Wildflower Season is Here

July 03, 2020

Summer is in full swing in the Lost Sierra and the wildflowers are making their bountiful appearance throughout Lakes Basin, right in Nakoma’s backyard. If you’re looking for a hike with a lot of color, here’s one of my favorites. The flowers are colorful all day, but in the cool mornings with the sun at a lower angle, they really pop brightly. Also, you’ll have the trail more to yourself if you go early.

Starting at the Lakes Basin Trailhead off Gold Lake Highway, head on the path toward Long Lake. You’ll see Penstemon along the way on the left poking out from the rocks, resplendent in their rich reddish-pink. You’ll also see Asters, which to me are such happy, unassuming flowers with their bright yellow centers and lavender petals. In the sunniest spots you’ll also find yellow Buttercups and white Daisies.

When you get to the first intersection, make the right turn toward the Long Lake Connector trail. I highly recommend the quick up and back to the shore of Long Lake, which is clearly marked at the next intersection.

After you’ve drunk in the beauty of Long Lake, make your way back to the connector trail and continue toward the damn. By now you’ve gained a little elevation and Indian Paintbrush will start making an appearance. Cross the damn and at this point you need to forage just a bit to find the trail back down to the Lakes Basin Campground. I don’t believe there’s a sign, but once you find it, the trail is quite obvious.

Now you’ll be into the purple Penstemons and fields on the left with a colorful mix of all the different wildflowers. Heading down into the shade, you’ll see Thimbleberry bushes with their delicate white flowers. (Make note of these spots and come back in the fall when the berries are ripe!)

Once past the falls and the bridge over the creek, start looking for Tiger Lilies and even some late season snow plants.

When you get to the bottom of the trail you’ll be in the Lakes Basin Campground. Go right at the end of the bridge (or take a dip in the lovely pool to the left). Walk through the campground until you see the trail sign for the Lakes Basin trailhead. This area is typically overrun with wildflowers of every kind. I saw the beginnings of Tiger Lillies, but I think I was a little early for the full color spectrum.

When you hit the road, go right and it’ll take you back to the trailhead. The hike is about 90 minutes (without stopping for photography) and has some elevation gain, but it’s not overly strenuous. Enjoy!