Mt. Lola

DESCRIPTION:

The hike to the top of Mt. Lola is a great fall hike especially this year! Late snow melt has provided wet habitat that is full of seasonal wildflowers! From the trailhead to the top of Mt. Lola is about 11.5 miles and about 3000 feet of elevation gain, but the trek is worth the 360° view of the northern Sierra Crest, Sierra Buttes and beyond!

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Mt. Lola summit

 


 

IMG_0758DIRECTIONS:

From Interstate 80 near Truckee take the hwy 89 north for about 14.5 miles until you see the green forest service sign to Independence lake and turn left on this paved road for about 1.5 mile and then continue on Forest Service Road 07-10. Follow this road over a little bridge and the Little Truckee river. Turn right and proceed on Henness Pass road (301) for abut 3.1 miles and then veer left  when you see the Mt. Lola trail sign. There is a parking area, but no faciliti

 

 


UPPER MONTANE LIFE ZONE:

The hike to the top of Mt. Lola climbs through the Upper Montane zone which is typically found in the Tahoe area from lake level, 6230 ft. to 8,000 ft. The trail climbs through a mixed forest of Western White pines, Lodgepole pines and White firs as it climbs towards the mouth of Cold Stream canyon.

 

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Upper Montaine

The trail then ascends up along Cold Steam where it crosses several seasonal streams which still in September support a number of moisture loving plants like Common Monkeyflower, Towering Larkspur and Large-Leaved Lupin. As the trail climbs up to the summit of Mt. Lola the forest floor gives way to granitic & volcanic soils. In these areas lopok for several sub-alpine plants such as spreading Phlox and Daves buckwheat.

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flower gardens


THIS FLOWER HIKE only covers the trail  to the top of Mt Lola. A few of the still blooming plants as of September 8th, 2019 are included but to experience more of a floral display, hike this in August if it has not been a huge snow year

 

TRY ADDING YOUR OWN OBSERVATIONS FROM THIS TRAIL TO THE TAHOE BIG FLOWER project  ON iNATURALIST. 

 

 

 


 

 

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Mt. Lola Trailhead

The hike to the summit of Mt. Lola begins at the trailhead and begins as a single track trail surrounded by a mix of White Fir understory including Sierra Current, Wavy Aster and a few Crest Lupin which have finished blooming.

 

 

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white fir understory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Wavy-leafed aster

Common Name: Wavy Aster
Scientific Name: Eurybia interifolia
Family: Asteraceae
Notes: This aster is best identified by its scraggily looking petals and wavy edged leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The trail climbs towards cold stream Canyon and eventually follows Cold Stream through several late blooming “gardens” of Big-leaved Lupin,  Corn Lilies, Soft arnica and Common Monkey Flower.

 


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Cold Stream

 

 

 

 

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late blooming floral garden

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Common Name: Common Monkey Flower

Scientific Name: Erythranthe guttatus

Family: Phrymaceae
Notes: This flower has a hinged stigma which may close if the pollen received is not compatible

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Common Monkey Flower


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Large-Leaved Lupin

Common Name: Large-leaved Lupin

Scientific Name: Lupinus polyphyllus

Family: Fabaceae

Notes: This lupin like others has symbiotic bacteria in its root nodules which help fix nitrogen from the air into nitrates that the plant can use.

 

 

 


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Farther up the canyon the trail  intersects a 4 W drive road. Hike along this road until you come to a fork..take the left fork and the continuation of a single track trail until you reach Cold Stream meadow.

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Cold Stream Meadow

 


The trail continues along the north end of the meadow which is full of mule ears and several herbs that have finished blooming but look for late blooming  Yarrow, Coulter’s daisy,  Ranger buttons and 

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Yarrow


Common Name: Yarrow

Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: Yarrow is an astringent and will cause blood to clot by constricting blood vessels.

 

 

 


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Coulter’s Daisy (Fleabane)

Common Name: Coulter’s Daisy (Coulter’s Fleabane)

Scientific Name: Erigeron coulteri

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: This plant will grow up to 2 feet tall!

 


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Ranger Buttons

Common Name: Ranger buttons

Scientific Name: Angelica capitellata

Family: Apiaceae

Notes: Ranger buttons often host several different kinds of insects.

Check out the yellow faced bumble bee!

 

 


Common Name: Nettle-leaf Giant Hyssop

Scientific Name: Agasatache urticifolia

Family: Lamacieae

Notes; Check out the pinkish lavender rosy purple calyx with 4 white stamens, purple anthers and  triangular leaves. The native Americans would seep leaves for tea!  Also Monarch & Western tiger swallowtails feed on the leaves.

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Nettle-leaved Giant Hyssop

 

 


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At the far end of the meadow there is a campsite nestled in a grove of trees and beyond the campsite the route to the summit crosses Cold Stream where several moisture loving plants can still be seen blooming this late. Look for Giant Red Paintbrush, Arrow-leaved Groundsel and Mountain Blue bells which have reached the end of their blooming season.

 


 

 

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Giant Red Paintbrush

Common Name: Giant Red paintbrush

Scientific Name: Castilleja miniata                        

Family: Orbanchaceae

Notes: This paintbrush like others in its family is a root parasite on various host plants.

 

 


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Arrow-leaved groundsel

Common Name: Arrow-leaved Groundsel/          Butterweed

Scientific Name: Senecio triangularis

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: Check out Bombus bee feeding on the nectar of this flower.

 


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Mountain Blue Bells

Common Name: Mountain Blue Bells

Scientific Name: Mertensia ciliate

Family: Boraginaceae

Notes: Flowers  hang down in panicles and are also known as “lungworts” for their use in treatment of lung diseases.

 


There is a campsite at the far end of meadow. Beyond the campsite the route crosses Cold Stream where several moisture loving plants can still be seen blooming such as. Look for a few Lewis Monkey flowers,  Sierra Yampah and Corn Lilies still blooming!

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late blooming flower garden with Corn Lilies, Big leaved lupin and groundsel

 


 

 

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Lewis Monkeyflower

Common Name: Lewis Monkey flower

Scientific Name: Erythranthe lewisii

Family: Phrymaceae

Notes: This monkey flower has a disxerning stigma which when touched will close against the upper petals thus preventing pollination by incompatible  pollen!


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Sierra Yampah

Common Name: Sierra Yampah

Scientific Name: Prideridia parishii

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: This flower is also known as Sierra Queen Anne’s lace.

 


 

Common Name: Corn Lilies

Scientific Name: Veratum californicum

Family: Melanthiaceae

Notes: The leaves of this plant are toxic and should not be eaten! Native Americans used the boiled liquid from the leaves as a contraceptive.

 


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After the trail crosses the small stream and flower garden it starts to climb and reaches a junction with a faint trail to the right…this spur leads to a small waterfall which tumbles down a slanted rock face

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Once back on the main trail it will veer away from Cold stream and start a climb that will leave the white firs and start to pick up the Mountain Hemlocks and a few views of snow on the sides of the summit of Mt. Lola.

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As the trail accends though the Hemlocks it looks as if the winter snows just  recently melted. Look for Dave’s Knotweed, Pine lupin and a few Spreading Phlox still in bloom!

 


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Daves Knotweed

Common Name: Dave’s knotweed

Scientific Name: Koenigia davisiae

Family: Polygonaceae

Notes: This knotweed is typically found above 7,000 ft and is often characterized by its early red/pink leaves.

