarweed, and canyon sunflower. All told well over fifty species in bloom.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail

  Date: 5/24/06



        We are now moving away from the dramatic early Spring flowering season and into the more subdued displays of Summer. As such, the shady area near the Grotto becomes a lot more attractive as it gets hotter. The creek and falls still have a lot of water in them and the tadpoles and newts are a delight for the young among us. When I was down among the huge live oaks near the Grotto one of my favorites, the house wren, was singing up a storm. Many of the flowers reported earlier are now on the way out but in compensation we are beginning to see some of the very beautiful flowers that appear later in the season. Among these are the clarkias and lilies, several of which are now showing up on the Grotto Trail. In addition, right now we are getting a pretty amazing second bloom of the greenbark ceanothus. Indeed, it rivals a first bloom of some previous years. Including the flowers encountered on the dirt road leading down to the campgrounds we saw a respectable seventy species in bloom. Highlights included golden yarrow, sugar bush, several different monkey flowers, California buckwheat. deerweed, yucca, black sage, sunflowers, chamise, white and purple nightshades, a few early woolly asters, elegant and purple clarkias, wild morning glory, California blackberry, blue-eyed grass, blue dicks, red skinned onion, chinese houses, angels gilia, lance-leaf dudleya, elderberry, Catalina mariposa lily, heart-leaved penstemon, and crimson pitcher sage.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Trail

  Date: 6/15/06



        Many of the spring flowers have dried up for the season although a few can still be found scattered about if one looks carefully. Some of the true summer flowers have not gotten off to a proper start yet and consequently we are between seasons, so to speak. Some sections of the trail provide quite a bit of shade, but once you get up toward the ridge there is not much relief from the sun. On a hot day I’ll carry almost a gallon of water. The creek at split rock still has water in it and makes the picnic table in the shade under the oaks a very pleasant for lunch. There are a couple of places where poison oak hangs out over the trail (notably near split rock) and you really have to be on the watch and be able to identify it by sight to avoid getting into it. Except for some of the shrubs like Pitcher sage, bush monkey flower, deerweed, chamise, black sage, and California buckwheat, most of the flowers are scattered about in rather low numbers. Flower highlights include yellow mariposa lily, Humboldt lily, soap plant, sapphire wool stars, linanthus, woolly blue curls, yucca, purple clarkia, golden yarrow, golden stars, Turkish rugging, slender tarweed, yellow monkey flower, lance-leaf dudleya, Parry's phacelia, caterpillar phacelia, purple and white nightshades, speckled clarkia, willow-herb clarkia, cliff aster, angel's gilia, yellow pincushion, sticky cinquefoil, chaparral honeysuckle, Fish's milkwort, rock rose, chinese houses, blue larkspur, snowberry, wild morning glory, California blackberry, California wild rose, cobweb thistle, bush lupine, bush mallow, rose snapdragon, wild brodiaea, garden toadflax, and purple owl's-clover. Almost ninety species in bloom.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Upper Solstice Canyon

Backbone Trail

  Date: 6/14/06



        I was so awed by the fire following flowers when I visited three weeks ago that I made a return visit.  Things have changed.  The large flower phacelia cover an even more extensive area.  White pincushion which we didn't see last time is blooming in profusion.  However the small evening primrose are almost finished, there is very little twining snapdragon or globe gilia and no Brewers red maids to be found. 

     Moving out of the burned area the chaparral boasts a lot of slender sunflower and Turkish rugging along with golden yarrow, California buckwheat and California everlasting.

