Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hike 2014.024 -- A Return Trip to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR

Hiked Saturday, April 12. I had previously visited the Poppy Reserve just two weeks previous. At the time, poppies were dense in spots, but most of the area was green and un-poppified. However, with favorable weather and possibly even some additional rain since then, the state park's website and other sources suggested the bloom was progressing nicely. So I decided to return to the Antelope Valley California Poppy State Reserve to see for myself. I also intended to combine this with a stop at Placerita Canyon on the way back.

This I did yesterday. I'll try to blog the Placerita Canyon hike within a few days. Also, I still have a number of earlier hikes that require blogging.

The short answer for how things are at the reserve is, "Very Good." It's still not an outstanding year, in the sense that it's not completely covered, as is shown on the cover of the state Poppy Reserve's informational flyer. But, especially on the western side of the reserve, it now seems like it's more "flowers" than "not flowers.

To start the day, I headed I stopped at the nearby purveyor of Vietnamese iced coffee and bahn mi, and bought my lunch and coffee. I had a large one yesterday, and still had the craving. This, despite the fact I knew drinking all that wouldn't necessarily be a good idea.

However, for this part of the day, it worked fine.

Having rad the earlier flower reports, I knew I was heading to the west side of the park. But even without the reports, I would likely have headed west, since I had headed east the time before.

The trail system at the reserve could broadly be described as consisting of a large western loop, a large eastern loop, and a "super" eastern loop, tacked on to the east of the east loop. Both the eastern and western loops also have a trail that cuts across each loop's middle.

The eastern and western loops are each about two miles around, while the tacked-on bit of the eastern loop would add about 2 miles to that. There's also a sort of "mini-loop" that goes around the visitor and picnic areas, so you've got plenty of distance options.
As is apparent in the pictures, there were several expansive areas that were almost entirely covered in either California Poppies or by other wildflowers. The Poppies were NOT the dominant flower in several sections of the trail, where goldfield (I think) and phacelia (I'm sure) dominate, instead. But there were still significant sections of orange where the Poppies were thick.

This is in contrast to the last visit, where the dominant color was green, with only occasional (though still very dense) patches of high poppy density. Of course, in those areas, the poppies were *really* dense, so I already considered the last trip worth the drive. But this time, it was far better.

I did not walk the eastern loops, so I can't say that things were as dense there as to the west. But, clearly, there will be significant blooms going on here for at least another few weeks. Peak bloom may already be at hand, however. No more rain is likely this spring, and the temperatures will be turning high next week.

So, if you're thinking of heading to the Poppy Reserve this year, now is the time. That is all. :D

P.S. Forgot to mention that, after my hike, I sat down in the picnic area and ate my bahn mi and drank my coffee. They were both delicious. Perhaps because it was still only about 11am, I had my choice of benches, despite the crowds. The parking lot pretty much reached capacity by about 11:15am yesterday, by the way. I'd suggest arriving early if it's a weekend during the bloom, or at least early-ish. Currently, the park opens at "sunrise," and visitor center opens at 9am on weekends, 10am on weekdays. Parking is $10. I think the fee and visitor center days and hours vary by season.


  1. I was there on Friday (April 11th). It wasn't the best it could be but it was better than it has been in years.

  2. The volunteers in the visitor center said things were improving by the day. Glad you made it out there. Hope you made it to the western loop, which is reportedly thicker with flowers than the eastern side. At least it was as of Saturday. Could change over the next few days, of course.