Wildflower walks begin along the South Yuba River in March

When spring arrives in the Nevada County foothills there is no better way to welcome its arrival than with a walk among the beautiful wildflowers at South Yuba River State Park near Penn Valley.

State Park Docents will lead guided wildflower walks every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m., beginning March 7, and continuing through May 10.

The Buttermilk Bend Trail, which winds above the wild and scenic South Yuba River, is famous for the many species that bloom on its hills and slopes. Each season, observers are delighted with an ever changing tableau of spring color. Early season visitors will find Western Buttercups, Larkspur and Shooting Stars. By mid-season, the hills turn gold and purple with Tufted Poppies and Narrow Leaf Lupine.

Mid-to-late-season is a special treat as Fairy Lanterns, Chinese Houses, and Bird’s Eye Gilia reveal themselves. Mid-to-late season, it is a special treat to find the California Dutchman’s Pipe and learn about its unique symbiotic relationship with the pipevine swallowtail butterfly. Docents will point out these and many more species and points of interest along the trail.

Guided hikes last about two hours along the Buttermilk Bend trail, an easy 2.5 mile round trip hike. Meet at the trailhead in the north parking lot, just past the concrete bridge which crosses the South Yuba River on Pleasant Valley Road. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended along with a hat, sunscreen, and remember to bring water. A $3 donation is requested and appreciated.

(Dogs are not permitted on the guided walks as the trail is narrow and the groups can be large.)

To make your visit complete, allow extra time to visit the park Visitor Center, see the covered bridge (currently under restoration) and barn (both built in 1862) and the restored 1920s gas station.

The Visitor Center is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. There you will find a collection of wildflower books, nature and history displays and many other educational and gift items. Because of dry winter conditions the wildflower season may be full of mystery and surprises.

For more information throughout our short season, call the park at (530) 432-2546, or go to www.southyubariverstatepark.org. (rain will cancel walks)

-South Yuba River State Park

(Photo: SYRCL)

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