Page Revised: 9/7/08


Available Site Reviews

Zuma Canyon

Point Mugu State Park

Circle X Ranch

Solstice Canyon

Date of Review


8/21, 8/7.

8/16, 8/9, 8/4, 8/2, 7/30.


What's Blooming photo gallery:
What's Blooming archive:
Calendar of Events:


        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 your dog is much less able to deal with the heat than people are. Every year people kill their dogs on our hot summer trails, and we do mean literally kill them dead.  If you are feeling hot your poor pet could already be approaching heat exhaustion.  –ed.



Zuma Canyon

Zuma Canyon Trail.

  Date: 9/7



        When the morning fog is just starting to lift, is the perfect time to hike lower Zuma Canyon as the summer ends. Yellows and reds were the colors of the day as we hiked in on the Zuma Canyon Trail. Yellows were massed everywhere – from the golden leaves of the sycamores and walnuts just starting to change color, to the individual yellow flowered plants, like scale broom, false tarragon, and sawtooth goldenbush. There are lots of red-leaved poison oak, along with the pink and purple tones of ashy-leaf buckwheat, milkwort, wooly aster, California buckwheat  and sugarbush. This was a very pleasant trail and the flower rating is good.   (Sheila Braden & Jack Gillooly)


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Trail.

  Date: 8/23



        We hiked out to Split Rock on the Mishe Mokwa Trail and then hiked back the same way.  Very few flowers in evidence but the day was lovely, if a bit hazy.  On a good day you can see all the way to Mount Baldy from this trail but not this time.  A couple of the things I like about this trail is that there is (relatively) few big hills to climb and the trail is an old, established, narrow trail.  Park guidelines for the construction of new trails generally leads to a wide, modern thoroughfare that can lack the romance of a hike along a secluded woodland footpath.  I have been continually impressed by the abundance of wild cherries this year and there were many for the picking on this trail too (please remember that you can pick to sample as you go but harvesting for later is considered removal of protected resources.)  The creek at split rock has dried up to the point it is now a series of shallow pools but the riparian plants still have plenty of water to keep them happy and indeed, there were still scarlet monkey flowers about.  When we got to split rock a group was enjoying the picnic area and we had a nice chat about the climbing rocks to the East.  It became an opportunity to take my companion out that way and look at  Balanced Rock  up close. There are no real trails leading over the broken landscape and there is a lot of poison oak so the trek out that way is not for the average weekend hiker.  We are starting to see more of the fall colors come in now, especially in the deciduous plants like poison oak.  A very nice hike even if the flower report is nothing to write home about.   –ed.


Point Mugu State Park

Blue Canyon and Old Boney Trails

  Date: 8/21



        We hiked about a two mile section of the Backbone Trail starting at the Danielson multi-use area and going east and south.  The trail segments included were the Blue Canyon Trail and then south on the Old Boney Trail until its intersection with the Chamberlin Rock Trail.  We started well before 7:00am which was near ideal since most of the ascent was in the shade of the hills to the east.  The beginning of the hike is down among the trees along the dry creek bed but then ascends into chaparral and even some scattered sage scrub. We spent a few hours at the top and then descended back down the way we came.  It was interesting to see the difference in the mix of flowers blooming between the cool of the morning and the noonday heat.  Generally more flowers are blooming later but there are some you will miss if you only hike later in the day.  Overall there were less than twenty different species in bloom and not many of most of them, but not too bad for this time of year.

        Highlights included California fuchsia, telegraph weed, some cudweed aster, twiggy wreath plant, a couple of different buckwheat, narrow-leaved milkweed, slender tarweed, a few cliff aster, bush mallow, mule fat, canyon dodder, and even some very nice wild rose.   –ed.


Circle X Ranch

Sandstone Peak Trail.

  Date: 8/16



        We hiked up to Sandstone Peak from the trailhead on Yerba Buena Road and then back down again.  This is not the best trail for flowers but the views are second to none in the Santa Monica Mountains. Indeed, many people do this hike precisely because it offers a hike to the highest peak in the mountains.  There was a good breeze blowing the day we did the hike which was fortunate since this trail offers little shelter from the sun and can be a real scorcher on a hot day.  Combine that with a long uphill ascent and it may not be the best choice for your children or elderly parents on a sunny day.  Highlights included some rather nice Tejon milk-aster, a few left-over red shank, a few cliff aster, twiggy wreath plant, some mostly dried-up slender tarweed, cudweed aster, a few bush senecio, and a couple of different buckwheat. We saw only about ten different flower species in bloom and none in any significant quantity so this is not the trail if flowers are your main interest.   –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)



Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360






If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408