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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 1, 2010

Carson Pass Detailed Wildflower Bloom Report

Carson Pass did not disappoint.   Flowers are excellent and at peak. We saw many species in bloom and large displays including hillsides of flowers.   If you are driving from the Bay Area or Sacramento,  I would recommend taking the Mormon-Emigrant Road from Highway 50 near Pollock Pines to Highway 88.  It is scenic and has nice flower displays the last few miles.

See the previous post (below)  for where I went on this trip.  Both hikes were about four to five miles round trip and were relatively easy if you are OK with high elevation.  The only part that was a little difficult was hiking above Lake Winnemuca as you have a stream crossing (not a hard one), a short steep climb and a bit of scrambling. (If this intimidates you, skip this part; if not, do it as there are some great flowers are up there).  Flowers line both paths with the open meadows and hillsides having the biggest show.  The trails were often pleasantly fragrant from Lupine and Mt. Pennyroyal.  Also there is not Poison Oak to worry about at this elevation (which is personally appreciated as am still recovering from Poison Oak of three weeks ago while photographing at Pt. Reyes) If you like mountain wildflowers now is the time to go.   Don’t wait too long as the season is short.

The parking areas now have fees, but are free if you have a Golden Age Pass.  For camping try the Woods Lake National Forest Campground; for accommodations, you might try Kirkwood, which is where we stayed.  I also recommend the Kirkwood Inn for a good place to eat.

Here are some photos and a detailed plant list from my last two days at Carson Pass.

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For more information on visiting Carson Pass see my posting:  The Best Wildflower Spot in the Sierra?

The most detailed plant list  for Carson Pass available on-line is from the Sacramaento CNPS and is a pdf that I could not set up a link to but you can copy and paste it in your browser: www.sacvalleycnps.org/conservation/plantlists/CarsonPass.PDF

To see detailed plants lists of what I was able to identify the last two days of July: click on read more:

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Mormon Emigrant Road (7-30-10)

Arrowhead Groundsel

a purple Aster

Lupine

Paintbrush

White-Flowered Bog Orchid

Seep Monkeyflower

Mt. Pennyroyal

Naked Buckwheat

Goldenrod

Mules Ears

Red Columbines

Cow Parsnip

Stickweed

Gayophytum

Mallow

Timberline Phacelia

St. John’s Wort

Nude Buckwheat

Bridge’s Gilia

Carson Pass to Frog and Winnemuca Lakes (7-30-10)

Jacob’s Ladder

Mt. Pride Penstemon

Mt. Pennyroyal

Sulfur-flowered Buckwheat

Nude Buckwheat

Creambush

False Solomon’s Seal

Gayophytum

Spurred Lupine

Dwarf Lupine

Marsh Lupine

Single-stemmed Groundsel

Arrowleaf Groundsel

Western Mt. Aster

Brewer’s Golden-aster

Alpine Aster

Wavy-leafed Paintbrush

Streamside Paintbrush

Alpine Paintbrush

Mules Ear

Corn Lily

Yampah

Wooly Sunflower

Timberline Phacelia

Seep Monkeyflower

tiny pink monkey flower                        (Mimulus pygameus?)

a small yellow Monkeyflower             (Mimulus primuloides?)

Whorled Penstemon

Pussytoes

Spreading Phlox

Dwarf Larkspur

Sierra Onion

Nodding Microseris

Sandwort

Wooly Sunflower

Green-flowered Knotweed

Mariposa Lily                                                (Calochortus Leichlinii)

Wallflower

Mt. Avens

Scarlet Gilia

Pussy Paws

Pine-forest Lousewort

Pretty Face or Golden Stars

Slender Cinquefoil

Sticky Cinquefoil

Meadow Rue

Stickweed or Mt. Forget-me-not

Snowberry

Monument Plant, Deer Tongue or Green Gentian

an Erigeron

Flax

Sweet Cicely

a tiny Blue-eyed Mary

Mt. Valerian

Blue Flag Iris

a Willow

Douglas’s Catchfly or Campion

Little Elephant Heads

Elephant Heads

Antelope Bush

Star-fruited Stonecrop

Yarrow

Horsemint

Bistort

Buttercup

A yellow Lomatium

Service-berry

Angelica

Birds: Clark’s Nutcracker, Mt. Chickadee, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Sooty Grouse