 

 


 

Common Name: Pine Lupin

Scientific Name: Lupinus alibcaulis

Family: Fabaceae

Notes: This Lupin can be identified by its purple to white flowers and its leaflets which have 5-10 leaflets and After the flower is pollinated it turns brown!

 


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Spreading Phlox

Common Name: Spreading Phlox

Scientific Name: Phlox diffusa

Family: Polemoniaceae

Notes: Once the phlox flower is pollinated it changes from whitish to pink/lavender.

 


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The trail continues towards  the summit of Mt. Lola. Look for a few other late blooming flowers  amongst the granitic soil such as  Scarlet Gilia, Mountain Pennyroyal and an occasional Fritillary butterfly on Mountain Pennyroyal.

 


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Scarlet Gilia

Common Name: Scarlet Gilia (Skyrocket)

Scientific Name: Ipomopsis aggregata

Family: Polemoniaceae

Notes: The long flower tubes of this flower attract hummingbirds which insert their long tongues and obtain the nectar within the tubes.

 


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Common Name: Fritillary

Family: Nymphalidae

Notes: This Fritillary is feeding on a Mountain Pennyroyal flower

 


As the trail winds up to the summit look for recent blooming Alpine paintbrush

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Alpine Paintbrush

Common Name: Alpine Paintbrush

Scientific Name: Castilleja nana

Family: Orbanchaceae

Notes: This paintbrush has very hairy leaves and like other paintbrushes is a hemiparasite on the roots of nearby plants.


A the trail reaches the summit spectacular 360 views await the hiker!

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view towards Castle Peak

 


 

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view towards Independence Lake & Stampede reservoir

 


 

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view towards Sierra Buttes

 


 

All photographs were taken by Lynn Hori. Plant information was gathered from: Plants of the Tahoe Basin by Michael Graft, Tahoe’s Spectacular Wildflower trails by Julie S. Carville,  the Jepson Manual 2012 and The Laws field guide to the Sierra Nevada by John Muir Laws. Trail information was gathered from Afoot & A field Reno Tahoe by Mike White.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 

Rock Creek/Little Lakes Valley

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Trail description: The Rock Creek/Little lakes Valley is a classic glacier carved valley situated at about 10,000 feet in elevation. Surrounded by the John Muir Wilderness with views of 13,000 foot peaks from anywhere in the canyon, this area offers a unique glimpse into the Eastern Sierra bioregions (Jepson SNH & SNE) where the Great Basin floristic region meets the Sierra Nevada. The best time to see and hike this area is Late May until September (except 2017 where many of the trails still had snow patches and lots of water.)

 


 

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Inyo Beardstongue

Flowers featured: 

Hiking along the Little Lakes Valley trail, Ruby lake and Mono pass trails feature some endemic alpine plants adapted to survive in the higher elevations of the Rock creek area (9,000 ft -10,000ft.)  Plants such as Inyo Beardstongue, Penstemon papillatus and Inyo tonestus, Tonestus piersonii , Alpine Coloumbine, and Quillworts may also be seen.

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Inyo Tonestus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2018 update:

August is still a great time to visit Little Lakes Valley. Beautiful floral display still adorn the trail and lake areas.

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Look for White columbine (Aquiligia pubescens) amongst Subalpine Larkspur ( Delphinium polycladon) as well as an occasional Sierra Gentian (Gentianopsis holopetala).                                                                                                                               

 

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White Columbine & Sierra Larkspur

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Alpine Genetian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Take the Mono Pass trail and enjoy the great views back to Marsh, Heart and box lakes. Climb up to Ruby Lake and go for a swim before heading up to Morgan Pass

Ruby Lake                                        View Marsh, Heart & Box lakes


 

 

 

9DSC_1342.TrailmapJPGDirections:

Rock Creek/Little Lakes Valley is 31 miles south of Mammoth lakes off of Hwy 395 and about 8.5 miles west from Tom’s Place on Rock Creek Road.

 

 

 

 


 

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Rock Creek Lake campground

Accomodations:

The Rock Creek canyon area offers 8 National forest campground opportunities. The Rock Creek campground is located next to Rock Creek Lake and is the closest to the Mosquito Flat trail head. The Rock creek resort has cabins that can be rented during the summer season. (http://www.rockcreeklakesresort.com/4)

 

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Rock creek Lakes Resort

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Sub Alpine

Sub-Alpine and Alpine Life Zones:

The hike along the Little Lakes Valley and Ruby Lakes trail are in a region above 10,000 feet characterized by Lodgepole and Whitebark pines or the Alpine regions above tree line. The native plants/trees are well adapted to survive these higher elevations where winters can provide 30-40 inches of precipitation mostly in the form of snow. These plants are almost all perennial with adaptations that include deep taproots and small reflective, light colored leaves. Many of these use some form of vegetative reproduction to enable them to reproduce in a very limited growing season.

 


 

THE FLOWERS FEATURED IN THIS TRAIL BLOG  ARE ORGANIZED BY THEIR OCCURANCE ALONG THE TRAIL THROUGH THE DIFFERENT BIOTIC ZONES.   (All plants listed were seen between  in August 2016 & July 2017.)

 


TRY ADDING YOUR OWN OBSERVATIONS FROM THIS TRAIL TO THE Flora and Fauna of Hikes in Lake Tahoe project  ON iNATURALIST. 

 


 

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Mosquito Flat Trail head: This trail head is one of the highest in the Sierras at about 10,200 feet in elevation. The Lakes Valley trail meanders along Rock Creek and skirts around Mack, Marsh, Heart, Box, Long and Chicken Foot lakes which is an easy climb with gorgeous views of the many 13,000ft peak. The trail continues its climb and eventually reaches Morgan Pass at about 11.000 ft. The hike from the trail head to Morgan pass is about 8 miles round trip

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Morgan Pass

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Mt. Morgan

 


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John Muir Wilderness: 

The trail enters the John Muir Wilderness a few 100 yards pass the Mosquito Trailhead sign.

 


 

The Exposed granitic soil along the trail into the John Muir Wilderness is dotted with plants adapted to long sun exposure and dry soils such as the Nuttall’s Phlox, Prickly phlox, Singlehead Goldenbush, Sulfur Buckwheat and an occasional Wax Current

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Sulfur Buckwheat

Common Name: Sulfur Buckwheat 
Scientific Name: Eriogonum umbellatum
Family: Polygonaceae
Notes: This plant has bisexual flowers. The color of the petals changes from yellow to burnt orange as the season progresses. Buckwheats are often late bloomers and attract a variety of pollinators such as moths.

 


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Nuttall’s Phlox

Common Name: Nuttall’s Phlox
Scientific Name: Leptosiphon nuttallii
Family: Polygonaceae
Notes: Nuttall’s phlox has whorled pointy leaves but is gentler to the touch compared with Prickly phlox.

 

 

 


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Singlehead Goldenbush

Common Name: Singlehead Goldenbush

Scientific Name: Ericameria suffruticosa

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: This Aster has ray heads only and is characterized by undulating leaves and petals that are seem to be in disarray. It is grows sporadically on dry granitic slopes.

 


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Wax Current

Common Name: Wax Current
Scientific Name: Ribes cereum
Family: Grossulariaceae
Notes: Little lakes basin only has 1 current, Wax current and it characteristically has no thorns like Mountain Gooseberry. The berries are edible but bland however the Hoary Comma butterfly and Cassin’s finches love the berries.

