Wildflowers of Torrey Pines, Guy Fleming Trail

Super Bloom, Spring 2017

The drought that has plagued the Southwest United States, Southern California included, has been declared over… for the most part. We saw hardly any rain over the last five years and this winter we made up for the deficit. Finally! And when the rains come, so do the wildflowers.


The Torrey Pines State Reserve is a special place, and if you are visiting the San Diego area, try to stop by here. For spectacular scenery, the Guy Fleming Trail is one of my favorite places to walk, run, bring tourist friends, and take photos.


This year, a lot of photos. Never have I taken more pictures of any natural area. Ever. And I like taking pictures along hikes, so that is saying something.


From the dozen or so walks I have taken recently, I’ve saved about a hundred photos, culled down from four hundred, at least. The scenery changes every ten paces or so, quite literally! During San Diego’s May Gray and June Gloom, the fog sneaks and slips through the pines and up over the slopes that rise from the beach below. But- in a matter of minutes, the entire marine layer can clear up leaving tourist and locals blinking in the bright sunlight and marveling at the weathered bluffs, crumbling cliffs, and lovely, lovely flowers.

Just look at these side-by-side photos of similar views, but different times or weather:


and more…



Cold, early morning poppies vs. bright, shiny (and badly photographed) poppies:


I love these two:


Here’s a bit of the wildlife. Surfers count, they are totally legit wildlife…



Get a load of the geometry and patterns seen out on the beach trails:





And to conclude, a few of my favorite pics of just the flowers:

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Milk Maids
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The Blue Larkspur- spotted in the eponymous Larkspur Canyon.





All right. I have to quit. I could upload another 50 photos that are every bit as lovely as these, but I have to calm the heck down.

Happy hiking, all!

Anza Borrego Desert State Park- Wildflower “Super Bloom” March 2017

Brown-eyed Primrose

California’s above average, drought-busting winter rains are the proverbial blessing and a curse- floods, rock falls and mudslides that probably won’t be seen for another ten to twenty years, but the reservoirs are near to full, the snowpack in the Sierras is reassuringly deep and… oh, the WILDFLOWERS!



Blue-eyed Scorpion Weed (AKA Wild Heliotrope?)

If you have considered driving out to the desert to see The Superbloom, GO. NOW. I’m going to conclude this post with a barrage of photos of the desert wildflowers.


Here is our Anza Borrego Desert State Park in full bloom on March 13, 2017:

Above: top left- Lupine (Arizona Lupine?); top right- Beavertail Cactus; bottom- Desert Sunflower


Some of the wildflowers at one of the highway park entrance signs, pictured below, include Desert Pincushion, Desert Dandelion, and Blue-eyed Scorpion Weed, and in the pic on the left, you can also see an Ocotillo “skeleton.”

It’s simply lovely. I mean LOOK HOW GREEN THE DESERT HILLS ARE! Below left, an Ocotillo’s tips are ready to fire up it’s red blooms. Below right a Cholla cactus is usually the only green thing you would see in this picture.. again, look at those GREEEN HILLS!

Henderson Canyon Road is stunning this year:

A ridiculously beautiful expanse of yellow Desert Sunflowers


Coyote Canyon has water! And amazing flowers!


More flowers, Ocotillo, and Agave along the Coyote Canyon drive (off-road, not for casual tourists in sedans):



Wednesday’s Wildflowers- Torrey Pines State Reserve

Along the coastal chaparral of the Guy Fleming Trail wildflowers are bursting forth thanks to the downpours we’ve seen this rainy season. If you can’t drive out to the desert region this spring, get over to Torrey Pines State Reserve and enjoy the beauty before the heat returns and withers away these blooms.

Wooly Paintbrush is one of the chaparral perennials.
The San Diego Sea Dahlia, of the sunflower family, has contrasting sturdy stems and delicate leaves.
Here is one of my favorite wildflowers to spot- Miner’s Lettuce, of the purslane family. An early spring edible like the more common purslane… but don’t take my word for it, I’m no botanist.
One of the many mustards, Milkmaids are popping up all over the Torrey Pines trails.

Thanks to my handy-dandy spiral bound book-

Native Plants Torrey Pines State Reserve & nearby San Diego County Locations

by Margaret L. Fillius, 2nd Edition

This book is available for purchase at the visitor center atop the preserve, and if you’re lucky, the author will be on site leading a nature walk.

Whine Free Wildflower Photography!

Very grumpy children. She is totally faking that smile and was as miserable as he was that day.
Very grumpy children, 2011. She is totally faking that smile and was as miserable as he was to go hiking that day.

Today The Husband and I did something we have never done. We went on a long drive to go hiking in the Anza Borrego State Park lands in the desert… without the teenagers. They asked to stay home, finish homework, and generally relax. We had a grand time eating pie, seeing wildflowers, stopping on a whim for tacos, all without anyone complaining about being too hot, too cold, bored, hungry or ready to go home.

The Amma (my mom) after being tricked into hiking up the Borrego Palm Canyon trail
The Amma (my mom) after hiking  Borrego Palm Canyon trail

All four of us have had a ball tromping through state parks, but rarely are all four people happy at one time. You want to see that old phrase “madder than a wet hen” in action? Add my mom to the mix. I have tricked her into hiking on short trails and have been surprised she was speaking to me by the end.

*Click on any of the photos for larger versions, the flowers are really pretty*

Julian Pie for a second breakfast!
Julian Pie for a second breakfast!
More pie pics. Because, pie. That’s why.

For this day trip, we stopped in Santa Ysabel for apple pie à la mode at the Julian Pie Company. We carpool school trips to this area and I always try to bring my car load of middle schoolers to this shop for a snack. If you have the chance to visit, don’t miss it! Seriously, pie is my favorite dessert, and I prefer my own pie usually. This is the only pie I buy. I think they only hire the nicest people. Must be part of their hiring tactics.

I call this photo "Cholla Blooms, One Week Too Early"
I call this photo “Cholla Blooms, One Week Too Early”
Wildflowers of Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Wildflowers of Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Next on the agenda- hunt down some wildflowers. We’ve had enough rain to ensure a good year for desert flowers in all their beauty. Looks like it’s Yellow Flower Season to me. And can you see the citrus groves in the distance in the photo on the right? The groves were in full bloom and words cannot begin to describe their perfume that filled the air.

What's left of lunch from El Borrego.
What’s left of lunch from El Borrego.

We finished the day with a snack from El Borrego. This little taco shop had a great menu, but we went for the basics- tacos and a carnitas burrito. The Husband declared that he will be stopping at El Borrego every future trip to the desert. You’ll have to use your imagination to decide if the lunches looked as good as they tasted… they did, and I for got to snap a pic. I love a good, hard fried shredded beef taco, and they know how to make them here.

While I missed my kids, I’m glad they had a quiet day at home instead of being dragged out to the desert on a 92 degree day (but it’s a DRY heat!). If you are looking for a nice day trip, I love the Anza Borrego desert this time of year. Don’t forget the State Park Visitor’s Center, the day hikes, buy a bag of oranges and enjoy the fresh air if you come out.

More flowers, that's why we came...
More flowers, that’s why we came…
Ocotillo in bloom, Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Ocotillo in bloom, Anza Borrego Desert