My favorite part of this hike is seeing those harlequin lupine when they are blooming. We lucked out and there were many beautiful displays of yellow, purple and pink harlequins lining the trail in places and grouped together is other spots.
Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 13.36 Miles
Elevation Range: 4,028′ – 5,845′
Date: May 18, 2015
Maps: El Capitan Topog
We headed to Wawona, turning right on Chilnualna Falls Road, then drove about a ½ mile where we parked in the small turnout on the right hand side with a bear box. The trail begins on the opposite side of the road. 30% chance of rain was predicted so we made sure we had our rain gear with us on this day.
We hadn’t headed too far up the trail when we started coming across harlequin lupine. Did I mention that they just may be my favorite flower? Those bright yellow and pink colors make me smile. Each flower is different. Some have more yellow, some have more purple and some are a mixed up combination of pinks, purples and yellow.Its scientific name is Lupinus stiversii and it was named for Army physician Dr. Charles Austin Stivers, who first collected it in 1862 near Yosemite.
My hiking buddies and I all have our own unique style when we take pictures of these beautiful wildflowers.
We also saw a few other flowers along the way but we did not have as much of wildflower diversity as we have had in prior springs.
We reached a well-signed fork in the trail and headed to the right. The left hand fork is the trail that comes up from Hwy 41. We headed toward Alder Creek.
There were too many snow plants along the trail to count and most of them were in their prime. Neon red psychedelic asparagus is just one description of this unique plant. Check out this fantastic video from Nature’s Notes by Yosemite National Park. It is all about snow plants!
If you enjoyed that video, you will want to check out many more of these videos. Yosemite Nature Notes is a video podcast series that tells unique stories about the natural and human history of Yosemite National Park.
They are produced by the National Park Service and feature park rangers, scientists, historians and park visitors as they discuss the diverse plants and animals that make Yosemite their home, as well as the towering cliffs, giant waterfalls and mountain peaks that are known throughout the world.
We continued on up the trail (photo by Gail Gilbert), walking though areas where the dogwood blooms were still hanging in there.
There were several areas on the trail where down trees made our hike a little more challenging. We were able to get over or around them all but there is at least one area higher up with a large down tree across it where horses would not be able to get around until the trail is cleared.
We were surprised to find this giant mushroom just popping up along the trail. It was huge!
The trail met and continued up the old railroad bed that the Yosemite Lumber Company, renamed the Yosemite Sugar Pine Lumber Company in 1934, utilized. It was almost like we were walking back in time while we walked along this gentle grade. We could see remnants of the old railroad bed that included railroad ties and rails. Old chokers, metal cans, abandoned fenced areas, ditches and ponds told us a sketchy story of what activities occurred in this area in the past.
We made it to a spot where we could look down at Alder Creek Falls, its water dropping about 120 feet. It was very pretty.
We decided to head up the trail a little farther, crossing a small creek which has stopped us in wetter spring years.
It was time for us to turn around and head back down the trail but we had spotted some corn lilies that were just starting to work their way up through the soil.
The corn lily is one of the most poisonous plants in Yosemite and has caused violent illness to those who have eaten it. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but especially the roots. Corn lily is poisonous to animals as well, but as a rule they do not eat it because of its sharp, burning taste. The flowers are also poisonous to insects and heavy losses in honeybees sometimes occur. It is a beautiful plant to look at and take pictures of but not to consume.
We stopped for an early lunch along Alder Creek.
As we headed back down the trail, we felt a few raindrops but nothing worth pulling out our rain gear for.
We were almost to the bottom of the trail when we were greeted by these two deer. Well, we weren’t actually greeted by them but they continued munching while we walked by them.
I think spring is the best time to do this hike because the wildflowers can be so beautiful. Another reason to do this hike in spring and preferably not a hot day is because there is a stretch of trail toward the bottom that is out in the open and can be darn hot.
Prior Blogs on This Area: