No matter how pretty, wildflowers cannot truly be appreciated from the seat of a moving car.
You have to get out and walk among them. Let your eyes soak up the vibrant colors. Breathe in the aroma. Watch tiny petals bob and weave in the gentle breeze.
The Pa'san Ridge Trail, located in the San Joaquin River Gorge Management Area outside Auberry, is a great place for total wildflower immersion. Go now, while the colors are at their peak.
The 7.5-mile loop takes hikers past more than a dozen species of wildflowers, including popcorn flower, fiddlenecks, goldfields, baby blue eyes, shooting stars, lupine and owl's clover. A different display awaits around every bend.
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Less than a mile from the car, the trail crosses the San Joaquin River on a sturdy footbridge. It's a great spot to peer into the rocky gorge or watch turkey vultures ride thermals in the sky above.
The loop begins just past the bridge and can be walked in either direction, both of which involve some climbing. Either way, it's a kaleidoscope of color.
Pa'san Ridge Trail
Location: San Joaquin River Gorge Management Area
Length: 7.5-mile loop
Trailhead: From Auberry, drive 2 miles north on Powerhouse Road and turn left on Smalley Road, which drops steeply into the river gorge. Veer left at the fork and park at the Trailhead Campground.
Maps: A PDF can be found at www.blm.gov/ca/bakersfield/sanjoaquinrivergorgemap.html
User groups: Hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders