Posted by: Sandy Steinman | April 27, 2014

Bear Valley Wildflowers Are Looking Good 4/26/14

submitted by Celia Zevatsky
I haven’t reported on a good wildflower display in a few years, but must after yesterday — Wow!

We made a quick visit to Colusa County and toured the southern end of Bear Valley and its approaches; then up to Wayne’s Knoll on the southern end of Walker Ridge (now into its second season after a burn), but you can tell Bear Valley is the stunner even as it is approaching full bloom. I haven’t seen it this good in years!!!

The intersection of Hwys 16, 20, and Bear Valley Rd has more and broader sheets of poppies, cream cups and goldfields than I’ve ever seen. Just a few hundred yards north on Bear Valley Rd some of the corrals are near peak with tidy tips, and on the serpentine slopes above the corrals the large cascades of poppies, goldfields, lupines and more tidy tips look like they are gaining in intensity of bloom.

As you continue north the lupines get more and more showy until there are masses and tiers of it on both sides of the road, marching uphill and downhill like I’ve never seen before. How about a giant wedding cake of lupines? They may be at their freshest and best now and a couple of days longer. As you almost reach Bear Valley proper there are extensive sheets of goldfields on both sides amongst the oak grassland — I haven’t seen that for several years now, probably because of lack of good spring rains. The rare onion, Allium fimbriatum var purdyi, has lots of inflorescences in fat bud, but may not open for another week or so to form the large sheets of white to pale pink flowers up the steep slopes.

Bear Valley itself is blooming but may not reach its peak for a few more days or a week on the southern ranch, but there are still cream cups, goldfields, miniature lupine showing up in large sheets that I think will increase in breadth and intensity as the days continue. From the small rise before crossing Bear Creek you can already see the quilting of colors spread out before you across the Valley, including a very large splotch of orange Calif poppy on the far lower foothills of Walker Ridge all the way across on the west side of the valley.

However, if you plan to visit, check the weather reports: on Tuesday the temperature will begin to increase into the upper 80’s and even lower 90’s in the central valley, a heat wave for about 3 days, so things may accelerate and the plants decide to shift into high gear, peaking earlier than I’m predicting above.

For directions to Bear Valley/Walker Ridge and a short slide show from the past, go to Natural History Wanderings:

I also like to approach/return via the more scenic Hwy 16 from I-505 — exit the freeway (I-505) at the sign to Esparta, Capay Valley, etc. This route takes you thru fabulous Cache Creek Canyon.


  1. […] Bear Valley Wildflowers Are Looking Good 4/26/14 ( […]


  2. Sandy: Just returned from a two-day trip through Bear Valley. Wildflowers were, indeed, nice but in my view not as numerous as in previous years. See attached. Walker Ridge was very dry and not many flowers. The road along Walker Ridge was OK, but pretty rough in places.

    Tom Winter


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