Page Revised: 7/8/05


Available Sites

Point Mugu State Park
Malibu Creek State Park
Circle X Ranch
Zuma/Trancas Canyons
Topanga State Park

Date of Review

7/1/05, 6/30/05
6/28/05, 6/14/05, 6/5/05
6/18/05, 6/17/05, 6/12/05

What's Blooming photo gallery:

What's Blooming archive:

Find Santa Monica Mountains wildflower walks:


Point Mugu State Park

Serrano Canyon and Big Sycamore Canyon Trails

 Date: 7/1/05



        This report begins in the Serrano Valley and follows a little used trail through Serrano Canyon, down the last mile of Big Sycamore Canyon to the Pacific Coast Highway. I hiked up Sycamore Canyon to Serrano Valley to a destination and the flowers were so good I decided to record them on the return, so this report begins in Serrano Valley. The out and back distance from the day parking lot at Sycamore Canyon is 7.6 miles. Seventy one species were identified. Do be cautious of poison oak on this trail.

        Beginning in the grassland were Bush Mallow, Cliff Aster, California Buckwheat, Chicory, Black Mustard, Slender Tarweed, and Slender Aster. In small clumps of chaparral, becoming denser as the trails dips into the canyon were Laurel Sumac, Chemise, Deerweed, Morning Glory, and Black Sage. There are stands of Toyon with limbs bending, heavy with flowers. One Golden Star was seen among an abundance of Purple Sage, Bird’s Beak, Bush Monkey Flower, and Narrow Leaved Milkweed; and less common are California Fuchsia and Horehound. Creek Monkey Flowers are at most of the many stream crossings, with Scarlet Monkey Flower much less frequent. At the upper end of the canyon are many Heart Leaf Penstemon, Plummer’s Mariposa Lilies, and Scarlet Larkspur. A new sighting for me turned out to be the rare Cream Bush. Only one of the largest plants still had blossoms, but there is a sizable distribution along several hundred feet of trail. Farewell-to-Spring, Honeysuckle, and Indian Pink are distributed along most of the trail. Bright red Rose Hips now outnumber Wild Rose blooms. A few Humboldt Lilies are still blooming along a section of trail where the sound of the rushing stream is muffled by many ferns on both sides of the trail. Also seen in the canyon were Yucca, Twiggy Wreath Plant, Chalk Live-Forever, Lance Leaved Live-Forever, Fleabane Aster, and Hedge Nettle. Turning down Big Sycamore Canyon, the trail is lined with Poison Hemlock, Elderberry, large Datura blossoms, Castor Bean, and Wild Elderberry.  (BE)


Naturalist's rating:  Very Good


Rancho Sierra Vista &

Point Mugu State Park

Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail

 Date: 6/30/05



        We hiked a loop beginning at Rancho Sierra Vista on the Satwiwa Loop Trail and headed out to the waterfalls in Upper Sycamore Canyon. From there we headed down the Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail to the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road and then back to the parking lot at RSV, perhaps a total of four miles. About seventy five different species were encountered, but because many are of the weedy variety or only lightly represented we only give a rating of good.

        Highlights include Slender Tarweed, Turkey Mullein, Spanish Clover, Narrow-leaved Milkweed, Gum Plant, Bush Mallow, Morning Glory, Soap Plant, Long-beaked Filaree, California Poppy, Laurel Sumac, Toyon, Elderberry, Cliff Aster, Twiggy Wreath Plant, a good showing of Plummer's Mariposa Lily, a couple Humboldt Lily, Farewell-to-Spring, Elegant Clarkia, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Scarlet Larkspur, Bush Monkey Flower, Scarlet Monkey Flower, Round-leaved Boykinia, Yarrow, Bush Lupine, California Wild Rose, Fish's Milkwort, Snowberry, Pitcher Sage, Crimson Pitcher Sage, Leather Root, Fleabane Aster, Branching Phacelia, Large-flowered Phacelia, Bird's Beak, and Indian Pink.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Malibu Creek State Park

Miscellaneous trails near the main entrance

 Date: 6/28/05



        We hiked several of the trails between the main entrance parking lot and Century Lake including the whole length of the beautiful Mott Adobe trail. As elsewhere wildflowers are on the wane, but the appearance of some of the summer bloomers reminds us that there are still plenty of reasons to get and enjoy the view. About ninety species were encountered, but because many are of the weedy variety or only lightly represented we only give a rating of good,