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Prickly Phlox

Common Name: Prickly phlox (Granite Phlox)

Scientific Name: Linanthus pungent
Family: Polomoniaceae
Notes: Prickly phlox resembles Nuttall’s with its 5 united petals and five stamens but it is densely covered with prickly leaves and larger flowers set it apart.


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The trail continues up a granitic staircase known as “Crankcase grade”. Look for plants that like this open granitic soil like Applegate’s Paintbrush, Squirrel tail grass, Sierra Soda Straw and a few Nuttall’s Larkspur.

 


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Applegate’s Paintbrush

Common Name: Applegate’s Paintbrush

Scientific Name: Castilleja applegatei

Family: Orbanchaceae

Notes: This plant like other paintbrushes is a root parasite on neighboring plants. It can be identified from other reddish paintbrushes by its wavy leaves


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Squirrel tail grass

Common Name: Squirrel tail grass

Scientific Name: Elymus elymoides

Family:P oaceae

Notes: This grass is related to other California bunch grasses. Notice that the flowers branch from a clump of stems.

 


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Sierra Soda Straw

Common Name: Sierra Soda Star
Scientific Name: Angelica lineariloba
Family: Apiaceae

Notes: This plant is usually found in gravely slopes. It is a great entomologist plant because the large flower heads attract lots of bugs and beetles!


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Nuttall’s Larkspur

Common Name: Nuttall’s Larkspur
Scientific Name: Delphinium nuttallianum
Family: Ranunculaceae
Notes: This plant is usually found in gravely slopes.

 


14DSC_0045trailfrCrankcaseAfter Crankcase grade the trail levels out for a while and in this open sub-alpine terrain look for Little Elephant heads, a few Anderson’s Asters and a distinguished looking Mt. Timonthy in the grass family.

 

 


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Little Elephant’s Head

The Common Name: Little Elephant Heads

Scientific Name: Pedicularis attolens 
Family: Orbanchacea
Notes: Little Elephant heads have many dense white hairs and it’s “trunk” does not extrude out of the influence like the other larger ” Elephant heads”.


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Anderson’s Aster

Common Name: Anderson’s Aster
Scientific Name: Oreostemma alpigenum
Family: Asterace
Notes: This daisy like flowers stem are more up wright compared with wandering daisies

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Mountain Timothy

Common Name: Mountain Timothy
Scientific Name: Phleum alpinum
Family: Poaceae
Notes: This member of the grass family stands out for its flower is topped with neat tightly packed spikes.

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As the trail  ascends towards the junction for Morgan/Mono pass a few moist areas left over from the late snow melt provide the moist habitat needed for the Giant Red Paintbrush and Swamp onion with its characteristic onion odor along with several Willows, the Sierra Willow and the Red/Mono willow (Sierra yellow stem, Red stems),  Alaska Rush and Lushy Lupin.


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Giant Red Paintbrush

Common Name: Giant Red Paintbrush
Scientific Name: Castilleja miniature
Family: Orbanchaceae
Notes: This Paintbrush is characterized by its large reddish florets (which are actually bracts not petals) and is usually found in moist areas.

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Common Name: Swamp Onion
Scientific Name: Allium validum
Family: Alliaceae
Notes: This distinctive purple flowered onion had the characteristic odor of an onion!

Common Name: Sierra Willow
Scientific Name: Salix orestera
Family: Salicaceae
Notes: Sierra willow is one of the 3 willows found in the Rock Creek drainage. This willow is a large multi stemmed shrub growing near water. It is noticeable different than the Red/Mono willow with its yellow-green twigs (compared with the Mono willow which has red stems.)


Common Name: Mono Willow
Scientific Name: Salix planifolia
Family: Salicaceae
Notes: Mono Willow is smaller than the Sierra Willow and has dark red stems. The inner bark of willows contains salicylic acid which is the active ingredient in aspirin.

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Alaskan Rush

Common Name: Alaska Rush
Scientific Name: Juncus metensianus
Family: Juncaceae
Notes: This rush has dark brown flowers in terminal head-like clusters. Take a look through a hand lens at the pink stigma arms! This plant can usually be found in wet places.

 

 


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Lushy Lupin

Common Name: Lushy Lupin 
Scientific Name: Lupinus lepidus
Family: Fabaceae
Notes: This lupin can be found in moist areas such as the seeps produced by snow melts. It has very green succulent looking leaves

15DSC_1406.CaterpillerJPGCheck out the cool caterpiller along the trail!


The trail then comes to a junction, the left fork continues along the Lakes Valley trail to Morgan Pass and the right leads up to Ruby lake and Mono pass. (In some years like 2017, the trails may still have quite a bit of swow!)


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Trail to Morgan pass levels off to give great views of the Lakes valley 13,000 + peaks.

From “Crankcase grade”. This blog  is first  going to follow the left junction to Mack, Marsh, Box and Long lakes


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Sierra Juniper

Look for the  first siting of a Sierra Juniper (some of the oldest in the Sierras, up to 10,00ft) mixed in amongst the Lodgepole pines

 


Common Name: Sierra Juniper
Scientific Name: Juniperus grandis
Family: Cupressaceae
Notes: These trees are some of the oldest trees in the Eastern Sierras (up to 1000 years) These trees have male and female cones.

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Lodgepole Pine

Common Name: Lodgepole pine
Scientific Name: Pinus contorta murrayana
Family: Pinaceae
Notes: This tree can be found all over the sierras in many different habitats but is most abundant in moist areas around lakes. They are able to tolerate water-logged areas.

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As the trail climbs up Little Lakes Valley more views of the 13,000 foot peaks come into view. From left to right:  Mt. Morgan, Rosy Finch Peak, Pyramid peak, Bear Spire, Mt Dade, Mt Abbot


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The trail passes through several moist areas which support sub-alpine  plants that require more water such as Shooting stars (fields of them in 2017) and many Few Flowered Meadow Rues and a few Stellaria dotted in between the Alpine Gentian.


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Alpine Shooting Stars

Common Name: Alpine Shooting stars
Scientific Name: Primula jeffery 
Family: Primulaceae
Notes: This plant likes grassy areas near stream boarders. The flower of shooting stars looks as if is inverted! The flowers are often “buzz pollinated” by bees so as to knock off the pollen on to  their bodies.
 

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Few Flowered Meadow Rue

Common Name: Few Flowered Meadow Rue
Scientific Name: Thalitrum sparsifloium
Family: Ranunculaceae
Notes: The flower petals of this plant are lacking and the sepals are white. Notice the prominent stamens protruding out of the flower.

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Stellaria

Common Name: Stellaria

Scientific Name: Stellaria  longipines

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Notes: These plants are often found in moist marshy areas.


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Alpine Genetian

 

Common Name: Alpine Genetian

Scientific Name: Genetiana newberryi

Family: Gentianaceae

Notes: Check out the flower of the Genetian with its long tubular throat marked with green dots and green nectar lines. These flowers will close when it rains.


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Kalmia

Up the trail before Marsh Lake there are some large patches of Kalmia (Alpine Laurel) which are still blooming in July 2107 as a late snow melt resulted in later blooming .

 Common Name: Kalmia (Alpine Laurel)
Scientific Name: Kalima polifolia
Family: Ericaceae
Notes:This plant is a characteristic plant of the sub-alpine Sierra  and does will in acidic soils.

