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Spring Into Action: Take a Walk on the Wildflower Side

March 31, 1994|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition. and

It's spring and time for wildflowers.

With a boost from the recent rainstorms, wildflowers are beginning to appear throughout the locals hills. If the warm weather holds through the weekend, blossoms will continue to open up, making for a strong display in the weeks ahead and through early May.

One of the best local spots to see a lot of flowers without a lot of walking is Santiago Oaks Regional Park in Orange. A Tuesday walk in the park revealed numerous species already starting to bloom: baby blue eyes, Johnny jump-ups, wild cucumber, purple nightshade, blue-eyed grass, fuchsia-flowered gooseberries and others.

A good walk for flower buffs starts at the visitors building in the park and switchbacks up the ridge above, along the Windes Nature Trail, a loop trip that can be combined with the Pacifica trail loop. Combined, the two trails take 35 or 40 minutes and are moderately strenuous. Besides the flowers, it offers some sweeping views of the surrounding foothills.

In addition to the the plants already in bloom, others expected to blossom soon include fiddlenecks, sticky monkey flowers, California peonies and California poppies.

Part of the park was burned in last season's Anaheim Hills brush fire, but in at least one sense that may be a boon to nature buffs. Some plant species grow and flower only after a fire, and some of those may be found in the park as the season progresses.

Rangers at the park are well-versed in wildflowers and print a running list of the blooms seen in the park. They also maintain a recorded wildflower hot line ( (714) 538-4429).

Several other county parks will offer flower-viewing opportunities in the weeks ahead. These include: Whiting Ranch Regional Park, Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park, Oak Canyon Nature Center, Ronald W. Caspers Regional Park, Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary and the Environmental Nature Center.

What: Wildflowers at Santiago Oaks Regional Park.

When: Daily, 7 a.m. to sunset.

Where: 2145 N. Windes Drive, Orange.

Whereabouts: Exit the Newport (55) Freeway at Katella Avenue and go east. Follow the road as it becomes Santiago Canyon Road, and turn left on Windes Drive. Park in the lot at the end of the road.

Wherewithal: $2.

Where to call: (714) 538-4400.

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