Posted by: Sandy Steinman | April 25, 2010

Hell’s Half Acre and South Yuba River

Updated on  May 3, 2010 with new plant lists

On April 24, 2010 I went Hell’s Half Acre and the Buttermilk trail in South Yuba River State Park.  Hell’s Half Acre is west of the Grass Valley at the intersection of Rough and Ready and Ridge Roads.  It has nice displays consisting of a yellow composite (that is not Goldfields), Lupine and Johnny Tuck.  Also in bloom in the area were Blue Dicks, Woodland Star and Manzanita.

South Yuba River State Park is northwest of Grass Valley.  Its wildflower season is typically March to May.  The top wildflower trail is Buttermilk Bend Trail. It is relatively level and goes along the river canyon.   It is very flowery and has many species in bloom.  There are signs along the way that name most of the species now in bloom.  It is very appealing to the wildflower lover and close-up photographer.  It does not have big displays. There are guided walks led by docents on the Buttermilk trail on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 AM through May 16.  It is very popular and you may want to go on a weekday to avoid the crowds.

Flowers in bloom along the Buttermilk trail included Buttercups, Catchfly, Fiddlenecks, Tufted Poppy, Foothill Lomatium, Wind Carnation, Hill Lotus, Varied-leaf Phacelia, Caterpillar Phacelia, Canyon Dudleya, Globe Lily, Canyon Nemophila, Blue Dicks, Pallid Owl’s Clover, Silver Puffs, Bush Lupine, Twining Snake Lily, Tomcat Clover, Narrow-leafed Lupine, Pretty Face, Miniature Lupine, Bowl Tubed Iris, Slender Cottonweed, Purple Larkspur, Foothill Penstemon, Silver leaf Lupine, Bush Monkey Flower, Purple Sanicle, Purple Milkweed, Purple Chinese Houses, Common Madia, Wild Endive.  (I used the common names that were on the signs along the trail)  There were also many Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies and a number of other smaller butterflies.

The photos of the displays in the slideshow are of Hell’s Half Acre; the close-ups and river canyon are along Buttermilk trail.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Toni Fauver’s book Wild Flower Walks and Roads of the Sierra Gold Country is very informative about both these areas.

South Yuba River State Park Site:

South Yuba River Park Association:

Article on Wildflowers of South Yuba River State Park:

Information on Weekend Guided Wildflower Walks:

Bridgeport Plant list (by the Redbud CNPS Chapter), which includes the Buttermilk Bend Trail:

Plant List for Hell’s Half Acre (also by Redbud CNPS), with a brief article about the area and attempts to preserve it:

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  1. […] credit: natural history wanderings […]


  2. Submitted on 2011/04/16 at 8:04 AM | by John W.
    Wow, you’re really covering some ground, Sandy. Great job. I’ve never been to this area. That shot of the river is gorgeous!


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