Top of the Morning - Elsinore Peak - Riv Cnty w CNPS-OC

Are you going?

23 spots left


Ortega Falls

32806 Ortega Hwy · Lake Elsinore, CA

How to find us

Meet at 9AM at the Ortega Falls Parking / Viewpoint on Hwy 74 that runs between I-5 in San Juan Capistrano to the I-15 in Lake Elsinore. We will wait until attendees arrive no later than 9:15 to caravan up to S. Main Divide Road (near Cariso Camp)

Location image of event venue


PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Beginner to Novice, Professionals always welcome!
ACCESS: Open to all, no charge
VEHICLES REQUIRE a USFS Adventure Pass [$30 Annual pass or $5 day pass]

This trip will be set in the backyard of Orange County and San Diego County atop the ridge of the Santa Ana Mtns on the far western edge of Riverside County. We're doing another joint trip with Ron Vanderhoff of Orange County CNPS, a great botanist who will help the group identify some of the extremely rare species we're hoping to find.

There are locations on the mountain where good years produce Munz Onion (Allium munzii), Hammitt's claycress (Sibaropsis hammittii), and Paniculate tarplant (Deinandra paniculata). While we likely won't find all of those very rare species, there is very likely going to be a great bloom of Chocolate lilies (Fritillaria bicolor), Goldfields (Lasthenia sps), Clarkia sps), Onions (Allium sps), Monkeyflowers (Diplacus [prev. Mimulus] sps), Lupines (Lupinus sps), Peony (Paeonia californica), Sanicle (Sanicula sps), and much more!

Elsinore Peak is the southern most of the Santa Ana Mountain peaks and offers an unusual habitat of grasslands with some coastal sage scrub and coastal chaparral. The area near the peak stands out for botanists due to its inland & coastal influence and unusual foundation of basalt rock like the nearby Santa Rosa Plateau. The specific stops for our visit will depend upon current conditions and the season’s always unpredictable bloom. We may explore the area just below the peak for spring wildflowers then visit the site along S. Main Divide Road of the 2013 “Falls” fire. Depending upon the group, there's a lot of diversions and trails in this area so let us know what you are most interested in!

We may also get to see some of the many fire followers that take over the mountain in the years after a burn. Ron describes thousands of Fire poppies (Papaver californicum), rare Spineflowers (Chorizanthe sps), Larkspurs (Delphinium parishii), Penstemon sps, Wild cabbage (Caulanthus sps), Whispering bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora), and others.

Pack a lunch and suitable gear and clothing to handle either cold or heat. The temps shouldn't get above mid 80's, but there is the possibility of rain. Keep a cautious eye out for rattlesnakes, and know that the most dangerous thing we'll encounter will likely be slips / falls and ORVs. Come prepared with plenty of water.

The compacted earth road on the ridge area is fine for all vehicles, though rains may cause rutting so high clearance is recommended if possible.

I will provide my truck (black Toyota Tundra) with three seats from Fashion Valley Mall Transit Center parking area nearest Fashion Valley Rd (west end of the mall) from 7:20 to 7:30 AM. Be prepared to drive if space fills up. Parking at the Transit Center parking lot is free for 24 hrs and is occasionally patrolled by security. That being said, the same risks apply there as to regular street parking. Donations for gas are welcome, but not required. The roundtrip is about 160 miles. Expect to return to Fashion Valley after 3:30PM.

Ron Vanderhoff will meet those closer to Orange County at Bravo Burgers, 31722 Rancho Viejo Rd., San Juan Capistrano (just off Hwy 74 near Int. 5) at 8AM. Mention the field trip and you're in!