Living in a big city has it’s perks, but viewing wildflowers generally isn’t one of them. Orange County is just miles away from the concrete jungle of the City of Angels, yet it offers its inhabitants and visitors a chance to get up close and personal with nature. Orange County is home to a plethora of nature trails ideal for viewing local fauna, and enjoying the spring blooms of native plants. Although some local plant varieties bloom year round, Spring blossoms can prove to be the most picturesque and fragrant. If you ever find yourself in or around the Orange County area, I recommend stopping to smell the flowers at one of these three local areas:
1. Whiting’s Ranch
Whiting’s Ranch is a popular hiking and mountain biking area located in Foothill Ranch in South Orange County. Whiting’s is home to a beautiful assortment of plants including the Western Prickly Pear Cacti, Indian Paintbrush, and the Mustard plant. Prickly Pear Cacti are abundant on the hills surrounding these trails. In early spring Prickly Pears begin to bloom radiant pink and yellow tissue paper flowers which serve as a precursor to the plant’s delicious edible fruits in early winter. Indian Paintbrush blooms also speckle the hills in early Spring with vibrant red and burnt orange hues. These blooms make for excellent Macro shots, but if you are looking for a more large-scale bloom, look no farther than the vibrant yellow flowers of the Mustard plant; These blooms line extensive portions of the lower Serrano Cow Trail and add a beautiful splash of yellow the area.
2. Laguna Coast Wilderness (Crystal Cove)
The trails in and around Laguna Coast Wilderness offer a great opportunity to enjoy ocean views along with the fragrant smell of native coastal flowers. Easily accessible from PCH or Laguna Canyon Road, this convenient getaway will lead you past meadows of yellow and white Popcorn flowers and California Suncups and down valleys of florid Sweetpeas and white fragrant Wild Cucumber . Bommer Ridge trail, Morrow Canyon and Willow Canyon offer the best views of these blooms and can easily be accessed via parking on the right side of South Laguna Canyon Road.
3. Aliso and Wood Canyon
This hilly area is accessible by way of Aliso Creek Trail which is a multi-use paved road open to pedestrians, equestrians and bicyclists. In the spring this area experiences a wide variety of beautiful blooms including: Hummingbird Sage, Daisies, orange Poppies and several other species of wild flower. While wildflowers are visible from the main paved road, I recommend hiking up one of the dirt trails such as Wood Canyon Trail to get up close to these beautiful Spring blooms.