Wildflower walks begin along the Yuba River | TheUnion.com

Wildflower walks begin along the Yuba River

Docent lead wildflower walks at the South Yuba River State Park begin at 11 a.m. March 16 and continue through May 19. Every weekend the park docents provide these guided walks.

This is a spectacular show of wildflowers. The wildflowers are a rainbow of golden poppies, purple lupine and white daisies. This is one of the best wildflowers shows in Northern California, according to the docents. Early in the season, walkers will find western buttercup, larkspur and shooting stars. By mid-season, the hills turn gold and purple with poppies and lupine.

In mid- to late-season, it is a special treat to find delicate fairy lanterns, Chinese houses and bird’s eye gilia. A real find is when you see the California dutchman’s pipe. You’ll learn about the unique symbiotic relationship it has with the pipevine swallowtail butterfly.

The docent-led hikes last about two hours. The Buttermilk Bend trail is an easy two-mile round trip with spectacular views of the South Yuba River. Meet in the north parking lot, just past the concrete bridge which crosses the South Yuba River on Pleasant Valley Road. Wear sturdy shoes; bring water, snacks and a camera.

Dogs are not permitted on the hike as the trail is narrow and the groups can be large. A $3 donation is requested. Be aware that rain may cancel the hike.

Docent Heather Barnes is offering a special hike this year on the Point Defiance trail. The hikes will begin at the north parking lot picnic table at 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays, March 12 and 26.

The hike will last up to three hours and is more demanding going up the switch back and traversing over and around rocks on the last part of trail by the river. It is quite a bit more challenging than Buttermilk Bend.

It is necessary to wear good shoes as it can be wet on the shady side and there will be climbing up and down rocks. Participants may see flowers that are not found on the Bridgeport hike such as the Sierra fawn lily.

To make the day complete, allow extra time to visit the covered bridge and barn (both built in 1862), the restored 1920s gas station and the Park Visitor Center. The visitor center has a collection of wildflower books and many other educational items.

It is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday through Sunday until Memorial Day and every day 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting May 25.

For more information or questions call the park at 530-432-2546 or go to http://www.southyubariverstatepark.org.

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