     This time we went deeper into the canyon and found a delightful full stream running surrounded by blooming flowers: Purple, elegant and willow herb clarkia, the lovely canchalagua and sapphire wool stars as well as sticky madia, fiesta flower, blue larkspur, Indian pinks, hummingbird sage, Indian paintbrush, Chinese houses, and blue eyed grass.  Being by the stream is refreshing but don't forget to plan for the uphill climb out.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Topanga State Park

Temescal Canyon Loop Trail

  Date: 6/12/06



        I was amazed at how much was in bloom in the well traveled canyon.  There is nothing that is terribly unusual but that deficit is compensated by the profusion of flowers in bloom.  Entering the trail there are wild rose, vervain hedge nettle, black sage and purple nightshade.  Heading up to the waterfall there was yucca, caterpillar phacelia, sticky monkey flower, California everlasting, golden yarrow, greenbark ceanothus, Indian pinks and scarlet monkey flower.  Near the waterfall we found a California newt, something I have never observed in this creek.  Climbing further there is deerweed, elder flower, cliff aster, morning glory and canyon sunflower.  Coming down through the chaparral there was bush sunflower, wishbone flower, white nightshade, violet snapdragon, woolly blue curls, Turkish rugging, Parry's phacelia, mallow, California bee plant and blue eyed grass.  There were a large number of lizards sighted on the chaparral side including a horned lizard.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Cheeseboro &

Palo Comado Canyons

Various north-end trails

  Date: 6/7/06



        We are now moving away from the dramatic displays of the early Spring flowering season and into the more subdued displays of Summer. Many of the flowers reported earlier are now on the way out but in compensation we begin to see some of the very beautiful Summer flowers. Among these are the clarkias, penstemons and lilies, several of which are now showing up in the north end of Cheeseboro. Trails visited include the Albertson Motorway, Palo Comado Canyon Trail, Sheep Corral Trail, Cheeseboro Ridge Trail, Sulfur Springs Trail, and Cheeseboro Canyon Trail. Much of the lower section of this unit is literally choked with non-native grasses and weeds but if you get up to the Northern end you are rewarded with some very nice wildflower displays. Some sections of some of the trails are quite good right now, but overall the quality of the flower display was quite variable from place to place. Be aware that much of this unit was burned in last fall's fires and has not been fully reopened for visitor use. Be sure to read all posted signs to avoid entering closed areas. Some of the burned areas are especially fragile right now.

        The vicinity of the intersection of Sheep Corral Trail and Palo Comado Trails was quite good at least until we dropped back down into the depths of the burn. It is interesting to see how some of the burned areas are coming back primarily as non-native weeds, but in other areas the native wildflowers are holding their own. My own curiosity will certainly keep me watching the burned areas as the year progresses. Similarly, sections of the Albertson Motorway vary considerably, but none as bad as the weed choked lower end of the unit. Right now the Sulfur Springs Trail is doing fairly well but it too is showing signs of drying up. Many of the species blooming earlier in the season have finished up for the year or are only lightly represented now. Highlights include lupines, paintbrush, datura, purple nightshade, blue dick, primroses, popcorn flowers, golden stars, heart-leaved and hillside penstemons, scarlet bugler, Rein orchid, and phacelias. The sages are doing very well now as are the mariposa lilies, clarkias, monkey flowers, morning glory, sunflowers, pincushions, golden stars, hooked navarretia, sapphire wool stars, yucca, snapdragons, yarrow and even a few early scarlet larkspur.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Poor to Good


Topanga State Park

Santa Ynez Trail

  Date: 6/5/06



        This cool dark canyon makes a great summer hike and is also worth a look in spring.  At the trail head there is sticky monkey flower, lupine and deerweed.  Once you get to the creek there is hedge nettle and white hedge nettle, purple nightshade, canyon sunflower, golden yarrow, black sage and elder flower.  There is some lovely scarlet monkey flower, California buckwheat, sweet pea, white nightshade, wild rose, caterpillar phacelia and heart leaf penstemon.  The Humboldt lilies are just starting and the ones in bloom all seem to be dangling above the trail.  There is also cinquefoil and large flower phacelia.  Leaving the riparian area the trail rises into the chaparral.  There you find chamise, owls clover, Turkish rugging and white and yellow pin cushion.  There is quite a bit of white snapdragon and scarlet bugler with dudleya and golden stars peeping through.  There is one patch each of fleabane aster and sapphire wool stars.  The riparian area is always a good place to look for butterflies and the chaparral to look for lizards and snakes.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Leo Carrillo State Park

