Showers could bring even more color

03/29/2013 11:37 PM

04/04/2013 12:16 AM

There's really no such thing as a bad year for wildflowers.

Some are more glorious than others.

This hasn't been a great year for spring color displays. But there's still time, according to Sierra National Forest botanist Joanna Clines.

"It really could go either way," Clines said from her office in North Fork. "If we get some good rain this month, it could be beautiful. But it was looking pretty dry for a while." Extended dry periods, such as the ones the region experienced this winter, aren't ideal for wildflowers, which thrive when regularly spaced rains keep the ground moist. Warm weather helps, too.

There are some places that get regular blooms regardless of the conditions. Except you might see a field of orange California poppies instead of an entire hillside.

"It's really not bursting out there yet," Clines said. "But it's about to open. I'd expect the next few weekends will begin to show some nice color." One of the best spots to sample nature's color palette is the Hite Cove Trail in the Sierra National Forest. More than 50 wildflower varieties grow along the South Fork of the Merced River, but the golden poppies stand out. From Savage's Trading Post, 22 miles east of Mariposa on Highway 140, it's a 4.2-mile hike to Hite Cove, an abandoned mining settlement. The best blooms are typically found along the first 2 miles.

"It's early, but the poppies are looking pretty good," Clines said.

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