        Twiggy Wreath Plant, Slender Tarweed, California Wild Rose, Elderberry, Purple Clarkia, Elegant Clarkia, Farewell-to-Spring, Vinegar Weed, Narrow-leaved Milkweed, Bush mallow, Annual Paintbrush, Cattail, Speedwell, Wand Mullein, Turkey Mullein, Cliff Aster, White Sage, Purple Sage, Golden Yarrow, Morning Glory, Turkish Rugging, Caterpillar Phacelia, Sticky Phacelia, Branching Phacelia, Sticky False-gilia, Chaparral Honeysuckle, Foothill Penstemon, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Gourd, Gum Plant, Soap Plant, Datura, Woolly Blue Curls, Fleabane Aster, Matilija Poppy, Toyon, Wild Heliotrope, Long-beaked Filaree, Indian Milkweed, Chalk-leaved Live-forever, Lance-leaved Live-forever, California Fuchsia, and Water Cress.  (TV).


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail

 Date: 6/18/05



        We started from the group campground and walked down to the Grotto and back, a round trip of about 2.5 miles. The trail has been recently brushed so it was a pleasure to walk. Now heading into summer we were pleased to see some of our favorite flowers including Plummer's Mariposa Lily, Humboldt Lily, Bush Mallow, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Scarlet Monkey Flower, Fleabane Aster, and Scarlet Larkspur. Lately I've been seeing California Fuchsia in several places here at Circle X and was pleased to see they are beginning to bloom on the Grotto trail as well. All told we encountered almost 70 species in bloom. Other highlights include California Wild Rose, Soap Plant, Bush Monkey Flower, Yellow Monkey Flower, Elegant Clarkia, Farewell-to-Spring, Toyon, Woolly Blue Curls, Elderberry, White Nightshade, Morning Glory, Golden Yarrow, Golden Stars, Indian Pink, Fish's Milkwort, Bird's Beak, Western Thistle, and even a holdout Catalina Mariposa Lily.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Very Good


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Trail

 Date: 6/17/05



        On 6/17/05 we hiked the Mishe Mokwa trail primarily to see the reported rein orchids. We missed them on the way out to Split Rock, but found two of them on the return trip. It was well worth the trip in the all day drizzle to see them. A very light drizzle persisted all day, but the moisture on the trail side vegetation is what soaked us. Some 68 species were found to be blooming and because of the quality and general quantity of each a very good rating is bestowed on this trail. It seemed to be the day of the monocots which are frequently so colorful in display. Amongst these as well as the rein orchid were Plummer's Mariposa lily, yellow Mariposa lily, golden star, yucca, peninsular onion, Humboldt lily, and soap plant. Seven or eight of the Humboldt lily plants were spotted along the way, some sporting as many as five blooms plus more buds.

        Starting at the eastern most trailhead off Yerba Buena Rd. we encountered hedge mustard, golden yarrow, Calif. buckwheat, purple Clarkia, yellow star thistle, chamise and Calif filago. A large quantity of Turkish rugging was present and still some wooly blue curls, black sage, birds beak, slimy monkey flower and slender tarweed. The laurel sumac is nearing full bloom accompanied by bush mallow, bristly popcorn flower, scarlet larkspur, sticky madia, lance-leaf live-forever, bush monkey flower and toyon. Continuing along the trail we saw Calif. everlasting, morning glory, Calif. chicory, Parry's phacelia, white pincushion, yellow monkey flower, a lot of white pitcher sage and speckled Clarkia. Cliff aster, red stem filaree, blow wives, and heartleaf penstemon were also seen. A hairy leaf ceanothus was still blooming and purple night shade, small flowered fiddleneck, imbricate phacelia, canyon sunflower and several chalk live-forevers provided accompaniment.

        After the first Humboldt lily we spotted chaparral honeysuckle, bush lupine, owl's clover, gold field, narrow leaf bedstraw, scarlet monkey flower, vervain, windmill pink, wild strawberry, curly dock, wild rose, horehound, American winter cress and elderberry all in the vicinity of split rock. We attempted to continue on to balanced rock, but the condition of that trail and the moisture on the brush overgrowing it discouraged us from proceeding further than a third of the way. On the way back we picked up the following blooms that we had previously missed: California thistle, coffee berry bush, Chinese houses, caterpillar phacelia, virgin's bower (large seed puffs), angels gilia and of course the rein orchids.  (RWM).


