Posted by: Sandy Steinman | April 12, 2018

Sierra Foothills Wildflowers 4/9/18

report and photos submitted by Pierre Stephens

Merced River Trail, Hite Cove Trail,  Table Mountain above New Melones, and Red Hills Road

Hiked the Merced River Trail downstream of Briceburg and then 2 miles up the North Fork (10mi return) on Monday (2 photos). Nice variety of flowers, with larger displays of poppies, Lupine sp, goldfields, Collinsia, Triteleia laxa, and Triteleia ixoides. Nice hillsides in bloom the first 1/2 mile up North Fork in the burn area, with many Calochortus Alba and twining Brodiaea just beginning to bloom beyond that. Continued another mile past a large cascade on the North Fork but trail becomes very overgrown with brush. Buckbrush (Ceanothus cuneatus) in heavy bloom along Merced River railroad grade, and many newts in the early morning. Access road from Briceburg to Railroad Flat trailhead was cleared and open.

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Also hiked a few miles up the Hite Cove trail. Nice display and mix of species in bloom. As with elsewhere in the canyon, individual blooms are smaller than usual, so not as showy yet as some years, but lots of blooms. While some poppies were just starting to form seedpods, the ground was saturated, so I’d expect the bloom to continue and quite possibly increase for at least several weeks.

The Merced River was flowing very strongly after last week’s storms, and the redbud was in peak bloom. Brush including poison oak that survived the fires and recent dry years was bursting into growth.

In the foothills, I went on short hikes on 4/8/18 at Table Mountain above New Melones (some flowers, but much less than at Oroville’s Table Mountain) and Red Hills near Chinese Camp (nice variety, with showy displays on private land along Red Hills Road and lots of small fish (Red Hills Roach?) in the creek along Serpentine Loop Rd North – 2 photos).

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