The trip to Bear Valley yesterday (3/12/11) was with the hope of seeing the Adobe Lily (Fritillaria pluriflora). Taking Highway 20 from Interstate 5, we saw some fruit trees with a lot of bloom although most had little or none. There were also Redbuds (on the early side), Fiddlenecks, Ceaonthus, Toyon showing there red berries, a white Phacelia, a Lupine and Blue Dicks.
Bear Valley is protected through the efforts of the American Land Conservancy. Rangeland Trust owns the 12,893-acre ranch. In 2006 the American Land Conservancy acquired an easement on the nearby Payne Ranch, which expanded the protected areas. Both areas are still privately owned but are managed to protect natural ecological resources. The road is a public dirt road that is passable by ordinary cars when dry. You are welcome to view flowers from the road, but please respect the private farm lands and fences. To get to Bear Valley take the Williams exit from I-5 and drive 18 miles west on Highway 20, turn right and go north on Bear Valley Road for 14 miles.
Although it is early for most flowers at Bear Valley, you have to come early in the season if you want to see the Adobe Lily. It typically blooms mid to late March in the valley on the left side of the road before the first curve. Luck was on our side as they have started to bloom. However it was not a good photo opportunity as no plants were right by the fence, they mixed in with lots of grass, it was windy and sunny. If you want to photograph them bring your longest telephoto; if you want a close look bring binoculars.
Also in bloom at Bear Valley and the road in were Tidytips, Manzanitas, Paintbrush, Buttercups, a yellow Lomatium, Creamcups, Gilia, Goldfields, Owl’s Clover, Fiddleneck, Johnny Tuck, Buttercup, and Red Maids. If you want to see Adobe Lilies go now, if you want lots of wildflowers and large displays wait until April.
On the way home we took Highway 16 to I-505. On 16 between Highway 20 and the town of Rumsey there were scenic hills with Gray Pines, Oaks, Toyons in fruit and Redbuds starting to bloom.
Bear Valley Plant list from Sacramento CNPS www.sacvalleycnps.org/conservation/plantlists/BearValleyNosal.pdf
Last year’s Bear Valley report from my visit on April 24,2010