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Hiking to Hite Cove

Hite Cove is famous for the spring poppy display but this year is a little different. I hadn’t heard any good reports on the wildflowers in Hite Cove area and was very curious how our winter’s crazy weather was affecting them. We had a couple of surprises. One was the trail condition and the other was the diversity of types and colors of the wildflower display.

Where: Sierra National Forest
Distance: 7.68 Miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation Range: 1,401′ – 1,695′
Date: March 23, 2016
Maps: Sierra National Forest, Buckingham Mountain Topographic Quad

We headed up Hwy 140 toward Yosemite. Savage’s Trading Post is on the right after you cross the South Fork Bridge and we parked across the road (on the river side) where there were also a couple of portable toilets. We walked across the road from where we parked and the trail began with a short climb through private property, staying on private property for 3/4 of a mile. There were good trailhead signs on this hike, but that is not always the case. We carried plenty of drinking water and kept an eye out for rattlesnakes.

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Poppy flowers close up during the night and as we started our hike, we started seeing wildflowers right from the start, coated with morning dew. The poppies weren’t still not open yet but were still very beautiful. The best redbud displays were toward the beginning and they had pretty much leafed out farther up, losing their flowers. That lupine were looking lush with their deep color.

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California Redbud

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The poison oak had leafed out earlier this year and was very robust, lining the trail and even encroaching on the trail in many places.


Poison Oak

We came across the first of several large down trees on the trail but were able to crawl over it.


Those beautiful poppies lined the trail.


We came across a mess of down trees across the small creek.


We reached the remains of the old stamp mill that was at Hite Cove, (also formerly known as Hite’s Cove, and Hite). Placer mining began in the area shortly after the beginning of the gold rush, and the Hite gold mine was discovered in 1862 by John R. Hite. He operated the property for 17 years and became quite rich. The mine was active again during the early 1900s and there has been some prospecting in the area in recent years. The Hites Cove post office operated from 1868 to 1869, and from 1878 to 1889. The Hite post office operated from 1901 to 1902.


We continued on and another pretty big old Digger Pine had fallen across the trail.


The old town of Hite had the prettiest poppies. They were a bit larger and were just starting to open up in the sunshine.

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We headed back the way we came and found a nice spot for our lunch along the river. When we started back, we noticed many more different types of flowers that we hadn’t spotted on the way in.

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Blue dick

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Chinese houses

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Baby blue eyes

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Baby blue eyes

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Mountain violet

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Photo by Gail Gilbert

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Waterfall lillies (Photo by Gail Gilbert)

We headed back along the trail.


We came across masses of flower color combinations, each one different.


I just love watching the bugs on the flowers. There were a few butterflies out but they were way too fast for me to catch them in the act.

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As we headed back down the trail and encountered the same down trees, we utilized different techniques. Over or under, that is the question. . . (Photos of me by Gail Gilbert)








In past years, the best poppy displays are usually within the first mile or so. The poppies were quite small during this stretch and larger up near Hite. Blue Dick was really putting on the show with large flowers and the lupine was gorgeous. Those down trees could be a real challenge for some to get around and it just may be a point where you may need to turn around. If you would like to learn more about the Hite Mine, you can read some of my previous blogs on this area.

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Prior Blogs in the Area:

Hiking From Indian Flat to the Old Hite Mine January 17, 2016

Hite Cove Wildflower Hike March 22, 2015

Hiking With The Sierra Newt To View Wildflowers At Hite Cove March 22, 2014

Hite Cove Wildflower Hike- Part 2 March 21, 2013

Hite Cove Wildflower Hike- Part 1 March 18, 2013

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