Figueroa Mountain wildflower displays are spectacular. (photo: Los Padres National Forest)

The spring wildflower show on Figueroa Mountain is stunning this year. In previous years of our long, long drought in Southern California, Figueroa Mountain wildflowers went off early, before spring, with little to show—at least for us flower fans hoping to see fields of colorful wildflowers.

This year on the slopes of Figueroa Mountain, “Earth laughs in flowers,” as the great Ralph Waldo Emerson put it.

The laugh-out-loud flowers on the mountain are the poppies. They’re here, there, and everywhere along Figueroa Mountain Road and the blanket of orange on Grass Mountain is simply stunning.

Figueroa Mountain wildflower displays are spectacular. (photo: Los Padres National Forest)
Figueroa Mountain wildflower displays are spectacular. (photo: Los Padres National Forest)

Figueroa Mountain wildflowers are many and varied: Johnny jump-ups, fiddlenecks, milk maids, blue dicks, Chinese houses, shooting stars and buttercups. One of my favorite sights is the pink prickly phlox blooming amidst the green serpentine rock formation. If you’re a true Californian, the sight of the poppy, our official state flower, near outcroppings of serpentine, our official state rock, will really make your day.

And there’s lots and lots of bush lupine. In such abundance, their sweet smell perfumes the air.

Figueroa Mountain, located in Los Padres National Forest 25 air miles behind Santa Barbara, is one of the most botanically intriguing areas in Southern California. The mountain’s upper slopes are forested with Coulter pine, yellow pine and big cone spruce. Large specimens of California bay laurel and big leaf maple, and picturesque coastal, valley and blue oaks thrive on the mountain.

And there’s some fine hiking on the slopes of Figueroa Mountain. A favorite of mine is the jaunt through Fir Canyon, heading out on the trail from Davy Brown Camp. It’s a rewarding 7.5 miles round trip (with 2,400-foot elevation gain) to hike up to Figueroa Mountain Lookout. There are some well-designed (and wheelchair accessible) nature trails atop the mountain, too.

But back to the Figueroa Mountain wildflowers. Off Figueroa Mountain Road, below the Davy Brown trailhead, are generous displays of California poppies and bush lupine, with plus fiddlenecks and phacaelia, Above the Davy Brown trailhead are more poppies along with buttercups and shooting stars and…

Well, you get the picture. Take some short hikes off Figueroa Mountain Road and find the earth, at least on the slopes of Figueroa Mountain, laughing with flowers.

Hike On,
The Trailmaster
John McKinney