Nicholas Flat Trail

  Date: 6/2/06



        Leo Carrillo Campground to Nicholas Flat. The hike begins with a series of switchbacks up to a ridge. Wild Rose and Gumplant can be seen in the beginning followed by Deerweed, Mustard, Monkey Flower, Purple Nightshade, Sow Thistle, California Everlasting and Ashy Buckwheat. Large clusters of Purple and Black Sage line the trail interspersed with Morning Glory, Mariposa Lily and Indian Paintbrush. Approaching the ridge we saw Scarlet Bugler and Southern Calif. Locoweed which had finished blooming but had numerous seed pods. Along the ridge we saw California Bay Laurel, Greenbark Ceanothus, Golden Yarrow, Bush Sunflower, Parry's Phacelia and many Chaparral Yucca in full bloom. During a second set of switchbacks which take you up to Nicholas Flat we encountered a magnificent show of Purple Clarkia. On the final approach to the Flat we saw Hedge Nettle, Crimson Pitcher Sage, Blue Eyed Grass, Yarrow, Red Stem Filaree, Scarlet Pimpernel, Tomcat Clover, Wooly Blue Curl, Italian Thistle and Common Vervain.  Many of the plants were in their last stages of flowering - we were on this trail four weeks ago and while the show is diminished, it is still beautiful and worth the uphill effort. Just beware of the heat - you are almost fully exposed to the sun for the three miles up. You'll also have expansive views of the ocean and the Boney Mountains on the way back down.  (R&AT)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Cold Creek Preserve &
Saddle Peak Area

Stunt High Trail & others

  Date: 6/1/06



        On the first day of June, 2006 we hiked three trails which are accessed from trailheads on Stunt Rd, most in the Cold Creek Preserve. Our objective was to check for Stream orchids first in the Cold Creek Preserve then to check out the status of the chaparral peas on Saddleback Peak area and finally to see if the brick red monkey flower found last year on the trail to Topanga lookout was still extant. I am pleased to report that all three objectives were met with outstanding results. A large stand of Stream orchids, consisting of about two dozen plants, all in full bloom were located along the creek about a quarter of a mile above the lower gate to the trail. Up near the top of Saddleback Peak dozens of profusely blooming chaparral peas were on display and finally the brick red bush monkey flower was found in full bloom, but with smaller flowers this year than last. Not only did we meet our objectives, but we also recorded a total of 76 different species during the course of the hikes. The flowers were abundant and in some cases, such as the Spanish broom, were overpowering in color and fragrance. With almost no wind blowing the bouquet from  the broom was almost suffocating.

        Just walking from the parking area to the gate (up the trail to the Stream orchids) we spotted heart-leaved penstemon, golden yarrow, California everlasting, morning glory, greenbark ceanothus, hedge mustard, red brome, sow thistle, Clarkia (Farewell-to-spring?), mustard evening primrose, caterpillar phacelia, red stem filaree, bush monkey flower, rip-gut brome, California buckwheat, coast goosefoot, slender-leaf bedstraw, black mustard, sour clover, yellow star thistle, canyon sunflower and cliff aster. Entering the gate we saw purple sage, fern leaf phacelia, eucrypta, scarlet pimpernel, minute-flowered popcorn flower, common bed straw, purple night shade, white nightshade, fiesta flower, giant horsetail, wild blackberry, watercress and finally the stream orchids

        Returning to the car we drove up to the parking area near the intersection of Schueren Rd and Stunt Rd. Hiking up toward Saddleback Peak we Saw Italian thistle, elderberry, deerweed, slender oats, yellow Mariposa lily, chamise, black sage, blue dick, lance-leaf live-forever, prickly phlox, Harding grass, hairy leaf ceanothus, Catalina Mariposa lily, bush lupine, bigpod ceanothus, winter vetch and some escaped African daisies. Also seen was fountain grass, foxtail barley, lots of Spanish broom, wild oats, sticky madia, Chilean clover, wild sweet pea, Indian pink and then the large quantities of chaparral pea. Continuing up toward the top of the mountain we saw southern Tauschia, wooly blue curls, Eastwood manzanita, blue larkspur, silver puff, large-flowered lotus, bur clover, bush poppy, golden star and milk thistle.

