Figueroa Wildflower Update
By Helen Tarbet of the Los Padres National Forest
Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Update for April 04, 2019
Grass Mountain has been quite flashy and gorgeous, but never did quite fill out completely like other super bloom years. This year I noticed that there were still quite a few green patches where the poppies never made it through. What I am currently observing is that patches that were orange a week ago, are now turning green, which is telling me that the grasses are getting taller than the blooms and are beginning to overrun the poppies. If Grass Mountain is your primary viewing location, I recommend visiting this beautiful area within the next 2 weeks (3 tops) before the grasses take over.
However, if you are interested in seeing other incredible varieties of wildflowers throughout the mountain...
Let’s get started!
Starting at the first cattle guard and continuing to the canopy area, shiny buttercups, blue dicks, fiddlenecks, Johnny jump-ups, fillaree, sky lupine, common phacelia, lomatium, miniature lupine and miner’s lettuce are in bloom. Striking purple fiesta flowers are rapidly replacing the milk maids and more sky lupine are starting to bloom. Right before the canopy area, look to your right. The small field of shooting stars, popcorn flower, lomatium and Johnny jump-ups is still there, but not as much as two weeks ago. As one enters the canopy area, the hillside on the left has more sky lupine starting blooming as well as blue dicks. The canopy area is continuing to host beautiful Johnny jump-ups, blue dicks, lomatium, buttercups, fiesta flowers and fillaree.
As you continue to climb the mountain, stunning orange California poppies continue to bloom along the road and along the rocky hillsides. The beautiful snow covered appearance of the blooming Ceanothus is starting to lose its white flowers, at least on this side of Figueroa Mountain. Right before you get to the rusty gate, look on the ground to the right and find those adorable cream cups still in bloom, but slowing down. You will also see fillaree at this location. If you look to your left, you will see that Grass Mountain continues to put on a show, but as mentioned before, the grass is starting to cover the blooms. Just a reminder...if the weather is cloudy, rainy and/or cold, the poppies wrap themselves up and do not open until it is sunny and warm, so pick a sunny day for your visit so that the poppies can put show off for you.
Other wildflowers to look for as you continue your uphill drive include, buttercups, poppies, miner’s lettuce, coreopsis, fillaree, lomatium, shooting stars, death camas, popcorn flowers and blue dicks. Other new arrivals that are just starting to come out for the season include prickly phlox, wall flowers and canyon wild peas. One can also see more and more carpets of lovely yellow goldfields. If you wish to take pictures of Grass Mountain, look for the serpentine turnout on the left. This is a great vantage point as most of the south facing slope of Grass Mountain can be seen from this location.
When you get to Vista Point (large gravel turnout about 11.4 miles from the bottom), take this opportunity to stretch a bit by taking a short stroll along this area and while doing so, you will find more of those elegant goldfields, beautiful chocolate lilies, buttercups, fillaree, lomatium and lots of charming shooting stars (the picture on this update was taken there).
In the area across Vista Point and along the road to the station, look for the beautiful color combination of orange poppies, blue dicks and yellow coreopsis.
As you pass the station, one will start to see more and more shooting stars blooming and showing off their multitude of colors. As you approach the field on the right, just as you get to Tunnel Road, note that there are very few flowers so far. One can see a few buttercups, fillaree, blue dicks and wall flowers starting to appear.
About a half mile further, the famous poppy hillside, is really putting on quite a show with the stunning orange California poppies and gorgeous sky lupine. Poppies and sky lupine continue to multiply along the road and up to the Davy Brown. Trailhead and bush lupine is beginning to chime in. In the field where the Davy Brown trailhead is located, look for sweet chocolate lilies, lovely shooting stars and bright yellow buttercups. As you pass the Davy Brown Trailhead, look for more poppies, buttercups, shooting stars and lomatium. As you approach a large dirt turnout to your left, about 1⁄2 mile past the trailhead, look in the field around it and find the start of chocolate lilies, shooting stars and lomatium.
As one continues down the road to the rusty pipe fence on the right, one will observe that more buttercups, chocolate lilies, shooting stars and lomatium are starting to bloom.
Right before one starts to drive up to Ranger Peak, look at the grassy hillside to your right and see whimsical baby blue eye welcoming you. More baby blue eyes can be spotted halfway up the road to the top of Ranger Peak.
The stretch between Ranger Peak and Cachuma Saddle is really waking up! More and more patches/carpets of beautiful tufted California poppies are making quite a presence along this area. Bush poppies and bush lupine are starting to bloom and purple nightshade can also be found.
Sunset Valley continues to be quite the showstopper with its star studded cast. More and more gorgeous tufted California poppies are carpeting the hillsides and slopes in yellow/orange hues. Coulter’s lupine, blue dicks and popcorn flowers are joining the scene and adding much color and charm to the show! Miniature lupine, chia, lotus, wild cucumber, coreopsis, hedge nettles, Ceanothus and baby blue eyes are other beauties found in this remarkable area. Bush poppies and prickly phlox are getting ready to make a grand appearance with a couple spotted thus far.
Happy Canyon, in the higher elevation, is still starting slow with the beginning of tufted poppies, royal lupine fiddleneck, Ceanothus, blue dicks and clematis. Once one goes through the creek crossing, the large orange California poppies are becoming more visible. Past the yellow rusty gate, look at the rocky hillside on the right and one can start to see prickly phlox, wild canyon peas, Indian paintbrush, blue dicks and fiesta flowers.
Continuing down the hill, royal lupine, poppies, coreopsis, blue dicks, lavender globe gilias, popcorn flowers, mustard and lomatium can be found. Two mariposa lilies were also spotted, which is a good indicator that more are on their way. Beyond the shooting area, to the bottom of the hill, look for shooting stars, Coulter’s lupine, stinging lupine, buttercups, canyon peas and fiesta flowers.
A reminder to all wildflower viewers.....when stopping to take pictures or to take a hike, please do not block the road at any time nor double park. As you all know, this is a hazard and makes it impossible for emergency vehicles to get through if their assistance were required.
That’s all for this update. Look for our next wildflower update in two weeks. Until then, happy viewing! If you would like to be added to the Figueroa Wildflower Update email list, please send your request to Helen Tarbet by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Directions to Figueroa Mountain
Whether you are coming from Highway 101 North or South:
Get off on Highway 154 (the 154 exit closest to Buellton, not Santa Barbara)
Head east on Highway 154 (one can only go east)
About 2 miles on Highway 154, turn left on Figueroa Mountain Road (Watch for the sign at the Los Olivos exit): One line has an arrow pointing to the right and says “Grand Ave”. Another line has an arrow pointing to the left and says “Figueroa Mountain Road”.
Follow Figueroa Mountain Road all the way down (about 4 miles) until the road turns slightly and one goes over a small bridge.
Keep going up a slight incline and over the cattle guard.
This is where the Figueroa Wildflower Update begins.