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Marsh Lake 7.2017

The trail then reaches the east end of Marsh Lake. Look along the moist areas near the lake for plants that depend on this wetter environment like, Slender cinquefoil and Primrose Monkeyflower.


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Slender Cinquefoil

Common Name: Slender Cinquefoil
Scientific Name: Potentilla gracilis
Family: Rosaceae
Notes: This flower has 5 green sepals below the yellow petals and additional smaller bractlets between each lobe (unlike buttercups which have no sepals.)

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Primrose Monkeyflower

Common Name: Primrose Monkeyflower
Scientific Name: Erythranthe primuloides
Family: Phyrmaceae
Notes: Notice the red markings, nectar lines which attract pollinatiors.


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Marsh Lake 7. 2016

 

 Later in the season (or a dryer year like 2017) the edges of Marsh Lake dry out and support Rosy Pussy Toes and Alpine Golden rod, Sierra Whorled Penstemon as well as Dwarf Billberry which is related to Blueberries


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Common Name: Rosy Everlasting

Scientific Name: Antennaria rosea

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: This plant is a member of the aster family but is missing ray flowers. The ray flowers are covered with bracts so that the heads are small and inconspicuous. These plants tend to form mats among grasses and sedges. Anntenaria are related to the swiss Edelweiss


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Alpine Golden Rod & Sierra Whorled Penstemon

 

 

Common Name: Alpine Golden rod

Scientific Name: Solidago multiradiata

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: Several of the Paiute Indians use this plant in solution to treat cuts, sores and burns.

 

Common Name: Sierra Whorled Penstemon

Scientific Name: Penstemon heterodoxus var heteroduoxus 

Family: Plantanginaceae

Notes: This penstemon is a high elevation species (9,000ft) and is the only penstemon with blue flowers arranged in whorls. These clusters are sticky and glandular.


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Showy Sedge

Along the edge of Marsh Lake there are large patches of sedges including Showy Sedge

Common Name: Showy Sedge

Scientific Name: Carex spectabilis

Family: Cyperaceae

Notes:This sedge is definitely the most abundant one in the Rock Creek area. It is particularly noticiable due to the terminal male anthers bursting with pollen.


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Heart Lake

 As the trail leads to Heart Lake look for Monks Hood with its characteristic folded petalsOn the west side of  Heart lake check out the Western Rosewort, a member of the Stonecrop family and a few Mt.Spirea along the trail.


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Monks Hood

Common Name: Monks Hood
Scientific Name: Aconitum columbianum
Family: Ranunculaceae
Notes: Check out the small petals enclosed by large blue sepals with the upper sepal forming the hood. Bumble bees are one of the few pollinators that can reach deep into the flower

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Western Rosewort

Common Name: Western Rosewort
Scientific Name: Rhodiola integrifolia
Family: Crassulaceae
Notes: This member of the Crassulaceae family is a small growing succulent with bluish green leaves and the purple flowers attract the Phoebus Parnassian butterfly

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Mt Spiraea

Common Name: Mt. Spiraea
Scientific Name: Spiraea splendens
Family: Rosaceae
Notes: Check out rock crevices along the trail for Mt. Spiraea

34DSC_0212CloudFormation

As the trail ascends towards Box lake check out the afternoon skies!


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Box Lake

Box lake is another one of the cirque lakes that the Little lakes trail skirts passes by.

36DSC_0258Vernal Pool

vernal pool

On the right side of the trail look for a Vernal pool which provides the prefect habitat for another

FEATURED FLOWER: Quillworts


Common Name: Quillwort

Scientific Name: Isoetes bolanderi

Family: Isoetaceae

Notes: The quillworts are in their own family but resemble ferns. Their preferred habitat is shallow pools created by snow melt.


 

 

Vernal pools offer a good habitat for the Yosemite Toad to lay its eggs…check out all the tadpoles of the Yosemite Frog!


Look in the drying mud puddles around the vernal pool for butterflies such as the Coppers and Painted Ladies which often seek out these areas for salt deposits

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Copper butterflies


 

36DSC_1390Megachile

Also look for native bees such as this Megachile bee feeding in the dried mud of this vernal pool

 

 

 

 

 


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hiking to Longs Lake

 

As the trail continues to climb towards Long Lake look along a granitic talus slope look for  Fireweed which  often blooms later in the summer  and Leitchlin’s Mariposa Lily sticking up between Cream bush amongst the granite rocks

 


 

 

 

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Fireweed

Common Name: Fireweed

Scientific Name: Chamerion angustifolium 

Family: Onagraceae

Notes: This plant often grows in disturbed areas and is a favorite of Rufus Hummingbirds.

 


37DSC_0254Leitchlin'sMaiposa Lily

Leitchlin’s Mariposa Lily

 

Common Name: Leitchlin’s Mariposa Lily

Scientific Name: Calochortus leitchtlinii

Family: Liliaceae

Notes: These plants collect moisture and store it is their deep root system and therefore can grow in dryish granitic slopes in between other plants such as Cream bush


37DSC_0256.CreambushJPG

Cream bush

ommon Name: Cream bush

Scientific Name: Holodiscus discolor

Family: Rosace

Notes:  The leaves of this plant are distinct in the way they have serrated edges with prominant views.


41DSC_0289TalusSlopeL

FEATURED FLOWER: hiking from Box to Long lake look for Alpine Columbine nestled amongst the granite talus slopes

Common Name: Alpine Columbine

Scientific Name: Aquilegia pubescent

Family: Ranuncularaceae

Notes: This columbine shares its habitat with the Pika which will dry leaves and flowers from this plant to eat in the winter

 


As the trail climbs up to Long lake there are usually several creek crossings. In July 22, 2016 the crossing Rock Creek was definitely doable, but in July , 2017 (photo on right) it was rather a challenge.

 

 


Growing out of the Talus slopes surrounding the south side of Long Lake look for an occasional Alpine Speedwell recognized by their purplish/lavender colored petals. Mixed alongside of the Speedwells might be some Alpine Catchfly with their glabrous hairs and nestled amongst these flowers might also be Carpet clover and an occasional Sibbaldia

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Long Lake

 


41DSC_0284AlpineSpeedwell

Alpine Speedwell

Common Name: Alpine Speedwell

Scientific Name: Veronica wormskjolii

Family: Plantaginaceae

Notes: This colorful plant is often found under Sierra Willow and unlike others of its family it only has 2 stamens and barely an irregularity in its petals.


41DSC_0288AlpineCatchfly

Alpine Catchfly

Common Name: Alpine Catchfly

Scientific Name: Silene sargentii

Family; Caryophllaceae

Notes: The name “catchfly” refers to the sticky glandular secretions which probably do not catch a lot of flies but many grains of sand! The inflated calyx is a characteristic of many plants in this family.

 

 

 


41DSC_0294CarpteCloverJPG

Carpet clover

Common Name: Carpet clover

Scientific Name: Trifolium monanthum

Family: Fabaceae

Notes: This member of the pea family has root nodules which carry a symbiotic bacteria, rhizobia which fixes nitrogen and helps this plant survive in nitrogen poor soils

 


 

41DSC_0296Sibbaldia

Sibbaldia

Common Name: Sibbaldia

Scientific Name: Sibbaldia procumbens

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: This plant is ground hugging and charactrized by 5 bracelets between the sepals and small petals with only 5 stamen.


