With little water, Lake Tahoe wildflowers are off to an early start | TahoeDailyTribune.com

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With little water, Lake Tahoe wildflowers are off to an early start

A Tahoe Rim Trail hiker takes a water break while observing one of the many smaller lakes that surround Lake Tahoe.

The peak of the Lake Tahoe wildflower season is typically somewhere around the middle of July, but, with remaining snow melting away and water in scarce supply, area blooms are off to an early start and may not last long.

"We think they're going to flower early and fizzle fast," said Lisa Herron, spokeswoman with the U.S. Forest Service's Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

"We see all those plants popping up and they're ahead," she added. "They're about a month ahead."

The Forest Service has already received reports of white and purple phlox flowers sprouting in Desolation Wilderness, just west of Lake Tahoe.

Crocus, mule's ear, cat's paw and groundsel are also among the early risers in this year's early wildflower season, Herron said.

"It's definitely starting early," according to the spokeswoman.

Hope Valley, just south of Lake Tahoe, is one hot spot for those looking for a colorful hike. Winnemucca Lake, off Carson Pass, is another great area to spy some wildflowers, but, given its elevation, is still likely covered with snow, Herron said, urging people to be prepared for variable spring weather.

"We're still reminding people, even though it feels like summer, to dress accordingly," she said.

Layered clothing, as well as a map and compass to navigate snowy patches are recommended for day hikers.

"One days it's summer, the next day we're back to winter. It's pretty incredible," Herron said.

Here are a few more spots at Lake Tahoe to check out the blooms before they're gone:

Baldwin Meadow

Baldwin meadow is easy to access from Baldwin Beach at the South Shore and provides access to a variety of wildflower species, the abundance of which typically peaks in the middle of July, although this year the peak could be closer to the middle of June. From South Lake Tahoe, take State Route 89 north to Baldwin Beach. Follow Baldwin Beach road and take a left at the fork and park in the western parking lot by the beach. Walk away from the beach following the east side of an old barb wire fence to the meadow.

Frederick's Meadow

Lupine, mallow, corn lily and yampah are among the flowers one can see in this easy-access meadow. From South Lake Tahoe, take State Route 89 north. Just past Camp Richardson, turn left onto Fallen Leaf Lake Road. Drive past the campground. There is a small trailhead just past the campground. The trail wanders through the meadow and then reaches the lake.

Meek's Bay Trail

The meadow is easy to access and starts across from Meeks Bay Resort. Mallow, iris, meadow aster, buckwheat, wandering daisy, yarrow, yampah, phlox, scarlet gilia, monkshood, flax and lupine can be found here. From South Lake Tahoe, take State Route 89 north to Meeks Bay Resort. The trailhead is on the left side of the road after crossing the creek, by an old cabin. Walk past the gate onto the road. The meadows, as well as the wildflowers, start shortly after walking on the road.

Tahoe Rim Trail

Numerous creeks, lakes, ridges and meadows can be accessed via the rim trail. This variety provides an abundance of wildflowers. There are 10 trailheads that access eight trail segments, which form a continuous loop above the lake. Trail conditions, trail maps and directions can be found at http://www.tahoerimtrail.org.

Taylor Creek Visitor Center

The Taylor Creek Visitor Center at the South Shore is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend. Several trails begin at the visitor center and meander through forest, marsh, streamside and beach habitats. The Taylor Creek Visitor Center is located on located three miles north of South Lake Tahoe on the lake side of State Route 89.

Source: U.S. Forest Service