        We returned to the car and entered the trail to Topanga lookout. Entering on the macadam road we noted holly-leaved redberry, virgin's bower, chaparral honeysuckle, California filago, yucca and finally the brick red bush monkey flower (UTM coordinates 49026E, 73046N at 2454 feet altitude).

        This hike rates an excellent on the bloom-o-meter.  (RWM)


Naturalist's rating:  Excellent


Upper Solstice Canyon

Backbone Trail

  Date: 5/24/06



        Backbone Trail from Corral Canyon Rd. toward Castro Crest

        This is a perfect hike to see chaparral recovering from fire and to see flowers that are seldom seen except after fires.  The hillside is covered with the blackened skeletons of burnt shrubs.  Underneath is a carpet of flowers.  Twining snapdragon, small evening primrose, fern leaf phacelia and the impressive large flower phacelia spread for as far as the eye can see.  There are also wild cucumber, eucrypta and monkey flower.  A bit further along the trail these flowers are joined by whispering bells, Brewer's red maids and globe gilia.  There are a few collarless poppies here and there. Also blue dicks, mariposa lilies and mustard evening primrose.

        When you cross out of the burned area you have an excellent opportunity to see what the flora would look like had it not burned.  Here there are flowering yucca, California buckwheat, sticky monkey flower, purple nightshade, golden yarrow, wild morning glory, bush sunflower, chamise, popcorn flower and California everlasting.  There are also wooly blue curls, lots of rock rose, caterpillar phacelia, purple clarkia and red skinned onion growing in a flowing creek.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Excellent


Newton and Upper Solstice Canyons

Backbone Trail

  Date: 5/20/06



        Backbone Trail Sections including Kanan Road to Latigo Canyon Road and crossing over Latigo Canyon Road and continuing to the end of Corral Canyon Road through Upper Solstice Canyon.

        This hike was a make-up of the fifth of the 2005-2006 Backbone Trail NPS Series.  The originally scheduled hike was rained out on March 11th and rescheduled.  For the wildflower enthusiast, the rescheduled hike was a blessing in disguise as we encountered at least 94 flowering plants.  The weather began overcast, but soon cleared to sunny conditions.  The total hike distance was approximately 6.5 miles.

        Starting at the overflow parking area just north of the main Kanan Road trailhead we went down to the main Backbone Trail junction and proceeded south towards the Newton Canyon waterfalls.  From the parking area we noticed black mustard, Spanish broom, sticky monkey flower, deer weed, yucca, tree tobacco, yellow sweet clover, milk thistle, big pod ceanothus, chicory, black sage, chamise, and red-stemmed filaree.  Once on the trail we spotted caterpillar phacelia, purple nightshade, popcorn flower, scarlet pimpernel, greenbark ceanothus, wishbone bush, windmill pink, eucrypta, heart leafed penstemon, sugar bush, California everlasting, parry's phacelia, wild cucumber, figwort, miner's lettuce, fiesta flower, hedge nettle, canyon sunflower, bur-chervil, snowberry, holly leafed cherry, willow-herb clarkia, purple clarkia, blue larkspur, horehound, and golden yarrow.

        As the trail emerged from Newton Canyon we continued up and over the tunnel and east towards Latigo Canyon Road.  Along the way we identified mountain mahogany, cobweb thistle, Indian paintbrush, elderberry, California buckwheat, coulter's lupine, vervain, chinese houses, bedstraw, chia, bush lupine, sticky cinquefoil, scarlet pitcher sage, blue-eyed grass, wild hyacinth, canyon pea, mariposa lily, purple sage, dove lupine, coast live oak, coffee berry, California black walnut, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, morning glory, woodland stars, slender sunflower, globe gilia, and foothill penstemon.