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Long Lake

 

As the trial continues around the west end of Long lake many more plants can be found that love the moist snow melt edges of the lake  especially members of the Ericaceae family, Mt. Heather and Labrador Tea.

 


 

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Mt. Heather

Common Name: Mt. Heather

Scientific Name: Phyllodoce breweri

Family: Ericaceae

Notes: These heather like others in their family have a mutualistic relationship with mycorrihizal bacteria in the soil that help it to absorb essential nutrients from the soils in which it grows.

 


43DSC_1385.WestLabTeaJPG

Labrador Tea

Common Name: Labrador Tea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron columbian

Family: Ericaceae

Nos: The name is misleading since the leaves smell like turpentine!

 


 

42DSC_0302ToadFlax

Toad Lily

Along the moist areas at the west end also Look for Toad Flax  which is in its own family: Tofieldaceae

 

 

 

 

Common Name: Toad Flax

Scientific Name: Triantha occidentals

Family: Tofieldiacea

Notes: This plant is not in the lily family but has been moved to its own family.


2DSC_0315 InyoTonestus

Tonestus piersonii

FEATURED flower: Check out the tucked up in the crevices of the talus rocks along the trail look for the endemic Inyo Tonestus (Cushion plants)

Common Name: Inyo Tonestus

Scientific Name: Tonestus piersonii

Family: Asteraceae

Notes:The place where this California endemic was first described is the Upper Rock Creek Lake basin and it maybe actually seen where it was originally found! It is characterized by leaves which are toothed and round daisy like heads with short yellow rays.

 


 

In the granitic soils along the trail is also a good habitat for Mt. Sorrel and Oval-leaved Buckwheat.

 

Common Name: Mt. Sorrel

Scientific Name: Oxyria digyna

Family: Polygonaceae

Notes: Mt. Sorrel is considered an “indicator plant” for the Alpine Zone (elevation is around 9,000-10,000 ft) and refers to the region above timberline. Look for this plant’s kidney shaped leaves and reddish clusters of tiny flowers. Check out the taste of the leaves which can be used to fulfill ones thirst on a hot day!

42.1DSC_0337

Mt Sorrel

 


42DSC_0328.OvalLvvBuckwheatJPG

Oval-Leaved buckwheat

Common Name: Oval-leaved Buckwheat

Scientific Name: Erigonum ovalifolium

Family: Polygonacea

Notes: This buckwheat is a typical alpine “cushion plant” with its pale color, dense hairy leaves and long tab root.

 

 


42DSC_0332LongLakeMtDade

Long Lake

At the west end of Long Lake in the moist meadow area near the shore is another

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Piersen’s Paintbrush

 FEATURED FLOWER:

Common Name: Piersens Paintbrush

Scientific Name: Castilleja peirsonii

Family: Orobanchaceae

Notes: This paintbrush like others in its family is a root parasite on nearby plants,

 

 


43DSC_0351.clubMossIvesiaJPG

Clubmoss Ivesia

Also look for Clubmoss Ivesia and another cool Paintbrush, Castilleja lemmonii  as well more showy Sedge

Common Name: Clubmoss Ivesia

Scientific Name: Ivesia lycopodioides

Family: Rosaceae

Notes: This member of the rose family has small leaves that are often mistaken for fern leaves and is sometimes referred to as “Mousetails”.

 


43DSC_0354MeadowPaintC.Lemmonii

Lemmon’s Paintbrush

Common Name: Lemmon’s Paintbrush

Scientific Name: Castilleja lemmonii

Family: Orobanchaceae

Notes: This paintbrush is often found along with Piersens Paintbrush.

 

 


 

 

43Morgan pass:jmw

Morgan Pass

The trail continues up towards Chickenfoot lake and eventually Morgan pass and Gem Lake which is one of the passes leading to  more of the John Muir Wilderness.

 

 


46DSC_0118TrailsignMono

Trail split to Mono Pass

TRAIL TO RUBY LAKE AND MONO PASS:

About .5 miles from the beginning of the Mesquite Trail head is the turn off to Ruby lake and Mono pass. The hike to Ruby is about 2 + miles from the trail split. The round trip hike to Mono Pass is about 8 miles.

 


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Trail to Mono Pass

The trail ascends up from the Little Lakes Valley towards Mono pass.  More sub-alpine plants dot the trail side preferring these dry granitic soils.

 

 

 


Common Dandelion dot the beginning parts of this trail, although it is not native, it does provide habitat for this Bee Fly. Also scattered along the trail is  Sierra Wallflower, which seems to prefer these open granitic soils.

47DSC_1412DandBeeFly

Bee Fly on Common Dandelion

Common Name: Bee Fly

Scientific Name: Bombyliidae

Order: Diptera

 


47DSC_1418SierraWallflower

Sierra Wallflower

Common Name: Sierra Wallflower

Scientific Name: Erysimum perenne

Family: Brassicaceae

Notes: This plant is often an early bloomer  in the rocky sandy soil along the trail.

 

 

 

 

 


48DSC_1423.KalimaJPG

Kalima

The trail climbs through seeps that have recently melted providing great habitat for more early blooming  Mt Heather (check out the exerted stamen and pistil) and  patches of Alpine Laurel, Kalima.

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Mt. Heather

48DSC_1421Kalima

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Kalima

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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Little Lakes Valley

As the trail climbs upwards towards Mono pass, great views of Little Lakes Valley can be seen (Mt Morgan) and the 13,000 feet peaks of the Sierra Crest (and Mack Lake)

 

Along the trail look for Mt.Snowberry and a few Wild Oats scattered along the way

51DSC_1435SnowBerry

Mt. Snowberry

 

Common Name: Mt. Snowberry

Scientific Name: Symphoricarpos rotundifolius

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Notes: Cassin’s finches relish the bitter whitish  berries that appear towards the end of the summer.

 


51DSC_1443MtWildOat

Mt. Wild Oats

Common Name: Mountain Wild Oats

Scientific Name: Danthonia intermedia

Family: Poaceae

Notes:  The short growing season of the higher elevation Little Lakes valley keeps out many of the non-native lower elevation species so most of the grasses you see are natives such as Mt Wild Oats.


Early in the season ( July 11, 2017 ) the trail may be a small creek and covered with snow!

 


This trail may not offer the diversity of flowers that the Little Lakes Valley trail does but it does give great views of the Box and Heart lakes.

53DSC_1448HeartBxLks@


The trail up to Ruby lake (July 2017) was still covered in snow and a rushing Ruby creek provided extra challenges to the hike

 


 Ruby Lake was still covered with ice and the surrounding shore line, not yet able to support many flowering plants except for a few Alpine Laurel (Kalima)

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Ruby Lake 7.17

 

 


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Ruby Creek

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Alpine Laurel

 


The trail continues to Mono Pass and another entrance into the John Muir Wilderness (the pass was closed due to snow in middle July 2017)

 


HILTON LAKES TRAILHEAD

The trail all the way to Hilton Lakes is about 10 miles round trip. The trailhead can be accessed about a 1/3 of a mile from Rock Creek lake.

57DSC_0358.HiltonLakeJPG

57DSC_0382View

View south lower lakes valley

 

The trail climbs quickly up to a forested bench offering a view across the southern rock creek area. The more  south facing slopes  of this trail support a variety of chaparral type vegetation which are more adapted to drier conditions.

