Rainy days and spring months in Calaveras County mean lush, green hillsides and colorful, open fields filled with countless wildflowers starting to bloom. Golden California poppies and purple lupine start making their arrival in mid-March in the westernmost towns like Copperopolis, Valley Springs, and San Andreas and continue through the spring as you climb in elevation. Apple blossoms and daffodils pop up here and there in our lower elevation towns like Murphys and historic Mokelumne Hill. All kinds of native wildflowers start popping up throughout the foothills from April to May, making any spring month the perfect time to enjoy a colorful weekend road trip to Calaveras County! Visit in July or August for our High Sierra wildflowers including Mariposa lilies, lupines, tiger lilies, and more. Read on for ways and ideas to get the most flower viewing sites throughout the region.
Drive to the Wildflowers
Hop in the car and explore some of Calaveras’ sweetest backroads and byways. In the winding river-canyons you will see redbud trees, lupine and lilacs starting to bloom. In ranch country near Copperopolis and Valley Springs, be on the lookout for poppy fields, mustard, and blossoming fruit and nut trees.
Some favorite destinations for lower elevation wildflower sightings from the car are:
- Jenny Lind’s Milton Rd. (which passes over spectacular Spring Calaveras River views) near the Valley Springs area.
- View a map of Milton Rd. here.
- Highway 4 from Copperopolis to Murphys
- Dogtown Rd. from Angels Camp to Murphys
- View a map of Dogtown Rd. here.
- Calaveritas Rd. from San Andreas to the Angels Camp area
- View a map of Calaveritas Rd. here.
- Choose your own adventure by mapping out a route along one or all of the interconnecting roads in the area. We recommend experiencing Mountain Ranch Rd, Sheep Ranch Rd, and Railroad Flat Rd. for a great combo of historic rural living and awesome wildflower sightings.
Make sure when you head out on the backroads in Calaveras County that you have a full tank of gas, snacks, and beverages in the car. You will come upon some rustic and rural road conditions (like the occasional pothole) on many of our narrow, windy country roads. So, take it slow, enjoy the pastoral landscapes, and possibly encounter the occasional cow or ambling sheep in the road. They do tend to escape!
Walk Among the Wildflowers
Spring is the perfect time of year to walk along the trails of the foothill lakes. The poppies have started to bloom, and as March goes on, more and more color will begin to shine. A moderate hike up the Table Mountain trail, part of the New Melones Recreation Area, offers a unique volcanic plateau overlooking Melones Lake and is home to vernal pools and many species of wildflowers.
Both entrances to New Melones Recreation Area, Tuttletown and Glory Hole, offer hikes of diverse skill levels as well as several great mountain biking opportunities. If you have a chance to visit the Valley Springs Tri-Lake area, check out trail systems at New Hogan and Camanche lakes in the Valley Springs area. These areas are awash with wildflowers, rolling green grasses and budding oak trees.
Take a leisurely stroll through Calaveras’ charming historic towns to see how each town cultivates native plants and flowers into the surrounding scenery. Downtown Mokelumne Hill, Angels Camp, and Murphys weave some of Calaveras’ natural beauty between their shops, tasting rooms, and restaurants.
Thanks to the dramatic change in elevation throughout the county, Calaveras and the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway corridor can have up to seven months of wildflowers. Due to the change in microclimates, the highest elevations can have wildflowers in peak condition as late as the last week of August. Check out Lake Alpine and Calaveras Big Trees State Park for higher elevation wildflowers as well as great hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.
Calaveras Big Trees Dogwood Festival
The profuse blooms of the dogwoods at the higher elevations between March and May is breathtaking. Strolling through the park and enjoying the delicate beauty of the dogwoods at the feet of these giant trees is accessible to just about everyone. Big Trees State Park seems to have a trail for almost every activity level, and the most popular is the approximately 1.5 mile (and mostly flat) North Grove Trail that loops back around to the Visitor Center. This year, the Dogwood Festival at Calaveras Big Trees State Park is being held on May 14th and will include a carriage ride around the park, live music, light lunch, wine tasting featuring Newsome Harlow wines and a souvenir wine glass. Tickets available at www.bigtrees.org starting March 15, 2022.
Even More Flowers
You will not want to miss the artistry of countless daffodils, tulips, and other exquisite flowers showcased throughout the Ironstone Vineyards property through the end of spring. If you miss the spring season, do not despair! There are hundreds of different flower varieties in the barrels along the winery’s walkway which change each the season.
In early March, before spring gets into full swing, the best place to view thousands of naturalized daffodil displays is at Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, CA. The road from downtown Murphys to Ironstone is lined with one of the largest displays of daffodils in the Gold Country. Over the years, the vineyard’s groundskeepers and master gardeners have planted more than 70 tons of daffodil bulbs. Quite remarkable when you realize that each ton contains about 17,000 bulbs meaning almost 1.2 million daffodils are on display throughout the Ironstone property. Mark your calendar for the Ironstone Spring Obsession Art Show happening in early March through June. Once inside the venue, you will be treated to all sorts of horticultural exhibits and artistic designs.
We hope you enjoy your visit here to Calaveras County and all the natural beauty it has to offer. Please feel free to contact the Calaveras Visitors Center 7 days a week at 209-736-0049 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM if you have any questions about viewing the wildflowers in the area. Or give us a call for more ideas about things to do, places to eat, and places to stay in Calaveras County.