Ok first of all if you sang that headline to the jingle of “We’re off to see the Wizard” then 10 points to Gryffindor!
I don’t know about you but I always wanted to lay in a field of poppies just like Dorothy did, okay she was high from the poppies, but you get my point. there’s something about laying among fragrant flowers. I love the smell of flowers, it’s one of my favorite things to shove my face into a bouquet of wildflowers and just inhale. The sweet earthy smell takes me to a place where nothing else matters. So last weekend when I was driving to Mount Pinos I could see the pre-spring bloom on the hillside and that’s when I got the brilliant idea to go see the poppies. If you haven’t seen the blog about that trip check it out here https://wordpress.com/post/iwildwolves.wordpress.com/26 So I invited my family to go with me and started my research on a short day trip. Here are just a few bullet points of what I look for in my research.
What I usually focus on is:
- Location and directions- Because duh.
- Price of admission- Whether I’ll need to pay for parking or need a certain amount for entry. Also whether I need cash or can use plastic.
- Pet policy- Probably the most important information to research considering their presence is the entire concept. Some places only allow service animals and others allow pets. I also look to see if there is a leash policy, I carry mine regardless but still I find inspiration here and there to let them off leash.
- Site policy and rules- In the case of a state flower reservation there are strict guidelines to adhere to for the protection of the flowers and environment.
When it comes to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve the rules are as follows:
- Come dressed to hike- Antelope Valley is a desert so it is dry, with lots of sun and very little shade (none on the trails). Bring water. I would also bring a hat and/or sunglasses. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes too.
- DO NOT STRAY FROM THE TRAIL- Honestly, all caps is necessary. The California Poppy is a State Flower and damaging the flowers can result in a fine! Not to mention it’s rude to every and Mother Nature.
- Parking- Parking is free on the main street but is $10 in the lot.
- Don’t pluck the flowers- Refer to number 2.
- Only services dogs allowed– Refer to number 2.
To be honest, I originally wanted to go to Walker Canyon Poppy Field by Lake Elizabeth, its a more lush field where the flowers grow a little taller. Dogs are allowed on leash and there are no rules about sticking to the trails. Granted you shouldn’t damage the flowers or pluck them for sake of preserving nature. But I was good with optical illusion and just finding a thick spot of flowers would give me what I needed for pictures. Unfortunately, the family preferred to stay close to home and reviews of traffic were bad, so it was off to the desert again.
“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.” — Osho
My aunt decided to drive and we all gathered into her vehicle and drove north to the reserve. Traffic wasn’t bad at all, in no time we could see the reserve and we slowed as we got in line to find parking, we were at a consistent low speed and there was plenty of parking on the side of the road. The parking lot was full but that’s okay the walk up to the entrance wasn’t bad and we didn’t have to pay, and there is a big sign at the entrance where you can take a picture; otherwise, you would only get one from your car as you’re waiting in line for the lot. and chances are there were people standing in front of it to get a clear shot.
I put on Beowolf’s service vest and we started our walk, of course, I got a shot of Beowolf in front of the sign. There were portal potties waiting halfway up to the fields which were nice since I had to go already. Afterward, we made it to the entrance where a security guard stopped us, apparently they don’t allow service dogs into the reserve, which is false because it’s the law. To be honest, I don’t think this kid even knew the laws, he was likely high and got hired on seasonal for the spring bloom. So I cut him a break, I reassured him that Beowolf is a seizure alert dog and if I for whatever reason have a seizure he is to notify me so I can sit or make it to safety. I don’t get them all the time, but enough to wanna ensure my safety as well as others, it’s also genetic my sister gets them worse than me. The guy finally backed off when I reassure him my dog is trained and won’t “stray from the trail”, which when I turned around and head up the hill the first thing you see is people sitting in the middle of a bunch of flowers! He was harassing me when there were people behind him doing what he was already accusing my dog of doing!? (For the record Beowolf didn’t step foot off the trail and was gentle with flowers he sniffed.)
Nobody was policing the trampling and plucking of flowers, blatant disrespect of nature to be honest. Being a lover of nature preservation it broke my heart to see the defilement of precious flowers and not say anything, but oh I wanted to and my personality won’t allow me to talk under my breath so I let the comments slip here and there.
We walked along the trails, it was beautiful but there were lots of people, I think there were more people there than flowers. There were more weeds than anything, and the ground was very dry and barren. I couldn’t even really do optical illusion photography because there weren’t enough flowers.
For it to be a super bloom it was really a letdown, but overall it was a nice day. I was dying for water, I never got an opportunity to fill my water bottle and it was a hike at first leading up to the peak. I decided to go check out the information center and see if they sold water, or in the least had a water fountain.
The information center was smaaaall. But it was clean and very nicely put together, adorned with beautiful pictures and displays. He got our fill of water and I restocked my water bottle and did a little more walking, but there really wasn’t much reason to go down a lot of the trails. In most of the park, there were huge fields where there were NO flowers at all, I’m sure we’re still early in the season but I came today.
Bored, hot and tired we went and rested by the picnic area where my cousin Mia and I waited for my Aunt to rendezvous, as they went on the more extensive hike earlier. I’m definitely going to make another trip to the poppy fields, but next time I’m going to Walker Canyon Poppy fields. Traffic I can deal with if the environment I’m going to is nicer, all I want is flowers as far as the eye can see, not dry desert.
By the way, I don’t mean to offend anyone who is a desert lover, I can definitely see the beauty to the desert and all it’s living beings, botanical, mammalian and reptilian. Just I live in the desert mountains of Santa Clarita and I love lush GREEN!
I would rate this trip a 2.5/5.
Depending on the time of the season you can probably see more or fewer flowers, as of this time of year and post weeks of rain and a recent week of sun there was only 18% flowers on the fields. There were actually more patches of flowers off the side of the road, lush and thick where everyone was getting pictures in. Although if given the option, I should have had my aunt drop me off there so I can see the flowers and they can pick me up when they leave the reserve. Oh well, future lesson.
Roads: Pretty much paved the entire way up. Clean and free of rocks.
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Gear: Good old fashion tennis shoes, leggings, a camelback that I got from Amazon https://amzn.to/2Jqdl4F .
Beowolf didn’t need his boots for this one, but any later in the season, I would start carrying them on the trails. I’ll be in the market soon for new dog boots for both Valentine and Beowolf, I’ll do a blog about that and post it HERE for you to see. Subscribe to my page to be updated when I post that. I also had a hat and a knitted sweater.
Weather: Caliente! Ok no, it wasn’t, it was hot b the sun was beating down on you but it was a little windy which cooled you off.
Hope this helps you with questions you would have about going to Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. Subscribe to my page to see when I post about my next trip to the Walker Canyon Poppy Fields.