 

 


Look for plants adapted to this drier environment  and granitic soil such as Silver Lupin, Squirrel tail grass, Curl-leaved Mt Mahagony, Sulfur Buckwheat and Scarlet gilia. These plants are characteristic by reduced leaves and shorter growing seasons

58DSC_0379

trail to Hilton Lakes

 


59DSC_0363.SilverLupinJPG

Silver Lupin

Common Name: Silver Lupin

Scientific Name: Lupinus argenteus 

Family: Fabaceae

Notes: Note the silvery leaves and dull blue flowers.

 


59DSC_0369Squirreltail

Squirreltail grass

Common Name: Squirrel Tail grass

Scientific Name: Elymus elymoides

Family: Poaceae

Notes: This grass is characterized by seed-containers that bear awnes 5-15 inches long

 

 

 


59DSC_0370CurlLvMtMahogony

Curl-leaved Mahagony

Common Name: Curl-leaved Mahagony

Scientific Name: Cercocarpus ledifolius 

Family: Rosaceae

Notes: This plant is characteristically an Eastern side of the Sierras plant. the small flower lacks petals but produces showy displays of its feathery fruit.

 


59DSC_0373SulfBuckwht

Sulfur Buckwheat

Common Name: Sulfur Buckwheat

Scientific Name: Eroigonum umbellatum

Family: Polygonaceae

Notes: The flowers of this plant turn from yellow to a burnt orange as the summer progresses.

 

 

 

 


59DSC_0374SulfruBuckwht

Scarlet Gilia

Common Name: Scarlet Gilia (Skyrocket)

Scientific Name: Ipopomsis aggregata

Family: Polemoniaceae

Notes: The red color of this plant’s flower attracts hummingbirds.

 


Growing amongst the Scarlet gilia and Silver Lupin is another

FEATRUED FLOWER: Pine Genetian

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Common Name: Pine Genetian

Scientific Name: Fraser’s puberlenta

Family: Gentianaceae

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Trail to Hilton lake

The trail leads up to a heavely forested area and skirts a creek and provides a moist habitat for moisture loving plants like Coulter’s Daisy, Alpine Lily, Arrow-leaved groundsel and Corn lily


61DSC_0392

Coulter’s Daisy

Common Name: Coulter’s Daisy

Scientific Name: Erigeron coulteri

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: Coulter’s daisy is characterized by its pure white color and intricate multi-rayed ray flowers.


61DSC_0398AlpineLily

Alpine Lily

Common Name: Alpine Lily

Scientific Name: Lilium parvum 

Family: Liliaceae

 


61DSC_0402ArowLvedGroudsel

Arrow-leaved groundsel

Common Name: Arrow-leaved groundsel

Scientific Name: Senecio triangularis

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: This groundsel is often found along side stream beds and is characterized by it s large triangular leaves. It is also known as Butterweed.

 

 

 


Common Name: Corn Lily

Scientific Name: Veratum californicum

Family: Melanthiaceae

Notes: This plant is also known as False Hellebore. The leaves actually form the stalk.


Continuing along the creek trail look for other shade/moister dependent plants such as Sidebells and a patch of basidio fungus

63DSC_0423sidebells

Sidebells

Common Name: Sidebells

Scientific Name: Orthilia seconda

Family: Ericaceae

Notes: This plant is related to the wintergreens and is also known as one-sided wintergreen because the flower cluster only grows on one side.


63DSC_0430Trail

After about a mile + the trail intersects at a  junction to Hilton Lakes or back to Rock creek. (On this hike we looped back to Rock Creek)

63DSC_0435.trailadownJPG

The climb back down gives good views across the lower valley. The trail decends through habitat that has a southern exposure and is made up mostly of dry granitic type soils.

 


Look for other examples of the oldest trees on the Eastern Side, Sierra Juniper.

Common Name: Sierra Juniper

Scientific Name: Juniperus occidentalis

Family: Cupressaceae

Notes: Sierra Juniper are some of the oldest plants in the Sierras with many trees over 1,000 years old.


In the habitat around the Sierra Juniper also look for  Hoary Aster and Stephanomeria


63DSC_0440.HoaryAsterJPG

Hoary Aster

Common Name: Hoary Aster

Scientific Name: Dieteria canescens

Family: Asteraceae

Notes: This aster is often found around Great Basin Sagebrush and Sulfur buckwheat. It is different than other daisy like flowers because each flower is surrounded by rows of pointed green bracts and it has pointed lobed leaves


63DSC_0454StephanomeriaJPG

Stephanomeria

Common Name: Stephanomeria

Scientific Name: Stephanomeria tenuifolia

Family: Asteraceae

 

 

 

 


FEATURED FLOWER: Further down the trail, keep your eyes out for Inyo Beardstongue

64DSC_0456.InyoBeardstougueJPG

Inyo Beardstongue

Common Name: Inyo Beardstongue

Scientific Name: Penstemon papillatus

Family: Plantanginaceae

Notes: This penstemon is found on this eastern side of the sierras in this open granite lodge-pole pine habitat.

The trail continues back to Rock Creek Resort and lake.


All photographs were taken by Lynn Hori. Plant information was gathered from: Plants of the Tahoe Basin by Michael Graft, Rock Creek Wildflowers by Cathy Rose,  the Jepson Manual 2012. Trail information was gathered from Trails of the Rock Creek Canyon area published by Rock Creek Lakes resort.

 

 

 


BAYVIEW TRAIL to AZURE & DICK’S LAKE

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Granite Lake

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Azure Lake

Trail description: The trail to Granite, Azure and Dick’s Lakes begins at Bayview Trail head which is one of the starting points for hikes into the Desolation Wilderness. This trailhead will also continue on to Upper, Middle and Lower Velma lakes as well as many other spectacular cirque lakes and alpine granitic landscape along this trail head. This trailhead is very popular  with backpackers hiking into some of the most picturesque areas in the Sierras. The hike to Granite Lake is about 1 mile from the trailhead while Azure Lake is a little under 4 miles from the trailhead and Dick’s Lake about 5 miles.

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Dick’s Lake


DIRECTIONS:

The Bay view trailhead is off Highway 89 just as the road loops around Emerald bay. From Tahoe city it is about 19 ½ miles and about 7 ½ from the junction of Highway 50 and 89. There is not much parking at this trailhead so make sure to start early!

 1DSC_0020MapDickslakeed

Donner Pass/Sugar Bowl to Squaw Valley

View top Donner crest

View top Donner crest

1DSC_0112.viewTinkersJPG

View Tinker’s Knob

DESCRIPTION:

The hike from Donner Pass/Sugar bowl to Squaw valley is a 15-16 mile trek across the crest of the Donner range and follows the Pacific Crest Trail with outstanding views of the North Folk of the American river canyon, Coldstream Valley and Cedar Creek Canyon. The PCT passes by Mt. Judah and Mt. Lincoln of the Sugar Bowl ski area and Anderson Peak and Tinker’s knob as it winds south. At about 8.4 miles the trail junction to the Granite Chief trial and heads east from the PCT. There is an option to break up the hike and backpack into the Benson Hut. (more info to follow.)