Naturalist's rating:  Very Good


Malibu Creek State Park

Tapia Spur Trail

 Date: 6/14/05



        We only hiked the section of this trail between the entrance road of the Salvation Army camp in Tapia Park to the group campsite in Malibu Creek State Park, a bit less than a mile. Highlights include Indian Milkweed, Narrow-leaved Milkweed, Golden Yarrow, Foothill Penstemon, Canchalagua, Sticky False Gilia, Chamise, Common Vervain, Purple Clarkia, Elegant Clarkia, Woolly Blue Curls, Bush Mallow, White Snapdragon, Woolly Monkey Flower, Yellow Monkey Flower, Bush Monkey Flower, Scarlet Larkspur, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Elderberry, Indian Pink, Honeysuckle, Toyon, Yellow Pincushion, White Pincushion, Twiggy Wreath Plant, Turkish Rugging, Bush Poppy, Purple Nightshade, Branching Phacelia, Cliff Aster, Lance-leaf Live-Forever, Yucca, Mustard Evening Primrose, Long-beaked Filaree, White Sage and a couple of different Sunflowers.  (TV).


Naturalist's rating:  Very Good


Lower Zuma Canyon

Ocean View &
Canyon View trails

 Date: 6/13/05



        Although the lower trails in lower Zuma Canyon tend to be rather "weedy," the upper ones can provide a nice display of native wildflowers. The Ocean View / Canyon View loop is only a little over two and a half miles, but the elevation change adds significantly to the workout. I also added the short Scenic Trail loop and found a couple of nice flowers there as well. Parts of the Canyon View trail had an annoying burden of star thistle and made wearing shorts uncomfortable. Over 70 species of flowers were seen, although there are many "weedy" ones in this count and some are only lightly represented as they are on their way out for the season. Sections of the trail were worthy of a very good rating although most was only good.

        Highlights include Datura, Elderberry, Common Vervain, Bush Mallow, Canyon Sunflower, Yucca, Horehound, Turkey Mullein, White Nightshade, Branching Phacelia, Morning Glory, Cliff Aster, Yarrow, Golden Yarrow, Bush Lupine, Twiggy Wreath Plant, California Poppy, Bush Monkey Flower, Creek Monkey Flower, Scarlet Monkey Flower, Toyon, Black Sage, Purple Sage, Gum Plant, Western Thistle, Indian Paintbrush, Indian Pink, Soap Plant, Plummer's Mariposa Lily, several Dudleyas, Chamise, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Chaparral Honeysuckle and Fish's Milkwort.  (TV).


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Circle X Ranch

Sandstone Peak via the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead

 Date: 6/12/05



        Our main purposes on this hike were to visit Sandstone Peak and to check on the progress of the Rein Orchids on the Mishe Mokwa trail. These inconspicuous slow growing plants are finally beginning to bloom, rewarding the real die hard flower enthusiast. The variety of flowers is down as we head into summer, although this section of trail is never spectacular in that particular way.

        Many of the fifty or so species encountered are of the "weedy" variety or on their last legs, so to speak. However, there are still respectable displays of Bush Lupine, Yellow Monkey Flower, Woolly Blue Curls, Black Sage, Chamise, Deerweed, Yucca, Caterpillar Phacelia, and the Clarkias, although they are on their way out.

        Still going strong are California Buckwheat, Bush Monkey Flower, Turkish Rugging, Golden Yarrow, Lance-leaf Live-forever, Golden Stars, Yellow Mariposa Lily, Branching Phacelia, Heart-leaved Penstemon, Flax-Flowered Linanthus, Chaparral Honeysuckle and Pitcher Sage.

        Early yet in their blooming cycle are Scarlet Larkspur, Slender Tarweed, Soap Plant, Bird's Beak, Chalk Live-forever, Rein Orchid, and the magnificent Humboldt Lily.   (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Topanga State Park

Santa Ynez Trail

 Date: 6/9/05



        This trail can be accessed either from Trippet Ranch above or the end of Vereda de la Montura Street off of Palisades Drive in Palisades Highlands.  The accounting travels from low to high.

        Entering the trail you are immediately in a shady riparian habitat.  There is still a lot of water in the creek.  At the start of the trail there are black sage, bush mallow, bush lupine, white nightshade and California buckwheat.  Going deeper into the woods was sticky monkey flower, purple nightshade, California poppy, golden yarrow, canyon sunflower and the best treat; multitudes of Humboldt lilies dangling from tall plants.  At the marked cross trail you can go right to the waterfall, which is a lovely hike but this day I went left toward Trippet Ranch.  Very shortly on the left you see cream bush in full flower cascading down the rock wall.  Continuing through the woods there are caterpillar phacelia, farewell-to-spring, Santa Monica dudleya, hedge nettle, blackberry flower, chicory and eucrypta. 

