Today my daughter and I made our annual pilgrimage to Table Mountain in Butte County to enjoy a hike and admire the wildflowers.
With almost no rain in January, February, or March, it is a meager year for flowers. The grass is drying up and the flowers are short and skimpy. They are all in a hurry to set seed before the season is over, and are not wasting time on lush growth or lavish bloom. We saw mostly sky lupine, popcorn flowers, and the little poppies called frying-pans.
The section of Table Mountain set aside for hiking is officially known as North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve. A Lands Pass from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is required to visit. I have never seen anyone checking for passes, but it only costs $4.89 for a day pass and the fee goes towards upkeep and improvements.
And we did see a number of improvements. The parking lot has been enlarged, restrooms and porta-potties have been installed, and a viewing platform with informational signs has been set up.
The viewing platform includes a three-dimensional map of the terrain, which is nice for locating where you are and where you are going. The boundaries of the reserve are outlined and the various falls are labeled.
In the past we have usually hiked to Beatson Falls, the way that most visitors take. But that, as it turns out, is actually on private land. It is not part of the reserve and signs will tell you so.
The signs direct the visitor to take a turn to the right and hike to Ravine Falls and Phantom Falls. Which we did.
Not everybody heeds the signs and stays within bounds. The fence at this point has been pushed down. I saw a couple of folks step over the fence and head for Beatson Falls. The cows didn’t seem to care.
We made it to Ravine Falls, which was still dripping water, although the creek itself was dry. I would have liked to continue another 0.6 mile to Phantom Falls, but I had another place to be this afternoon, so we turned around and headed back.
It was a nice morning out, but I am hoping for more rain next winter and better wildflowers next spring. Here’s a little bit of owl clover we saw.