Sugar Bowl to Squaw map

Sugar Bowl to Squaw map

Map Mt. Judah loop

Map Mt. Judah loop

DIRECTIONS: From Interstate 80 take the Soda Springs/ Norden exit and travel to the old Donner pass Road (highway 40) to the Donner Pass-PCT parking area which is .2 miles down a paved road to a very small parking area. From Donner Lake take Highway 40 (old donner Pass road) up to the Sugar Bowl /Mt Judah area and follow the sign to the trailhead. The trail ends at the parking lot at the Olympic Village Inn/Squaw Academy. By dropping a car at the trail end one can shuttle back to the trailhead beginning at Sugarbowl/Donnerpass parking lot.
Squaw Valley/Granite chief trailhead

Squaw Valley/Granite chief trailhead


Upper Montane

Upper Montane

UPPER MONTANE ZONE: The first part of the hike ascends through the Upper Montane zone which is typically found in the Tahoe area from lake level, 6230 ft. to 8,000 ft. The average summer temperature is between 73°-85°F and the winter between 16°-26°F . This zone usually receives between 35-65 inches of snow and provides well drained soil for a variety of flora.

 

 


UPDATE 8.16

August is still a great time to head out on the Pacific Crest Trail along Donner crest whether it be all way to Squaw Valley or an “out and back’ to Sierra Club’s Benson’s Hut ( 10 + miles round trip) or to Tinker’s knob (12+ miles round trip).

This is a great time to enjoy the buckwheats especially Lobb’s Buckwheat, Eriogonum lobii and Alpine Knotweed, Aconogonon phytoalacifolium and Brewer’s Aster, Eucephalus breweri.

DSC_0028BrewersAster

Brewer’s Aster

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Alpine Knotweed


Lobb’s Buckwheat can often be found in outcroppings of granitic soil beginning about mid to even higher elevations. The whitish-yellow flowers change to deeper reddish colors the summer progresses. Why the change in color?

One hypothesis is that the reddish color may act to help cool the plant down so that more of its energy can be directed towards seed production.

DSC_0052Lobb'sbuckwheat

Lobb’s Buckwheat

 

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Lobb’s Buckwheat flowers

Mt. Rose

        
Top of Mt. Rose

Top of Mt. Rose 10, 776 feet

TRAIL DESCRIPTION: Mt. Rose is one of my favorite hikes in the Tahoe basin because it offers a “peak” hike that has a well maintained trail all the way to the summit of the 3rd highest mountain in Tahoe at 10, 776 feet You are rewarded with great views of the Cascade volcanoes to the north and the Lake with its surrounding peaks such as Freel and Mt. Tallac to the South/West. The round trip total milage is a little under 10 miles so it makes this hike very doable in one day. The first 2.5 miles of the trail pass through the Galena Creek drainage and offers a great variety of wild flowers and other wildlife siteings through most of July and August.

UPDATE: JULY 2019

Now is a great time to hike the Mt. Rose trailhead to Galena falls and to the top of Mt. Rose. The epic winter snows have resulted in a later snow melt and a delayed flower season. Many of the early blooming flowers are just now appearing. There are still patches of the trail past the water fall that are like mini creeks resulting in epic flower gardens!

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Galena Falls 7.31.19


This is a great hike to do with dogs since there is Galena falls and several creek crossings along the way.

DSC_0239Stanfalls

 

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trail past falls


 

 

Check out the Large leaved lupin, Lupinus polyphyllus, Cow Parsnip, Herulum maximumand an abundance of  Elderberry, Sambucus racemose.

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7.31.19


Map to Mt. Rose

Map to Mt. Rose

DIRECTIONS: From Lake Tahoe take the Highway 28/431 junction .Keep following 431 pass Tahoe meadows until it reaches the summit of Mt. Rose summit at 8911 feet. Look for the Forest service parking lot and TRTA signs left of the summit. From Reno take highway 395/431 junction and follow this windy road to the summit of Mr. Rose

 


Mt. Rose Trailhead sign

Mt. Rose Trailhead sign

Mt. Rose trailhead  bathroom facilities are temporarily closed. Several informational signs explaining the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and description of the hike and natural history. The Trailhead sign indicates 2 routes to the Mt .Rose summit. The TRTA hikers only trail heads to the right and does not allow bikes. The Relay connecter trail heads to the left and it will eventually have a sign indicating the way to the Relay peak as well as the summit of Mt. Rose. This trail can be used by bikers as well as hikers.

 

 


Topo Map to Relay Peak

Topo Map to Relay Peak

The Relay Peak alternate trail to Frog Pond, Galena Falls and the summit of Mt. Rose will be included later in this blog.

 

 

 


Upper Montane

Upper Montane

 

UPPER MONTANE ZONE: The first 2.5 miles of the hike to the summit of Mt. Rose climbs through the Upper Montane zone which is typically found in the Tahoe area from lake level, 6230 ft, to 8,000 ft. The average summer temperature is between 73°-85°F and the winter between 16°-26°F . This zone usually receives between 35-65 inches of snow and provides well drained soil for a variety of flora.

 

 


Trail rock gardens

Trail rock gardens to relay peak

 The PLANTS and fauna  that are listed below may be seen as you walk along the trail to Galena Falls and on to Mt. Rose summit (The flora and fuana listed below were seen during several seasons from 2009 to 2019!)

GRASS, ROCK & JAMISON lakes

 

Plumas-Eureka State Park

Plumas-Eureka State Park

DESCRIPTION: The Plumas-Eureka/Lake Basin area is only about an  hour north of Truckee along highway 89. This area offers hikes to many small lakes all within a 10 + radius with excellent views, great fishing, camping, hiking as well as an opportunities to hike to the top of Mt. Washington and Mt. Elwall.

The series of hikes to Grass, Rock, Jamison, Wade and Smith lakes are best accessed by starting at Plumas Eureka State Park which offers excellent camping in addition to access to the trailhead to these series of lakes mentioned above.. (Reserve your Plumas Eureka campground early….# 18 and #19 even have a stream flowing through them!).


Grass Lake

Grass Lake

2.DSC_0302JamisonLake

Jamison Lake

GRASS LAKE & JAMISON’S LAKES are 2 of the lakes accessible from Plumas Eureka State Park.
Campsite number19

Campsite number19

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Campsite number 18

 CAMPGROUD NUMBERS 18 & 19 are located next to Jamison creek.

Plumas National Forest trail sign

Plumas National Forest trail sign

DIRECTIONS: From Truckee head north on highway 89 towards Sierraville and Grayeagle. Outside of Grayeagle, turn left (west) on County Road 506 and follow the signs to Plumas Eureka State Park. The trailhead can be accessed from upper Jamison Campground within Plumas Eureka State Park or look for a dirt road 4.6 miles from highway 89 marked Jamison Mine, Grass lake trail

Johnsville/Plumas-Eureka State park

Johnsville/Plumas-Eureka State park

June 2020 update

The trails in the Plumas-Eureka Lakes basin have begun to melt out earlier this year so this is a great time to get out and hike some of the trails and look for early flowers! Besides the Grass, Rock and Jamison lakes areas this is a good time to visit the Sardine Lakes area and take the trail from Lower Sardine Lake to the Upper Sardine’s lake overlook. If you have time, the trail continues pass the Sardine lakes views and heads up towards the Sierra Buttes fire outlook.

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View Upper Sardine Lake with Sierra Buttes in background


Look for an occasional  Spotted Coral Root in the for canopy around Sardine lake.
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spotted Coral root

 

 

 

 


Lakes Trail sign

Lakes Trail sign

The trail to Grass lake is a gradual uphill climb for about 1 ¼ miles with Rock and Jamison about another mile pass Grass Lake. At the Smith Trail junctions there is also opportunity to hike another 2 and half miles to Smith Lake.

