Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 12, 2019

Merced River and Yosemite Wildflowers 5/9/19

photos and report by Kathi Dowdakin

It’s Madia season along the Merced River (May 7 to 9)

The Merced is running fast and furious, as are the waterfalls in Yosemite NP.  We’ve been through this part of California when the canyon walls were dripping with Poppies.  Not many of those to be found this year, but there are thousands of Madias in bloom along Hwy 140, from Midpines to Yosemite.  When you get east of Briceburg, there is less competition from the annual grasses, and the wildflowers are more readily apparent.  White Globe Lilies, Chinese Houses, Lupines, Mariposa Lilies, Buttercups, Paintbrush, and Clarkias abound.  The Redbuds along the river bank are just about done, but the Spicebush is covered with flowers.  Cross the river at either Briceburg (trailhead area for the Merced River Trail, along the old railway bed), or at El Portal, and check out the butterfly parade.  Sara Orange-tips, Ringlets, Swallowtails, Checkerspots zoom by constantly.  Foresta Rd, across the river at El Portal, has been paved since we last visited making the FS campgrounds there far more attractive, without the blanketing dust.
Some of the flowers we saw, like the Mentzelia/Blazing Star, Pholistoma/Fiesta Flower, and the Papaver californicum/Fire Poppy, are not (or are poorly) documented as occurring thereabouts, on the Calflora Database website.  So those of you who are serious plant nerds or have the iNaturalist app on your smartphone – opportunity knocks!  Make a large loop to include Evergreen Road, off of Hwy 120, Mather Road, and Cherry Lake Road – another poorly documented area, with many treasures to discover.  Calochortus minimus is just one such.   Just get yourselves there early, like before 10 AM weekdays, to pass through the Yosemite entrance stations to avoid the lines.  Or, go on a day when rain is predicted, like it was on May 9, and it may be like old times at the Park, no lines, no crush, easy.  The echoing thunder is glorious, and you need a raincoat to visit any of the waterfalls anyway.

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  1. Are you saying Foresta Road from El Portal up to Foresta is reopened? And yes, Evergreen has been a favorite of mine for years

    Headed that way next week after first heading to Mountain Home area east of Springville, hope to catch dogwood bloom among giant Sequoia.



    Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 6:31 PM


    • from Kathi
      Foresta Road seems to be permanently closed, somewhere between Old El Portal and Big Oak Flat Road. We drove in from both ends to check it out, as my old maps show it as a through road. The fire damage through that area is extensive. We respected the signage.
      It’s confusing, since the road that crosses the Merced River at (new) El Portal from Hwy 140 is called Foresta Road. Just across the bridge there’s an intersection that indicates Spur Road (which goes to a Forest Service compound), Incline Road (which goes west along the river), and Foresta Road which travels east-ish to Old El Portal. Old El Portal is where the railroad line ended, and there’s an exhibit there with an engine, caboose, water tower and turntable. Beyond that seems to be housing. A wide but unmarked intersection a short distance from the railroad exhibit is El Portal Road, which heads south back to Hwy 140.
      The pictures I took marked “Foresta Road” more properly should be labeled “Incline Road”, which serves three small Forest Service campgrounds and some ranches, and is part of the old railroad bed that ran along the north-ish side of the Merced River. As far as I can tell, Incline Road can only be accessed from Foresta Road. Hwy 140 uses a stretch of Incline Road as a detour, west of the Savage Trading Post, but access to further travel on Incline Road is blocked at either end of the detour. FYI: the Hite Cove Trail at Savage Trading Post is still closed.
      Sorry for the lengthy response, but it took us awhile to figure it out, even driving on the roads ourselves.


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