Camas lilies in a meadow in Northern California

Wildflowers in Northern California

by Vanessa Vasquez

Wildflowers in Northern California

Colorful shows of wildflowers can be seen along roads, lakeshores, craggy canyons, and creekside trails during spring and summer in Plumas County. Plumas County hosts a tremendous diversity of wildflowers due to the range in elevation and varied landscapes and habitat types. 

From carnivorous plants to memorable mountain peonies, Plumas County probably has a flower you haven’t met yet. Escape the crowds to Plumas County for some of the best mountain wildflowers Northern California has to offer.

Wildflower Walks and Scenic Drives

There are many ways to see wildflowers in Plumas County. Enjoy a scenic drive in the Feather River Canyon or a leisurely stroll on a community path; take a long hike high in the mountains or a botanical bike ride along back country roads. Wildflowers are fun to photograph and share–just be careful not to trample the flowers–they are food for the bees, butterflies, and birds.

Northwest Plumas

With snow and spring fed high elevation meadows and babbling creeks, look for summer wildflowers in and around Lassen Volcanic National Park long after other places in California are done blooming. The west shore of Lake Almanor along the Lake Almanor Trail is also a great place to look for woodland flowers like mule ears, scarlet fritillary, penstemons, and Washington lilies.

Trails around Mountain Meadows Reservoir near Westwood are also bordered with numerous colorful species. Get off the beaten path and explore the sweeping meadows and Big Springs and Yellow Creek of Tásmam Koyóm.

South Central Plumas

The Feather River Canyon is an official Scenic Byway for a reason–waterfalls, springs, and seeps loaded with wildflowers from early April through mid June, makes for a fantastic spring drive. Be on the lookout for monkey flowers, wallflowers, lots of lupines, and showy dogwoods. The rare and beautiful Cantelow’s Lewisia can easily be seen on the lower rock cliffs next to Caribou Road only 0.1 miles north of Highway 70.

If wildflower walks are more your thing, be sure to check out the trails around Bucks Lake a little later in the season. Near Quincy, the Butterfly Valley Botanical Area is a must visit for native plant lovers and is home to carnivorous pitcher plants (also called cobra lilies), sundews and many members in the lily family. The local endemic favorite “Quincy lupine” is present in this region too, flowering in May and June.

Southeast Plumas

The trail along Jamison creek in Plumas-Eureka State Park are great for a leisurely plant walk, or take a hike up the hill to Grassy Lake and into the Lakes Basin Recreation Area for subalpine species like asters and mountain pride (hummingbird favorite). Further east, Sierra Valley’s landscape is a blend of high sierra plants and high desert blooms. Favorites in Sierra Valley include camas lilies, mountain peonies, larkspurs, sand lilies, and sweet- smelling bitterbrush.

North Central Plumas

The country roads of Indian Valley cut through big, open grasslands with seasonal wetlands and spring flowers–all with towering Grizzly Ridge as a spectacular backdrop. Head through Taylorsville to Genesee Valley and beyond and be prepared to see unusually abundant milkweed (an important butterfly flower), spreading phlox, arrowleaf balsam, indian paintbrush, and coyote mint (another pollinator favorite) along the roadways.

Know Before You Go

  • Safety first! Always check weather and road conditions before an outing.
  • Leave no trace–take all trash with you, do not trample vegetation, and stay on designated roads and trails
  • Take photos, not plants. Do not pick the flowers.
  • Leave dogs at home or on leash in the spring (bird nesting season), especially when visiting meadows and wetlands.

When to Watch for Wildflowers

Elevation, exposure, and weather conditions offer clues for the timing of wildflower season. And because of the varied terrain in Plumas County, our wildflower season is long! At lower elevations on sunny slopes and in river canyons wildflowers typically start in early April. In mountain valleys and forests around towns look for blooms beginning in late April and early May.  For higher elevation destinations, June, July, and even August are peak times for mountain flowers.

Resources

Learn more about wildflowers in Plumas County

Did You Know?

There are over 1,600 types of native flowering plants that grow in Plumas County, not including trees!

 

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Places to stay in Plumas County
Chester

Your perfect basecamp in charming old town Chester, centraly located to Lake Almanor and Lassen Volcanic NP.

Quincy

We’re not a five star accommodation but we are the jewel of the Sierra Mountains. Clean, comfortable and with many amenities.

Quincy

It’s easy to relax when you are surrounded by this much space and luxury. Our beautifully decorated suites offer all the comforts of home, and more.