        Abruptly the trail turns uphill and into chaparral.  This brings an entirely different array of beautiful flowers.  There are white snapdragons by the hundreds, chamise, Turkish rugging, yellow monkey flower, white pincushion, deerweed and some spectacular chalk live-forever.  There is a spot where low along the trail are the beautiful canchalagua mixed with owl's clover, scarlet bugler, slender tarweed, heart leaf penstemon and California everlasting.  Suddenly we were surrounded by hundreds of scarlet larkspur, many 10 feet tall.  There were many Plummer's mariposas.  Now low along the trail are sapphire wool stars and a bit further fleabane aster.  There were lots of different varieties of lizards and of butterflies.  Views are incredible.  It was the best hike I've taken this year.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Excellent


Malibu Creek State Park

Cistern trail to Crags road

 Date: 6/5/05



        On 6/5/05 we hiked down the Cistern Trail off Mulholland Hwy. to Crags road to its end at Malibu Lake. Our objective was to see the blooms on a California false indigo reported near the western end of Crags Dr. in Malibu Creek State Park. We found the false indigo, but unfortunately it had completed its blooming so we saw the foliage and dried out blooms only. The hike though was an unqualified success though with 96 species blooming including the grasses. The quantity could be described only as bountiful, so an excellent rating is given. Eight species could not be immediately identified in the field, but subsequent research provided firm to tentative names of the new sightings. The new ones for me were: flax-flowered linanthus, Indian tobacco, western blue flax, stinky gilia, rose snapdragon and what I believe was several large stands of horseradish. Other sightings which I have seldom seen were California milkweed, white sage and a brilliant red purple Clarkia.

        Flowers in bloom in the white/cream color group were cliff aster, chamise, California buckwheat, matilija poppy, white snapdragon, bristly popcorn flower and yucca. There were also California chicory, soap plant, morning glory, eucrypta, English plantain and mugwort. Poison hemlock seems to be getting more plentiful than desired, but we also spotted elderberry, imbricate phacelia, California filago, Datura, narrow leaf milkweed and common yarrow.

        In the yellow/gold/orange group we encountered hedge mustard, yellow star thistle, deerweed, slender tarweed, golden yarrow, bush monkey flower, yellow monkey flower, sour clover, slender bedstraw, sticky madia, gumplant, golden star, California coffee berry bush, western wallflower, and black mustard. The usual prickly sow thistle and telegraph weed were seen as well as California poppy, lance leaf dudleya, Spanish broom, creek monkey flower, slimy monkey flower and a magnificent Humboldt lily sporting 3 fully opened blooms and an additional 7 more waiting their turns. Present along the way was sweet fennel, collarless Calif. poppy, Barnaby's star thistle, pineapple weed, yellow Mariposa lily, and bush sunflower.

        Present in the lavender/blue/purple color group were Italian thistle, black sage, bush mallow, greenbark ceanothus, Chinese houses, and purple nightshade. Others in this group were wooly blue curls, purple sage, elegant Clarkia, caterpillar phacelia, vervain and purple Clarkia (the lavender and purple variety). Speckled Clarkia, blue larkspur, winter vetch, red stem filaree, and several nice stands of foothill penstemon. Turkish rugging was plentiful, and long-beaked filaree, dove lupine, speedwell and milk thistle were also found.

        Pink/rose/red were represented by coast paint brush, heart leaf penstemon, scarlet pimpernel, Plummer's Mariposa lily and California thistle. Equal billing must be provided as well for the Indian pink, Calif. wild rose, chaparral honeysuckle, and snowberry.

        Other sightings include giant rye, Harding grass, coffee fern, curly dock, umbrella sedge, rabbit’s foot grass, and rye grass.  (RWM).


Naturalist's rating:  Excellent




Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360


Ph. 805-370-2301




Thank you


for your contributions:


Burt Elliot
Dorothy Steinicke
Jack Gillooly
Kathy Jonokuchi
Ken Low
Lynne Haigh
Michael Charters
Matt Friedman
Robert W. Maughmer
Sheila Braden
Tony Valois

If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408