Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 26, 2017

Tahoe/Carson Pass Wildflowers 7/26/17

Where to photograph in California – Yahoo Groups  (Calphoto) has a new report for the Tahoe/Carson Pass Area

just returned from a 6-day roadtrip checking out blooms around the Tahoe-Truckee area. Things are looking good around there, and in general, I’d say that the 7000-8000 ft elevation range is the sweet spot. Here are some specifics.

Meiss trail: Gorgeous with snowmelt, views, lupine, Monardella, sulfur buckwheat, mule’s ears, Calochortus, Castilleja, irises and more in the drylands, so very many things blooming in the meadows. The corn lilies on the way to Showers aren’t going off yet, but it will be stunning when they do.
Carson pass toward Winnemucca: Also lovely, with great views and some excellent patches of bloom, but earlier than Meiss and there’s still a fair amount of snow on the trail to navigate (not bad, but as the snow increased and flowers decreased I turned back, but do pay attention to the snow melt line, interesting things may be found.) The rangers estimate that the peak bloom around Carson pass will be in around 3 weeks. Also, do go to the Carson information station and ask for recommendations, they’re really nice and try to keep up with where the bloom is now.
Big Meadow to Round lake: Big meadow didn’t look like much upon entry, but there’s a lot going on as you walk through. There’s a second, smaller meadow up the trail, that’s pretty now with asters and yellow flowers (I’m still working on id’ing things), and will also be fantastic in a couple of weeks when the corn lilies bloom. Between there and Round lake is a pine forest that, personally, I found much less interesting, although there are some good rock formations and snow plant.
Ophir/Tahoe meadows: Still early there too. Some blooms (I saw my first elephant’s head there, and there are some nice patches of shooting star), and the middle meadow trail at Tahoe is still quite snowy. If you go to Ophir now, stick with the shortest trail near the road, it’s definitely where the most is happening. Further up Tahoe meadows are marsh marigolds along the periphery, and a fair amount of snow to navigate.
Mt Rose: I didn’t end up hiking it, since everyone I talked with in the parking lot said “There’s a lot of snow, starting soon on the trail.”
Lacey meadow: Lovely, many things blooming, so many dragonflies, butterflies, small fish in the creek and tiny frogs. The drive there is beautiful too. I had the place to myself.
Sagehen creek trail: Looks like it’s past prime, wasn’t worth the time. Much of it is under monotonous pine (no offense, pines, I really do like you) with mule’s ear understory, and most of the mule’s ears weren’t blooming (some were past, others looked like they weren’t going to bother.) The meadow itself had a sparse scattering of one small carrot-family bloom (that was also all over Lacey more densely.) The reservoir is quite pretty though.
Page meadows: A series of meadows that were in different stages, some still quite wet with fewer blooms, some stunning with color, including a few plants I hadn’t seen elsewhere. Definitely worth exploring if you’re in the area, and do take random side trails, they’re often worth it. Note that Google’s trail map isn’t correct from Silver Tip road. I ended up going round the long way on a fire road (which was pretty too) and didn’t spend the time to figure out if there’s a better way.
5 Lakes trail: Not particularly floriferous, but there were some Ceanothus, Monardella, and some buckwheats that I hadn’t seen elsewhere. The views are wonderful though, great rock formations, and taking a dip in one of the lakes feels excellent after the tough climb. Boy did I feel the elevation on these hikes! Note that you need to go off of the main trail to get access to the lakes, they’re mostly not obvious.
One more recommendation: Try not to go to the Tahoe area on weekends, unless you really like people and traffic and having trouble getting a camping spot. Weekdays are busy too, but weekends are nuts.


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