Walker Canyon poppy fields
Some of the most beautiful poppy meadows in Southern California are located north from Lake Elsinore – Walker Canyon poppy fields. Countless flowers color the steep hillsides on both sides of Corona Freeway (going through Walker Canyon) nearly every year in late February – April. The most prominent flowers are California poppies but there are numerous other flowers including very rare ones.
Map of the site
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Many of the large intermontane valleys of California originally were covered with grassland – vegetation consisted mainly of grasses and other herbaceous plants. Trees for the most part were limited to sparse gallery forest along the streams (see Dry Creek as a contemporary example). In spring-time vast meadows turned into an endless sea of flowers.
People have changed the landscape of California tremendously over the last 100 – 150 years. Most of the natural grassland is gone – replaced by pasture, irrigated, built up. This turns the remaining patches of original grassland into a valuable asset of Californian nature.
Wilderness among the cities
Lake Elsinore area is located in the Greater Los Angeles Area – there are approximately 16 million people living here. The term “urban sprawl” for a while got even a synonym – “Los Angelization” due to endless quarters of private houses covering the former grassland.
Some areas near Los Angeles though have been spared of this development and are even relatively intact.
One of such places is seen from the I-15 highway between Alberhill and Lake Elsinore. On both sides of the road, there are desolate hills which for the most part of the year seem to be nearly lifeless. But in the spring – in late February – April – there happens miraculous change – greyish hills become covered with large bright colored patches of wildflowers.
Even more beautiful sights open to those who spend some time and effort to walk uphill. Vast meadows continue to the north, to Camelot Hills and to the south.
This island of grassland in the urbanized areas still is hosting numerous rare and endemic species. Walker Canyon and its vicinities are one of the few places where one can find Coulter’s Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri Harvey), San Bernardino spineflower (Chorizanthe parryi S.Wats.), and many other very rare plants.
Declaration of the area with some protection regime is considered here.
- Riverside County General Plan, accessed on February 27, 2010
Walker Canyon poppy fields are included in the following list:
California poppy meadows belong to the most impressive wildflower displays of the world. Their unusually clear and brilliant color seems to come from another, better reality. This flower has created a passion that is rare elsewhere in the world. Many Californians are obsessed with “wildflower hunting” – search of beautiful meadows, photographing, and just pure enjoyment of beauty.
Although California is one of the states in the United States of America, Americans often compare it to a separate country, e.g. “if California would be a country, it would have the eighth largest economy in the world”. We can go on with this comparison – California has more landmarks and attractions than many large countries of the world.
Biotope is a rather small area with uniform environmental conditions and a specific community of life. Wondermondo describes biotopes and ecosystems which have striking looks, look very beautiful, or have other unusual characteristics.
Elmer Wallace Holmes provides us with a thorough history of one of the most beautiful counties in the US, with its beautiful valleys and magnificent mountains, its equable climate, and fertile soil.
Along the Old Roads, Volume II: A History of the Portion of Southern California That Became Riverside County 1772-1893
A history of the formation and settlement of Riverside County, California (Volume 2 of 2).