First Figueroa Wildflower Update for 2023

By Helen Tarbet of the U.S. Forest Service

Hello everyone and welcome to the 2023 Figueroa wildflower season!

As you all know, California has and is still experiencing severe storms and Los Padres National Forest has been severely affected with all of them. As a result, we have sustained major storm damage throughout the forest. While we are in the process of attempting to clean up and repair the damage, other storms come in and create more damage. We are continuing to push forward with our clean-up and repair efforts by utilizing our staff and bringing in outside help. With this being said, we ask for your patience during this wildflower season on Figueroa Mountain as currently some of the roads that we normally tour on our updates are closed until we can make them passable and safe for everyone to drive and enjoy. Fortunately, the wildflowers in the higher elevation are not in bloom yet as the temperature remains cold, and snow continues to fall during the recurrent storms. While the plants are starting to emerge, the flowers are still weeks behind. We are working diligently to open the rest of Figueroa Mountain Road as well as Happy Canyon and Sunset Valley and we’re hoping on having it opened all the way around soon.

So now that we know what the situation is, let’s get started on our short, yet beautiful Figueroa wildflower driving tour.

Starting at the first cattle guard and continuing to the canopy area, shiny buttercups, beautiful fiesta flowers, blue dick, fiddleneck, filaree, some sky lupine, lomatium, toothwort, Johnny jump-ups and popcorn flowers can be found. Right before the canopy area, on the turnout on the right, look for Johnny jump-ups, popcorn flowers, lomatium and shooting stars. Along the canopy area, sky and miniature lupine, fiddleneck, fillaree, blue dick, Johnny jump-ups, buttercups, fiesta flowers popcorn flower and a new beauty that I had never seen before known as henbit deadnettle. While this plant is an invasive species, it’s quite beneficial by providing nectar to the pollinators and foliage to the wildlife. Its adorable tiny flowers appear to

have a cute face which somewhat resembles a bunny or perhaps a clown. While there aren’t very many, look for them in the grassy areas.

As you continue to climb the mountain, stunning orange California poppies are starting to bloom along the road and on the rocky hillsides. Right before the rusty gate, sweet cream cups are in bloom sharing the area with fillaree. Continuing up the hill, keep an eye out for buttercup, blue dick, the start of prickly phlox, fiddleneck, blow wives, fillaree, lomatium, fiddleneck, coreopsis and shooting stars. In the moist, shaded areas along the rocky hillsides, wild canyon peas are also starting to bloom.

As you’re going up the road, look to your left and note that Grass Mountain is coming alive with more and more patches of orange (California poppies). Some patches of purple (Lupine) are also visible. While there are slides towards the top of the mountain where nothing will be blooming this year, the rest of the mountain will probably be showing off it’s much awaited super bloom within a week or 2.

At Vista Point (large gravel turnout about 11.4 miles from the bottom), you can see the ground turning yellow with charming goldfields and fillaree. There are also shooting stars and chocolate lilies that are rapidly fading but need not worry. These two beauties will be in bloom later in the season at the higher elevations.

In the area across Vista Point and along the road to the station, there is quite a variety of wildflowers in bloom including, poppies, blue gilia, coreopsis, blue dick, popcorn flower, ceanothus and shooting stars.

Beyond the station, the wildflowers slow down until you get to the field on the right before Tunnel Ranch Road. This section looks lovely with a display of beautiful buttercups.

In approximately half a mile further, the famous poppy hillside is absolutely breathtaking! One will find this gorgeous hillside carpeted in vivid orange and vibrant purple from the beautiful California poppies and sky lupine blooming together to create this stunning display. If you wish to stop and take pictures you are more than welcome to do so but please remember that this is a very narrow area and vehicles are prohibited from parking in the middle of the road for any period of time. There is a large turnout right before you get to the hillside where one can park and walk to the display, which is a very short distance away. Also remember that if you park along the side of road, your vehicle’s tires must be strictly on the dirt with no part touching the pavement. This allows any emergency vehicle the ability to get through should the need arise.

Beyond this area, there are very few flowers to report at this time. This gets us into the higher elevation area where the flowers aren’t ready to show off yet. The gate at Ranger Peak is closed due to storm damage and black ice, which as far as wildflower viewing is concerned is actually fine because, as previously mentioned, the wildflowers aren’t ready to come out yet.

I realize this isn’t a very exciting update and I apologize for that, but in light of the storm damage, the continuing cold weather and snow fall that hinders our wildflower watching, I just want to keep you in the loop of the current happenings in the Figueroa wildflower world.

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


Helen Tarbet

Written by Helen Tarbet

Helen Tarbet is the Recreation Technician for the Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia Ranger District, and frequently provides wildflower updates.

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  1. Great article but a few things to note. The main trail going up Grass Mountain is on private property (Midland School) which allows people to access it. They have the right to close the trails to the public at any time. Please keep trails clean and pick up any trash on your way out. Bring at least 2 liters of water per person if you are going to hike it. Know that Midland bathrooms are closed to the public. The nearest restroom is 5 miles away from the trailhead in Los Olivos. Respect no parking signs. Never park in front of a gate. As the article said, park off the road BUT do NOT park over dry grass. Your catalytic converter can start a FIRE very easily. Check under your car for any grass touching the converter or exhaust pipes. If the sign says trails are closed, please respect that.

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