Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 21, 2018

Carson Pass Wildflowers 7/18/18

submitted by Kathi Dowdakin

We spent a couple of days around the Carson Pass area, on July 17 and 18.  While it is definitely drier than recent years, there are still many flowers to be found at every seep and meadow.  Drier means fewer mosquitoes, which is always a plus.
   Along the roadway into Woods Lake there’s a large Willow-covered meadow, with 2 ft. high Paintbrush everywhere.  If you wander out into the meadow, there’s a 6 ft. tall Delphinium, in the darkest of purples.  The Monkshood, however, is the lightest blue I’ve ever seen.  There are tall stalks of the Sierra Lily, most of the flowers are still quite fresh, and some stalks still have unopened buds.
   Further in toward the picnic grounds, the Lewis’s pink monkeyflower is fat, and the Spiraea is flamboyant.  Woods Lake is quite full, and the waterfall flowing into it is still running.  A gorgeous spot for a shady picnic or a splash in the water, with traces of last winter’s snow high above you.
 The trail from the Carson Pass Information Station to Lake Winnemucca is about 2.5 miles long, with 600 ft. of elevation gain.  The trail is quite popular, especially this time of year when the large seep 2 miles in is in rampant bloom.  Along the way, the trail passes through a Lodgepole Pine forest, currently with a daisy understory.  An Erigeron of some sort, I think.  The Corn Lilies are still very fresh here, and the Monument Plants/Frasera are just starting to open their unusual flowers.  Butterflies of many varieties can be seen, and huge Bumblebees pull some of the smaller flowers to the ground in their efforts to find nectar.
   Our flower list for the hike stands at 74, not including any of the trees, sedges, and grasses (which are throwing copious amounts of pollen around on a warm afternoon).  The Phlox is the only plant that is completely past peak.  The Blue Flag Iris by Frog Lake (one mile in) is done, but there are more Iris in the large seep.  The same is true of the Lupines.  The many members of the Carrot Family make for some great photo compositions.
   A couple of new-to-us plants:  Artemisia norvegica with a strange flower shape; and a green Bog Orchid, Platanthera sparsiflora. It’s always a treat to discover something new.   One of our favorites to find is the Elephant’s Head, and there are two species of them out there to see.  We love showing these to people who have never seen them before, and can’t believe there’s a flower that looks so much like an elephant!  Big smiles, laughter – this is definitely a terrific hike.  Go soon to catch the show.  Midweek is not as crowded as the weekends can be.
Photos by Kathi Dowdakin

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  1. What amount of smoke is in the air?


    • I would suggest call the Carson Pass Visitor Center to get the most current information (209) 258-8606.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: