Wildflower Walks on Buttermilk Bend Trail | TheUnion.com

Wildflower Walks on Buttermilk Bend Trail

We’re not at drought’s end, but the rains during the past month promise to give us a bumper crop of wildflowers on the Buttermilk Bend Trail at South Yuba River State Park. The beauty and variety of wildflowers on this trail are among the best in the region. Guided wildflower walks will be given at every Saturday and Sunday morning at 11 a.m. from March 6 to May 16. Guides on these walks are experienced docents who have been trained to know the flowers and many of their uses by Native Americans who preceded gold seekers and settlers. You will therefore hear interesting and humorous stories in addition to learning how to recognize various species.

You will also be provided with a free trail guide which describes the most popular flowers on the trail, and the trail itself will have names and pictures on small plaques near blooming flowers to help you identify them. You can buy a pictorial guide booklet for $5, which will help you identify flowers and remember what you’ve learned. A 128-page book is also available at the Visitor Center, which has larger and more extensive pictures and some of the stories developed by wildflower docents over the years.

Wildflower docents are led by Vicki Macdonald with assistance from Barbara Pixley. Both have experience dating back to Mary Miller, the pioneer of wildflower walks at Bridgeport, and were key in putting together the stories in the larger wildflower book.

Wildflowers bloom in a predictable sequence. For example, if you want to see the beautiful Bowl-tubed Iris and Shooting Star, and the uniquely interesting pipe-shaped Pipe Vine flower, be sure to join one of the early guided walks. Perhaps most beautiful of all the early blooming plants is the Western Redbud tree, namesake of the local Redbud chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

This tree blooms for only a short time so go early or you will miss it.

The tour lasts less than one and a half hours on the easy trail. Wear comfortable shoes and bring water. Dogs cannot be accommodated.

The park is at 17660 Pleasant Valley Road, eight miles north of Hwy. 20. Meet at the north parking lot near the trailhead (north of the river, east of the road).

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