        Crossing Latigo Canyon Road we noted bush poppy, Indian pink, milkmaids, elegant clarkia, stinging lupine, poison oak, wooly blue curls, yellow monkey flower, rock rose, long-beaked filaree, common groundsel, and fern-leaved phacelia.  Continuing down into Upper Solstice Canyon we observed tomcat clover, scarlet bugler, blackberry, collarless poppy, red-skinned onion, globe lily, twining snapdragon, star lily, skullcap, Turkish rugging.  Just before the end of the trail at the top of Corral Canyon Road we entered a recently burned area covered with large flowered phacelia, coastal lotus, red maids, and small evening primrose.  (GS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Point Mugu State park

Various south-west corner trails

  Date: 5/19/06



        We started at the Chumash trailhead and hiked up the steep hill to the Mugu Peak trail and then to the La Jolla Valley Loop trail and finally down to the coast on the La Jolla Canyon trail. We had a friend drop us off at the Chumash trailhead so that we could walk back to the car we left at the La Jolla Trailhead. This avoids the two mile hike along PCH between these two trailheads. In paces we ran into both wood ticks and mosquitoes so protective clothing and perhaps repellent might be a good idea. These trails are narrow and poison oak is right along the edge of the trail in several places. If you are not familiar with it you might want to bring a friend who is. As with most trails that pass through multiple ecosystems there was a good variety of flowers, almost a hundred different in bloom, some in good quantities. Highlights include wild morning glory, giant coreopsis, canyon sunflower, Indian paintbrush, bush monkey flower, creek monkey flower, scarlet monkey flower, deerweed, bush mallow, black sage, purple sage, scarlet pitcher sage, yarrow, golden yarrow, cliff aster, Catalina mariposa lily, blue-eyed grass, yucca, oxalis, lance-leaf live-forever, wishbone bush, blue dicks, Southern California locoweed, Parry's phacelia, caterpillar phacelia, both bigpod ceanothus and greenbark ceanothus in a second bloom, bladderpod, Coulter's lupine, bush lupine, purple and white nightshade, chinese houses, golden stars, blue larkspur, Indian pink, hedge nettle, elderberry, Carolina geranium, snowberry, California blackberry, sticky cinquefoil, California figwort, gumplant, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, willow-herb clarkia, farewell-to-spring, and California loosestrife.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Rancho Sierra Vista

Satwiwa Garden

  Date: 5/14/06



        There is a nice display of wildflowers at the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa Native Plant Garden. You can see creek monkey flower (yellow with red spots), sticky monkey flower, onions, golden currant (berries), fuchsia flowered gooseberry (berries), all three sages (black, purple and white) and hummingbird sage too. Lots of native grasses are in the fenced area which protects them from the native rabbits. At the beginning of the garden path are bladderpod, both yellow and white yarrow and lots of prickly pear cactus (both flowers and fruits).  The little garden path has a lot of flowers to see, plus (on weekends) you can visit the beautiful artwork display at the Satwiwa Culture Center. Of course, on any day you can come and walk around the area or walk onto the Satwiwa loop trail and see fields of non native mustard (yellow) and radish (pink, white and rose) as well as the flowers of purple vetch sticking up among them.  (SB)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Topanga State Park

Hondo Canyon &

Topanga Meadows

  Date: 5/11/06



        The creek runs right alongside Old Topanga Rd.  Find rocks to scramble across on and the trail takes you up to a meadow that is filled with blue eyed grass interspersed with mariposa lilies and buttercups, rigid hedge nettle stands at the edge of the woods.  The trail climbs through the meadow and enters the woods where there are deerweed, canyon sunflower and sticky monkey flower.  There is an area that is completely covered in hummingbird sage.  Just beautiful.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good



Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360




Thank you


for your contributions:


Burt Elliot
Dorothy Steinicke
Greg Sweel
Jack Gillooly
Judy Joy Lively
Kathy Jonokuchi
Ken Low
Lynne Haigh
Matt Friedman
Michael Charters
Ralph Waycott
Richard & Agnes Thaler
Robert W. Maughmer
Sheila Braden
Tony Valois

If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408