Green hills and wildflowers: 7 local springtime hikes

Wildflower on Pincushion Peak (Benjamin Kirk)

It's that time of year again! The sky is blue with fluffy little clouds and the temperature is perfect for getting outside and enjoying the blooming wildflowers.

One of the best ways to get out and enjoy nature's color explosion is to go for a short hike. Here are several options in our local foothills listed on AllTrails.com.
If you take pictures on any of these hikes, be sure to share them with us on Instagram or Twitter using #abc30insider -- or @abc30 on Facebook.

Hite Cove Trail

2 - 9 miles - Moderate to Hard
This trail starts on private property along Highway 140 about 20 miles east of Mariposa. The length of this trail varies on different websites, however, the total round trip distance to Hite Cove and back is 9 miles. Most people walk out two or three miles to enjoy the wildflowers then turn around and walk back.

The roar of the South Fork Merced River is always in view as visitors walk along a hillside trail that explodes in color for several weeks during the spring.

Visitors say while the hike does not have a lot of elevation gain, the first 100 yards or so is probably the hardest, followed by rolling ups and downs.
Trail Map
More on www.yosemitehikes.com

Hensley Lake Day Use Areas Trail

2.7 Miles out and back - Easy
This family (and dog) friendly trail offers a lot of beauty for a fairly mild hike. The trail starts in the Hensley Lake Day Use Area and wanders along the lakeshore with views of the lake and colorful wildflowers in the spring.

While the main route is just under three miles out and back, there are plenty of other options and side trails to mix up your hike a bit.

Trail Map

Spikes Peak Loop Trail

Pacheco State Park - 7.2 miles loop - Moderate
The trailhead is located just west of San Luis Reservoir along Dinosaur Point Road. During the Spring, the trail offers views of green rolling hills, oak trees, and wildflowers!
Trail Map

View from the steeper shortcut trail to Pincushion Peak. The main trail can be seen on the right of the image.

Pincushion Mountain Peak

3.3 miles - Moderate
This short, but tough, the hike is very popular as it is a fairly short drive from North Fresno or Clovis. The trailhead starts at the South Finegold Picnic Area at the end of Sky Harbor Road. The trek starts on the larger San Joaquin River Trail, but splits off a little over a mile up the trail at the top of the lower 'pincushion.' While AllTrails list this hike as moderate, the hike to the peak is tough and may require a bit of light rock scrambling.

If you're looking to make your hike a little more challenging, a steeper 'shortcut' trail forks off of the main trail about three-quarters of a mile into the hike. That wider trail heads straight up the hill and meets up with the main trail at the top of the upper 'pincushion,' just below the peak.
Trail Map
TIP: If you park in the South Finegold Picnic Area, there is a $10 per day use fee. However, may hikers park alongside the road just outside the area and enter on foot.

Ya-Gub-Weh-Tuh trail at the San Joaquin River Gorge


Ya-Gub-Weh-Tuh Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge

2.2 miles - Easy
The walk down to the bridge crossing the river is fairly easy, but the trek back up can be challenging. The area is known for springtime wildflowers, a really cool footbridge, and an old powerhouse.
Trail Map

The San Joaquin Gorge horse and pedestrian bridge

Skyline Trail

Moderate - 6.5 miles
This amazing trail, which features a waterfall, is towards the end of Skyline Drive -- just past Three Rivers along Highway 198. The trail is popular so be ready to see many other hikers, bikers and even some horses along while you're out. While the trail is a loop, the first half is uphill to the waterfall and the second half takes you back down.
Trail Map

Painted Rock Trail

2.5 miles out and back - Easy
The Carrizo Plain National Monument east of Bakersfield is world famous for the spectacular wildflower show that happens every spring, especially during super bloom years. This short and easy hike is at the base of the coastal mountains and will take you right through the grassland.
Trail Map
More about the Carrizo Plain National Monument
Related Topics:
travelhikingnatureSierra - Foothills
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