Open to the generosity of nature: Julie Carville releases her new Tahoe wildflower book |

Open to the generosity of nature: Julie Carville releases her new Tahoe wildflower book

Laura Petersen
Special to The Union
Julie Carville, seen here in Balsam Root, releases her new Tahoe wildflower book 5:30 p.m. Monday at Lucchesi Wine Tasting Room, Grass Valley.
Photo by Roger McGehee |

Julie Carville could hike the rest of her life in the Sierra Nevada and never go anywhere else.

That is where she is most at home, among the wildflowers of Lake Tahoe and the Northern Sierra Nevada mountain range.

“It’s so incredibly magnificent. It’s a spiritual experience,” she said.

Author, photographer and self-taught botanist, Carville has spent the past three years capturing the spirit of John Muir’s “range of light” now compiled in her newly released guidebook, Tahoe’s Spectacular Wildflower Trails.

It’s a long awaited compilation of Tahoe’s 21 best scenic wildflower trails, a color flower guide for easy identification, Native American plant knowledge, a high country tree guide and 870 color photographs taken by Carville on her many ramblings.

Carville will share stories about high elevation wildflowers and give an overview of when and where to find the best wildflower displays in the Tahoe region and Grouse Ridge area during a special free book release held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday at Lucchesi Wine Tasting Room, 128 Mill St. in Grass Valley.

The book will be available for purchase and signing by the author at this Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) hosted event. Julie Carville is one of the Land Trust’s most popular trek leaders and was the 2014 recipient of BYLT’s John Skinner Sierra Outdoors Recreation Award.

This summer, Carville hopes to inspire folks living in lower elevation foothills of Nevada County to venture to mountain wonderlands just a short drive away, where the height of the wildflower season — lush with Mule’s Ears and Penstemons — spans from June to August.

“You get to experience spring for several months in a sense. I think it’s going to be another fabulous season,” she said.

In the next two weeks, Carville recommends visiting Loney Meadows in the Grouse Ridge Area for Primrose Monkeyflower and five species of violets. Nearby, there is the walk from Carr Lake to Island Lake and Penner Lake to see the tiny, pink flowers of Kelloggia and the delicate, lavender masses of Slender Navarretia.

In her book, Carville left in some classic hikes known to draw the crowds like Loch Leven, but made a point to include many new, off-the-beaten-track trails not found in her other book.

“I hiked these trails over and over again,” she said.

Each hike starts with six featured flowers, with Carville narrating the way as if she were on a walk with the reader. Carville selected hikes that are beautiful from the beginning and would appeal to many user groups – from the serious hiker to those timid of the outdoors. For instance, a strenuous hike to the top of Mt. Rose has a beautiful waterfall just one mile in.

“The beauty starts as soon as you get out of the car. They can hike, lie on their back and look at clouds,” she said.

For 40 years the region has beckoned Julie Carville on backpacking trips to alpine lakes, meadows, streams and summit visits where she has led guided hikes sharing what she loves.

In the 1970s, as a mother in her 30s, she started going deep in her connection with the natural world, after moving to Tahoe where she discovered a backyard filled with wildflower meadows. She spent the next 20 years of her life exploring the region and writing a weekly newspaper column.

She created Mountain Gypsy Wildflower Seminars where she offered wildflowers field classes to children and adults. She has led walks for private groups, environmental organizations, colleges and state agencies including: the California State Parks program, “Women in the Outdoors” and the State Parks Whitewater Division.

“To me the best impetus to learning is love and when we love something we can share it with others,” she said.

Carville makes a point to make botany interesting and fun for people of all ages and recommends everyone spend time alone in nature, just being with the flowers.

I want them to have their own amazing experience in their own way. I just want them to go out and open to what’s out there, the generosity of nature. The mountains will entertain you if are quiet and sink into their beauty,” she said.

Carville is the author of Hiking Tahoe’s Wildflower Trails, (aka. Lingering in Tahoe’s Wild Gardens), a contributing author of California’s Wild Gardens, and co-author of Wildflowers of Nevada & Placer Counties, CA and Trees, Shrubs & Woody Vines of Nevada & Placer Counties, CA.

Her newest book, Tahoe’s Spectacular Wildflower Trails is available at: Harmony Books, J. J. Jackson’s, The Earth Store and Prospector Nursery in Nevada City and The Bookseller in Grass Valley.

Contact Bear Yuba Land Trust Outreach Coordinator Laura Petersen at or 272-5994 x 211.

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