Orchids in Plumas County

More orchids in Plumas County! On the same trip where we found orchids near Quincy, we visited a few spots on the way up the Feather River Canyon. We found flowers in several places, but the most exciting was on a side trip on Caribou Road. Two kinds of orchids, Reed Lilies, Tiger Lilies and more!

California Lady's Slipper
California Lady’s Slipper

We never would have found this spot if it wasn’t for Joe Willis and his Black Oak Naturalist blog, and Spencer Dykstra of Spencer Dykstra Photography (which you should visit to see some wonderful photographs). Thanks, guys!

Note: Click on any photograph to see a larger image.

The Hike

This isn’t a hike, it is a nice drive. Many of the flowers shown here were found on the drive up the Feather River Canyon, along the roadside. There was an abundance of Bush Monkeyflower.

Once you turn on Caribou Road you can start looking for some small meadows along the roadway. At about 1.6 miles up the road there was a very wet meadow on the east side (away from the creek) where we found a large number of Reed Lilies and Tiger Lilies.

California Tiger Lily
California Tiger Lily

Further up there was another meadow where we found an abundance of Western Azalea. I’ve not seen them when they were this full of blooms before, and the fragrance was almost overwhelming.

Continuing on you’ll cross a wooden bridge, and shortly after that look for a cascade tumbling down the hillside on the west (left) side of the road. This should be at about 2.8 miles by my reckoning. You’ll see Western Azalea and quite a few Reed Lilies. This is well worth stopping – this is where you’ll find the orchids.

Orchids and Lilies

California Lady Slipper orchids are hard to find, but they are worth the effort. If you look closely at the picture to the right, the Reed Lilies are on the left, with a small clump of orchids showing just a bit of off-yellow right by the rocks. We found quite a few plants with many flowers on the hillside along the cascade, but you don’t always see them from the road.

We visited this spot twice, because the first time we didn’t find one of the flowers we were hoping for on the first try. When we came back we looked further up the road along the roadside ditch, and we found Stream Orchids. They can be hard to find, the flowers tend to blend in with the leaves and face down towards the ground. I’m glad we came back (and glad that I walked further up the road to find them).

Timing is Everything

We visited in early June and the weather was excellent. The first day was a bit overcast and windy in the afternoon, but the next day was clear and warm. The wildflower season in this area is quite long, so you always have a great opportunity to find something interesting. One of the best ways to keep up on what is going on is to check the Plumas County Wildflower Hotline blog.

Directions

From the Oroville area follow Highway 70 north, and then east as it climbs through the Feather River Canyon. This drive is worth taking just to see the river as the highway winds through the canyon. In May and early June there are many wildflowers to see right along the roadside.
 
About 42 miles from where 70 splits from Highway 149 to head up the mountains you will see a bridge going across the river to your right (South) to Belden. This is a nice place to stop for a meal and a bathroom break. About 1.5 miles after the Belden turnout you will find Caribou Road on the left. You’ll find many flowers in the first couple of miles of Caribou Road.

The Flowers

Please feel free to help me with the identification of any “unidentified” flowers listed here, as well as correcting any errors I may make. Click on any photograph to see a larger image. I’ll start with a few favorites, and then the “gallery”. All pictures were taken with a Nikon D50 with a Nikkor 18-135mm zoom lens, or a Nikkor 60mm closeup lens.

We found Bush Monkeyflower all along the Feather River Canyon, on the drive up.

Bush Monkeyflower
Bush Monkeyflower

On Caribou Road there are several narrow meadows, sometimes quite boggy, on the road opposite the stream. We found many more flowers there than we did on the stream side. This particular meadow was full of Reed Lilies (which the bees really like!) and Tiger Lilies.

Meadow by Caribou Road

Reed Lilies were abundant in many spots.

Reed Lily
Reed Lily

The Wester Azaleas were out in full force along these meadows.

Western Azalea
Western Azalea

The stars of the trip, though, were the orchids. The California Lady’s Slippers were only found at one spot, but there were a lot of them there!

California Lady's Slipper
California Lady’s Slipper

At that same spot, if you looked closely, you could also find the Stream Orchid.

Stream Orchid
Stream Orchid
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4 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing. While living in the Rochester, NY area I had photographed many terrestrial orchids and want to start doing the same now that I’ve moved to northern California. Your blog is well done and informative. Your links have been very useful.

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