As a proud member of the “Poppy-razzi” (definition: “one who enjoys chasing wildflowers, especially poppies, and potentially to obsessive levels…”), it’s exhilarating to find your first poppy of the new season. And how exciting it was to see them yesterday as we hiked in the San Tan Mountain Regional Park!
While I was wrapping up my artist-in-residency in Acadia National Park in Maine, my non-photographer parents had gone for a hike last week, and sent me a text message with photos of a brilliant golden blooms along the Dynamite Trail within the park. It seemed strange that this area would start blooming so early – typically starts in early March – but their iPhone snaps showed it would be worth a visit to see for myself right now.
Though we started our hike yesterday morning on the Moonlight Trail and San Tan Trails – where the ground was very green with splashes of tiny filaree, popcorn flower, fiddleneck, and other wildflower sprouts as well as grasses – it wasn’t until we walked about 10 minutes along the Dynamite Trail that we finally saw a handful of poppies scattered across the west-facing slopes. Because of the cold weather, their petals were still curled in tightly even at noon. The dirt and rocky trail also displayed a handful of just-budding lupine and fiddleneck.
With warming temperatures and plenty of sun in the forecast for the next two weeks, this area could start producing large quantities of wildflowers easily over the next month or so. Mark your calendar to catch two upcoming one-hour ranger led programs about wildflowers at the San Tan Mountain Regional Park on March 9 at 10 am and March 23 at 11 am ($6 entry fee per vehicle or pass required).
The Dynamite Trail is easily accessed by parking at the Goldmine Trailhead on the far north side of the park. Follow the Goldmine Trail a quick 0.2 miles (0.4 km), then turn right on the Dynamite Trail. After walking up the hill and around the first bend, keep your eyes peeled for wildflowers on either side of the trail.
You can also find more information about the San Tan Mountain Regional Park in our guidebook, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, and How” on page 108-109.
Paul’s also been out and about recently, where he’s seen lots of fiddleneck and wild onion just starting to bloom around the Superstitions. Brittle bush are showing early color roadside along the Apache Trail (pages 158-161). Saguaro Lake is starting to see some poppies, particularly in the aptly-named “The Rolls” area. Down south, the Sutherland Trail in Catalina State Park north of Tucson is a good bet for early blooms.
The snow fall down to 2000′ last week did not do any real damage and will help with the perennial wildflowers later in March. Here are a couple photos from Paul from the snow storm last week at the Lost Dutchman State Park.