Post-Station Fire wildflower hike
"All is not lost!" proclaimed the leader of a recent California Native Plant Society and Sierra Club hike in the Station Fire burn area bordering the Angeles National Forest. She meant the return of mountain flora after last year's wildfire that burned 250 square miles, the largest fire in L.A. County history. Sure enough, there were carpets of purple phacelia and other colorful "fire followers" amidst the scorched hillsides and blackened skeletons of chaparral in Hall Beckley Canyon Recreation Area above La Canada. Chemicals from the ash and smoke helped nurture the bloom.
If you want to see this show, do so quickly because the flowers are only expected to last into early June. Here's what was blooming: large-flowered phacelia (which only pops up the season after a wildfire), caterpillar phacelia, Canterbury bells, datura, morning glory, California evening primrose, woolly blue curls, Indian pink, lupine, prickly phlox, California poppies, deerweed and more.
The trail starts on Palm Drive near the corner of La Sierra Drive and leads to the forest boundary and eventually to Mt. Lukens (in about 8 miles). It's hot and exposed, but try to make it at least to the water tank, several miles in (no good trail map exists as far as I know). At one point the trail squeezes between several-foot high phacelia (shown above).
Don't venture into the Angeles National Forest unless you want to pay a hefty fine. The forest is still officially closed and fines range from $5,000 for an individual to $10,000 for a group. The forest website has a memo describing the Station Fire closure, which is expected to continue through September.
For more information on wildflowers, check out Theodore Payne's Wildflower Hotline at (818) 768-3533, which usually only posts updates through May.
Photos by Julie Sheer/Los Angeles Times
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