California isn’t the only place people are visiting in droves to see wildflowers this spring. Parks and hiking trails around Phoenix are bursting with golden poppies and other blooms. Here’s where to see Arizona’s best poppies and spring wildflowers.
South Mountain Park
Try the easy Bajada Trail, which parallels San Juan Road at the base of the Gila range. It’s known for carpets of poppies and the small-blossomed bladderpod following wet winters.
Another option is climbing the north face of South Mountain ridge on the Ranger Trail, where the slopes are often streaked with an assortment of flowers.
Details: 10919 S. Central Ave., Phoenix. See website for other entrances and trailheads. Free. 602-262-7393, phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/south-mountain.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
More than 200 miles of trails fan out across Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Here are this year’s wildflower hot spots:
- Taliesin Overlook (Lost Dog Trailhead)
- Marcus Landslide Trail (Tom’s Thumb Trailhead)
- Cone Mountain Loop (Brown’s Ranch Trailhead)
- Granite Mountain loop (Granite Mountain Trailhead).
Details: See trailhead locations on the website. Free. 480-312-7013, mcdowellsonoran.org/visit-the-preserve/trailheads.
White Tank Mountain Regional Park
Some of the best displays of poppies can be found along the upper end of South Trail, near where it connects with Goat Camp Trail. You’ll find more flowers as you continue along Goat Camp for the next mile or so.
The Waddell Trail makes a nice ramble along the base of the mountains and is often lined by poppies, lupines, owl’s clover, blue dicks and desert chicory.
Details: 20304 W. White Tank Mountain Road, Waddell. $7 per vehicle. 623-935-2505, maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/white-tank-mountain-regional-park.
Estrella Mountain Regional Park
The first 2 miles of the Rainbow Valley Trail is where you’ll find some of the best sightings. Look for swaths of color along the Quail Trail and Toothaker Trail as well.
Details: 14805 W. Vineyard Ave., Goodyear. $7 per vehicle. 623-932-3811, maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/estrella-mountain-regional-park.
Cave Creek Regional Park
The 5.8-mile Go John Trail makes a lanky loop around several small ridges with expansive views. As it traverses the desert floor, the trail dips in and out of washes that were running over the winter. So keep an eye peeled for an extra profusion of blooms.
If you’re pressed for time, the shorter Overton Trail offers good seasonal color as well.
Details: 37900 E. Cave Creek Parkway, Cave Creek. $7 per vehicle. 623-465-0431, maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/cave-creek-regional-park.
These parks have the best displays of poppies, lupines, globe mallow and other springtime flowers. Jill Cassidy/azcentral.com
Usery Mountain Regional Park
Poppies, primrose, lupines, rock daisies, fairy dusters and the flame-orange tips of ocotillo added drama to mountains that already exhibit plenty on their own. Hike the slopes to Wind Cave and Pass Mountain to admire the best panoramas while wading through bands of flowers.
Details: 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa. $7 per vehicle. 480-984-0032, maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/usery-mountain-regional-park.
The heaviest concentration of poppies can be found on Pipeline Canyon Trail, especially from the southern trailhead to the floating bridge a half-mile away. The bridge is guarded by extremely robust globemallows the size of landscape shrubs. A nice assortment of blooms also lines the Beardsley, Wild Burro and Cottonwood trails.
Details: 41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Road, Morristown. $7 per vehicle. 928-501-1710, www.maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/lake-pleasant-regional-park.
Some of the best flower sightings are along the road to Rattlesnake Cove. The Palo Verde Trail parallels the shoreline, pinning hikers between flowers and the lake, a wonderful place to be on a warm day. Be sure to keep an eye peeled for white poppies — this is a good spot for them.
Details: Rattlesnake Cove is 21 miles east of Carefree. An $8 Tonto Day Pass is required. See the website for directions to the lake and a list of Tonto Pass vendors. 480-595-3300, fs.usda.gov/tonto.
Peridot Mesa is known for some of Arizona’s best poppy displays, stretched across a broad hill and sweeping down the slopes. The mesa is down a dirt road a short distance off U.S. 70, east of Globe on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.
Details: A $10 tribal day-use permit is required and you can get specific directions then. Contact the San Carlos Recreation & Wildlife Office for permits: 928-475-2343, sancarlosapache.com/Permits_Information.htm.
Picacho Peak State Park
Don’t think you have to climb the centerpiece spire for the best views of flowers. Most poppies and other blooms flourish on the lower slopes. Visitors will be able to enjoy plenty of color from the park road and adjacent picnic tables.
For a closer look, good showings of color can be found on the easy Nature Trail, Children’s Cave Trail and the moderate Calloway Trail.
Details: On Interstate 10 at Exit 219 about 70 miles south of Phoenix. $7 per vehicle. 520-466-3183, azstateparks.com/picacho.
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