Page Revised: 8/9/08


Available Site Reviews

Circle X Ranch

Point Mugu State Park

Solstice Canyon

Date of Review

8/9, 8/4, 8/2. 6/26.

8/7, 6/23.


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        This late in the year it can be hard to find flowers except in the more sheltered nooks and crannies. The heat also makes these same sheltered areas, often with shady groves of trees, a more pleasurable hike. Both the morning and the evening can be very pleasant and will often reward us with more encounters will wildlife as well (animals are smart about the heat.) The flower hunt may now be more of a challenge but also more rewarding when some elusive treasure is found. Summer is also a time to inspect the many different forms that fruit and seed capsules can take, some of which are quite interesting if not beautiful in their own right. By the way, don’t forget that you dog is much less able to deal with the heat than we are. Every year people kill their dogs on our hot summer trails, and we do mean literally kill them dead.  –ed.




Circle X Ranch

Canyon View Trail.

  Date: 8/9



        We hiked up Yerba Buena Road from the little park office to the Sandstone Peak Trailhead and then back down by way of the Canyon View Trail.  The roadside itself had very little in bloom along it, even most of the weeds having given up for the year.  There were a few holly-leaved cherries ripe along the road and while sweet, they have so little flesh surrounding their huge stone that I sample them mostly out of misplaced optimism.  The deeper pools in the creek bed still have a bit of water in them and this has allowed some flowers to keep blooming there beyond the time when they’ve quit elsewhere.  All together we saw less that twenty different plants in bloom including the hold-outs in the creek bed.  Highlights include redshank, annual paintbrush, white hedge-nettle, California fuschia, chalk Dudleyas, a few bush monkey flowers, narrow-leaved milkweed, one or two bird’s beak, twiggy wreath plant, a pretty spectacular display of dodder in full bloom (and smelling sweetly), some slender tarweed, a few cliff aster, scattered cudweed aster and some narrow-leaved cattail .  With the exception of the red shank we did not see anything blooming in quantity so I would call this a pretty poor showing.   –ed.


Point Mugu State Park

Fossil and Old Boney Trails

  Date: 8/7



        We hiked up the Fossil Trail and then South on the Old Boney Trail for another mile or so. The lower part of the trail is shaded and pleasant but once you get up above the trees there is very little shelter from the sun.  The day was hot so we turned back after spending a while admiring the view.  We saw very few flowers in bloom, fewer than different ten species, and not much to write about at that.  A bit of dried up larkspur, some twiggy wreath plant, a couple of different buckwheats (including the rather uncommon E. cithariforme) some slender tarweed, some California fuschia, and a few bush mallow blossoms.   –ed.


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail.

  Date: 8/4



        We took our time on a warm afternoon to look carefully for flowers of all sizes and types. Even so we barely managed to find twenty different species in bloom and none in any significant quantity (although red shank could be seen blooming in quantity on the nearby hills.) There are few highlights to report since a good many of the flowers we encountered were of the “weedy” road-side variety like mustards and thistles. Highlights include red shank, California fuschia, scarlet monkey flower, heart-leaved penstemon, a few stray bush mallow, leather root, some cudweed aster, a single morning glory blossom and some scattered cliff asters. Even for deep in the summer this was a rather poor showing. On the other hand the lack of flowers made it easier (for a die-hard plant watcher) to focus on other aspects of hiking in these great outdoors. The isolation at Circle X Ranch allowed me to imagine I was many miles from civilization. The day was lovely and the scenery clear in the fresh coastal air. I heard and saw many birds. There were frequent encounters with friendly lizards. I stopped and sat down really enjoyed watching the multitudes of tadpoles in the pools around the Grotto.  –ed.


Solstice Canyon


  Date: 8/2



        Recovery from the November 2007 burn is going nicely at this site which reopened in late June. You’ll see new growth all over, from many different kinds of monkey flowers (scarlet, bush and creek) in or near Solstice creek, to clumps of new leaves and branches up and down the trunks of the trees all throughout the canyon.

Commonly seen were mallow, chicory, morning glory and tarweed. Watch for occasional glimpses of canyon and slender sunflower, pinks, white and purple nightshade, ashy-leaf buckwheat and ripe elderberries. Up at the Roberts Ranch, non-native ginger is in bloom.  Rating: good.  (Sheila Braden)


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Loop

  Date: 7/30



        I have never done this hike in summer.  I always figured that the flowers would be done and it would be too hot to be comfortable.  But I went with some friends in the afternoon, went to Split Rock first and timed our walk to be done about sunset. 

        The biggest attraction was the red shanks in bloom.  What usually looks like a hillside of light green puffs is now a hillside of white puffs.  These are contrasted against the many dark red seed pods that are more common on the slopes than flowers.  The chalk-live-forever are in bloom and as beautiful as they are bizarre.  At Split Rock, where there is still water in the creek, there is blooming leather root, scarlet monkey flower and Durango root.  A little ways further on there is a patch of scarlet sequestered in the shrubbery with scarlet larkspur and heart leaf penstemon keeping company.  Additionally there is a little cudweed aster, a few California buckwheat and slender tarweed still blooming.  It was a surprisingly pleasant hike.  (Dorothy Steinicke)


Circle X Ranch

Grotto and Canyon View Trails.

  Date: 6/26



        We did a quick scope of the upper Grotto Trail and the lower portion of the Canyon View Trail and discovered about forty different flowers in bloom. Some of the highlights include the California fuschia (which is just beginning), both the lance-leaf and chalk Dudleyas, three different monkey flowers, scarlet larkspur, heart-leaved penstemon, a couple of different clarkia’s, bush mallow, narrow-leaved milkweed, bird’s beak, morning glory, Plummer’s mariposa lily, Toyon, Perezia, white pincushion, twiggy wreath plant,  a pretty spectacular display of dodder in full bloom, and even a few Yuccas still looking quite nice.  –ed.


Point Mugu State Park

Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail

  Date: 6/23



        The flower display is rapidly diminishing with the very hot weather of the past week. The excitement this morning was a stunted Humboldt lily (my first of the year) and several Chalk live-forevers with their lantern-like flowers. Also impressive was a hillside of decomposing shale with a pretty grouping of Scarlet larkspur.  There also was a large dark rattlesnake across the trail with an impressive array of rattles. The tongue kept curling in my direction as I stood stationary. I made a slight noise and the snake turned and left the trail. Enough excitement to make the hike well worth while.  (Burt Elliott)



Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360






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or phone Tony at 310-457-6408