Pika – heard only

Woods Lake to Winnemucca Lake (7-31-10)

Western Aster

Brewer’s Golden-Aster

Mt. Pride Penstemon

an erigeron

Pretty Face

Mountain Spirea

Single-stemmed Groundsel

Arrowleaf Groundsel

Pussytoes

Sweet Cicely

Spurred Lupine

Dwarf Lupine

Marsh Lupine

Nude Buckwheat

Mt. Pennyroyal

Sandwort

Sierra Onion

Creambush

Alpine Paintbrush

Wavy-leafed Paintbrush

Cream Bush

Sulfur-flowered Buckwheat

Nude Buckwheat

Wooly Sunflower

Slender Cinquefoil

Sticky Cinquefoil

Green-flowered Knotweed

Pine-forest Lousewort

Dwarf Larkspur

Spreading Phlox

Elephants Head

Red Columbine

A yellow Columbine ( that is probably a hybrid although no Alpine Columbines were seen)

Jacob’s Ladder

Treeline Phacelia

Meadow Rue

Bistort

Corn Lily

Monument Plant, Deer Tongue or Green Gentian

Whorled Penstemon

Red Heather

Seep Monkeyflower

Primrose Monkeyflower

Snowberry

Mt. Bluebells

Wallflower

Alpine Shooting Star

Mt. Valerian

a willow

a tall Larkspur (in bud)

Flax

Stickweed or Mt. Forget-me-not

Labrador Tea

Red Heather

Birds:   Mt. Chickadee, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Williamson’s Sapsucker

several Pikas – seen and heard

Above Winnemuca Lake (7-31-10)

(Does not include plants already seen lower down)

Alpine Buttercup

Marsh Marigold

White Heather

Rosy Sedum

Alaska Whitlow Grass

Gordon’s Ivesia

Alpine Speedwell

Sierra Primrose ( the prize of the climb; quite plentiful too.)

I used a number of wildflower books for ID.  For plant names I used an old plant list from the Carson Pass Visitor Center and Plants of the Tahoe Basin by Michael Graf.  All errors are very likely  mine.

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Responses

  1. Great pictures! I was hiking in that area in July thisyear myself, it was gorgeous. Here is a link to some of the pictures that I took in the area: http://wildflowers.russellramblings.com/2010/10/carson-pass-wildflower-hike/

  2. Has anyone been hiking in the Carson Pass area this year? Is it still snowed in?

    • I am sure it is. I just returned from Yuba pass which is 6700 feet and there is snow starting at 6000 feet. Carson Pass is almost 9000 feet and there are reports throughout the Sierra that there is still plenty of snow.

  3. The best bloom time for Carson Pass is usually in mid to late July. There is a information building there during the summer, staffed by volunteers, and you can call them to get updates on when to go. I went there in late July last year – see my article at http://wildflowers.russellramblings.com/2010/10/carson-pass-wildflower-hike/ for details on the phone number to call. There are several good wildflower hikes in the area, and some (like Meiss Lake: http://wildflowers.russellramblings.com/2010/08/meiss-lake-wildflower-hike/ ) are at their peak a week or two earlier than Carson Pass. This area is one of my all-time favorite hikes, the bounty of flowers is INCREDIBLE.

  4. Thanks for information Charlie. I think we can expect this year to be late July at earliest. The best information is from the visitor center that is mentioned in Charlie’s article.
    “The El Dorado National Forest Interpretive Association (ENFIA)..they are a wonderful source for information on the area. You can call them at (209) 258-8606 to get a reading on when the flowers will be at their peak.”

  5. Thanks for the information and the link.


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