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Easy hike, approximately 2.5 miles. 

It’s been a warmer than usual summer in the Lost Sierra so I decided to take my hike before work this morning while it was cool. With just 2 hours available, my friend Patty and I chose one of the many Long Lake loops from the Lakes Basin trailhead, which is about 20 minutes from Nakoma.

Our route was: Bear Lakes Loop, starting toward Long Lake. Take the right fork toward Long Lake, then the next right fork to the connector trail to the dam, across the dam and down to the Lakes Basin campground, through the campground, back to the trailhead.

Almost immediately we began to encounter wildflowers galore! Prime time for wildflowers is typically mid- to late-June but the entire area was still buried in snow at that time. I’d been afraid that the snow would negatively affect this year’s bloom, but it was the exact opposite. Apparently all the late moisture had a positive effect because we were dazzled by bright spots of color from the beginning to the end of the hike.

At the beginning, it was Tiger Lilies, Indian Paintbrush and Columbines in the shade along the creek. As we rose in elevation and got into more sunshine, we saw what I think is Bitter Dogbane, Mountain Spirea, Fireweed, Corn Lily, more Tiger Lilies and something in the Daisy family.

As we descended, I was feeling completely satisfied by the hike and the diversity of flowers we’d seen, but there was yet another bountiful surprise awaiting us.

When we made the cut from the campground onto the little dirt path that leads back to the trailhead road we encountered what can only be described as a magical wildflower wonderland. Lilies, Indian Paintbrush, Penstemon, Daisies, Fireweed, Checker Mallow, Columbine and so many more varieties lined the trail and extended back into the dense forest as far as we could see. It was truly an explosion of color that my photos cannot fully capture.

If you’re in the area in the next week or two and enjoy the beauty of wildflowers, be sure to add this hike to your list of “must sees.

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