Castle Peak

 

Castle Peak

Castle Peak

 

DESCRIPTION: The hike to the top of Castle peak follows part of the PCT along Castle Creek and through White and Red fir forest until you reach Castle Pass. Views of Donner lake and glimpse of some of the peaks in Desolation valley are to your south while views to east give you views of Warren and Paradise lakes.  A steep zigzagging ascent heads up the Carson pass saddle through flowered filled rock gardens to the volcanic formations looking like “Castles” at the summit. Great views from this 9,103 foot peak give you great 360° views of Tahoe basin and beyond. Round-trip from the Castle Valley road trailhead is about 8 miles and the elevation gain about 1980 feet!

 

View top of Castle Peak

View top of Castle Peak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WINTER SNOWSHOE HIKING AND CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: The trail to Castle pass and over to Peter Grubb hut are great for Snowshoe hiking and back country cross-country skiing.


Castle Peak Trail Directions

Castle Peak Trail Directions

DIRECTIONS:

To get to the Castle Peak trailhead, head to Donner Summit. When you reach Boreal Ski Area take the Castle Peak/Boreal ridge exit and drive to the Pacific Crest Trail head. This option directs you North on the PCT under large culverts that go under Interstate 80. Follow the sign to Castle Pass. This route makes the hike to the top and back about 9.6 miles round trip.

An alternate route is to take the north exit to Castle Valley road and park at the trail head or head up the Castle Valley dirt road and at about the ¼ mile park in the Castle Valley meadow. This route cuts off about 1¼ miles from the round trip to the top.

 

 

 

 

Canyon Valley Meadow trail head

Castle Valley Meadow trail head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


UPPER MONTANE LIFE ZONE

The hike to Castle Peak climbs through the Upper Montane zone which is typically found in the Tahoe area from lake level, 6230 ft, to 8,00ft. The trail first follows Castle creek where beautiful displays of riparian plants flowering earlier in the summer can be seen. The trail then ascends through a forest of White Firs, Western White pines and Red Firs as it climbs up to the Carson Pass saddle. The trail then ascends up along the Castle pass saddle through sub-alpine open granitic & volcanic areas dotted with plants that can tolerate drier and more exposed environments. A few knarled Lodgepole pines can tolerate these environmental conditions along with a variety of Buckwheats flowers.

 

BIG MEADOW to DARDANELLES LAKE

 

 

Dardanelles Lake

Dardanelles Lake

DESCRIPTION: The hike to Dardanelles Lake is about an 8 mile round trip hike starting at the TRTA Big Meadow trail head. The trail   first passes uphill through a mixed fir forest opening up to Big Meadow after about 1/2 mile. The trial continues up along Big Meadow creek crossing several streams lined with beautiful wildflowers. The trail ends at a scenic lake surrounded by Granite cliffs which provide a great place to swim and hang out. This is a great hike for dogs…lots of creeks and a lake!

 

 

 


Map to Dardanelles Lake

Map to Dardanelles Lake

DIRECTIONS:  Take highway 89 towards Myers and follow highway 89 up to the TRTA parking lot at the Big Meadow Trailhead. The trail head is about 5 miles from the Highway 50 junction at Meyers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WARD CANYON to PAIGE MEADOWS

 

Trail head to Ward Creek

Trail head to Ward Canyon

 

TRTrail sign

TRTrail sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRTrail to Paige Meadows

TRT trail to Paige Meadows

 

 


 

 

DIRECTIONS: From Tahoe City take highway 89 approximately 2 miles to Pineland drive and turn right. After about .4 miles veer left on to Twin Peaks Road. Continue on and look out for the Tahoe Rim Trail info sign to Ward Canyon on the west side of the road  AND ACROSS FROM THAT SIGN IS A SMALL TRTA SIGN TO PAIGE MEADOWS. The trail can also be accessed from a metal gate 20 yards down the road on Forest service road 15N60. 

Another alternate route to reach the meadows is to take Silver tip road up to a dead end dirt road which will connect to a small not well marked trail to 1st and 2nd meadow.

 

TRAILHEAD

Trailhead Gate at Forest Road 15N60

 

Paige Meadows trailhead

Paige Meadows trailhead


 

 

 

 

 


June 20 update:

The large 6th meadow still has quite a lot of water and the areas around the board walk are moist. There is still quite a display of Camus lilies, Bistort and Sierra Lewisia along the board walk.

 

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6th Meadow July 2019

Look for Sierra lewisia and Water plantain buttercup in the moist areas along the boardwalk in 6th meadow.

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Water Plantain Buttercup

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Sierra Lewisia

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camus L

 


 

DSC_0840Portorella

Porterella

Later this July as you walk along the board walk from the Big meadow towards the other meadows notice the small but colorful Porterella  flowers growing between trail bric

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Tahoe-Yosemite Trail: Genevieve and Crag Lakes

MEEKS BAY TRAILHEAD

MEEKS BAY TRAILHEAD

TRAIL DESCRIPTION: Hikers can access the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail (TYT) from the Meeks Bay Trail Head by following Meeks Creek upstream into Desolation Wilderness to Phipps Pass. At about 4.6 miles Genevieve Lake, the first of 7 lakes can be found. Continuing on for another ½ mile hikers are treated to Crag Lake backdropped by the Granitic slopes of Crag Peak standing about 9054 feet. Continuing along the trail hikers will find Hidden Lake, Shadow Lake, Cliff Lake, Stony Ridge Lake and at 8 miles out is Rubicon Lake the 7th and probably the prettiest of all the 7 Tallant Lakes. Round trip to all lakes is about 16 miles.

WINTER SNOWSHOE HIKING: The first part of this trail is great for Cross country skiing and Snowshoe hiking.

 


LAKE GENEVIEVE

LAKE GENEVIEVE

CRAG LAKE

CRAG LAKE

 


2020 update:

 

Stoney ridge Lake-

This is a great time to visit Stoney Ridge Lake which is about another 1 + miles from Crag Lake. Follow along the East shore of Crag lake through thick forest until you see Hidden and Shadow lakes. Continue up the trail until you reach the North Shore of Stoney Ridge Lake, the largest of the Tallant lakes. There are a number of great campsites on the east shore and the lake makes for excellent swimming!

Suggestion:

Bring bikes and ride the first part of the trail from the parking area (1.2m) to the actual trailhead. This will allow more time to make the hike to Stoney ridge lake.

 


Look for: One flowered Wintergreen and Sidebells along the forest floor as you near Stoney ridge lake

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One flowered Wintergreen

 

 

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Sidebells

 

 

 

 

 


MAP to Tallant Lakes

MAP to Tallant Lakes

DIRECTIONS: From Tahoe City, take Highway 89 south towards Emerald Bay for about 11 miles. Park on the west side of the road opposite Meeks Bay Campground.  From South Shore’s intersection of Highway 50/89 travel north for about 16.5 miles.


DAY USE PERMITS

DAY USE PERMITS

The Tallant Lakes lie WITHIN DESOLATION WILDERNESS AND REQUIRE A PERMIT BOTH FOR DAY HIKERS AND CAMPERS. DAYHIKERS MAY SELF-REGISTER AT THE TRAILHEAD. |