Western Wildflower Walks
Laurie Kobliska, Syndicated Columnist
DESK - The American Nature lover looks forward to this time of year
in California. Cars are pulling off the freeways. Drivers step out,
and stare unblinkingly at the billions of flowers and blooming shrubs
along the Pacific Coast and the Sierra uplands.
The California Poppy is breaking into a chorus of red and orange
praise to the warming sun. Wild Mustard, Indian Pink, Thistle
Sage, Pale Sweet Pea, Verbena, Meadow Lotus abound and the Monkshood
are enough to startle any California highway traveler.
No special training is necessary to appreciate the beauty of
this nation's natural wildflower heritage. If you are interested
in getting closer to Nature this week, try guided wildflower
walks, nature talks, or other outdoot activities that are schedule
during the next few weeks. Some of these are listed below.
Wildflower slide show: For wildflower enthusiasts who'd
like to preview the view before taking off in search of spring
color, the California Native Plant Society on Wednesday will
present a dual-projector slide show depicting the advance of
spring from California's low desert northward and upward through
the valleys and foothills to the subalpine high country of the
Sierra. The free presentation by plant enthusiasts Wilma and
Bill Folette, who have spent years photographing wildflower
displays throughout the West, starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Garden
and Arts Center of McKinley Park, 3330 McKinley Boulevard in
Wildflower Express: The Western Railroad Museum at Rio
Vista Junction, 12 miles southeast of Fairfield on Highway 12
in Solano County, is conducting Wildflower Express train rides
through the Jepson Prairie on weekends through May 11. Trains
pulling historic equipment depart at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and
Sundays, with additional departures scheduled at 3:45 p.m. on
April 5, 12, 19 and 26. Tickets for adults range from $12 to
$35, depending on which of three classes of service is selected.
Children ages 4-12 ride for $8 in coach class. Admission to
the museum is included. For reservations, call (800) 900-7245.
Learning Exchange: The Learning Exchange is sponsoring
several wildflower field trips this month. The first, exploring
the Buttermilk Bend Trail along the Yuba River, takes off at
10 a.m. Saturday, with a pre trip classroom session scheduled
for Tuesday evening. A June 7 Tahoe Basin trip will be preceded
by a June 3 class. Both trips will be led by naturalist Karen
A third trip, this one conducted by Bob Tribe, visits the
Tomales Point area of Point Reyes National Seashore on April
19, with a pre trip class scheduled for April 17.
The fee for any of the trips is $29; call 929-9200 to register.
Yosemite National Park: Several field seminars focused
on wildflowers have been scheduled by the Yosemite Association,
a nonprofit educational group. They include three days of strenuous
hiking in the lower mountains (April 18-20), "botany basics"
(May 30-June 1 and July 18-20); Wawona wildflowers, waterfalls
and giant sequoias (May 30-June 1); mountain wildflowers for
the relaxed botanist (July 14-18); and a pair of photo workshops
(May 9-11 and July 25-27). Course fees averaging $50 a day include
room reservations or free shared camping space, plus free entry
into the park. For a catalog, call (209) 379-2321 or write Yosemite
Field Seminars, P.O. Box 230-S, El Portal, CA 95318.
Julie Stauffer Carville: The author of "Lingering in
Tahoe's Wild Gardens," Carville leads spring and summer wildflower
hikes in the Sierra. Next up: Codfish Falls near Colfax, April
20; Spenceville Wildlife Preserve, April 26; and Sagehen Creek
at North lake Tahoe, June 7. There is a $35 fee for each outing.
For information: 274-3827.
California Native Plant Society: Dedicated to the study
and preservation of California's native plants, the CNPS can
provide information and brochures at its office, at 1722 J Street,
Suite 17, Sacramento 95814; phone 447-2677.
Most CNPS field trips are limited to members only, but an
April 19 outing to Jepson Prairie, led by docents, is open to
the public. To get to the Jepson Prairie Preserve, approximately
12 miles south of Dixon on Cook Road, take Highway 113 south
from Dixon until it turns east at an overhead warning light.
Continue straight ahead on Cook Road (gravel) over the railroad
tracks to the parking lot.
For information on other CNPS wildflower outings, contact:
Eva Butler, Sacramento Chapter, 443-6282; Dawn Aulenbrock, Tahoe
Chapter, (310) 327-9915; Chet Blackburn, Redbud Chapter, 885-0201;
Sue Britting, El Dorado County Chapter, 626-8366; or Jennie
Haas, Sierra Foothills Chapter (209) 586-5704.
California Poppy Festival: If your travel plans take
you south next weekend, check out the 6th Annual California
Poppy Festival in the Antelope Valley town of Lancaster, not
far from the California State Poppy Reserve, where more than
1,700 acres of the golden flowers are in bloom. For information:
Southern California Wildflower Hotlines: For information
on wildflower sites in Southern California, the Theodore Payne
Foundation maintains a hotline at (818) 768-3533. A hotline
for Northern California may be established soon.
©Copyright 2002 by Laurie Kobliska.
All rights reserved.