Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh comes alive
For much of May, the Treasure Valley has been unusually rainy, making the Foothills lush with flora. Forecasts are calling for prime hiking weather as June begins, and you’ll find plenty of wildflowers along local trails.
As temperatures rise, plan to head to higher elevations to find the best blooms — but be aware that the fluctuating weather may have affected the plants.
“The strange hot spell we had in mid-May impacted the timing of the wildflowers,” said Martha Brabec, who works for Boise Parks and Recreation as a Foothills restoration specialist.
Still, there’s an abundance of flowers to find. Set out on your own with this list as a guide, or consider joining one of the Treasures of the Boise Front wildflower walks led by local botanist Barbara Ertter.
Boise-area wildflower hikes
Homestead Trail: You’ll climb 1,000 feet over two miles on this Southeast Boise-area hike into the Foothills. According to Brabec, lupine were in full bloom at the end of May. Expect to see the tall, multicolored flowers for a bit longer.
Oregon Trail Reserve: Ertter will lead a hike from Bonneville Point along the Oregon Trail on Tuesday, June 4. Rather than dazzling superblooms, Ertter said this hike is a chance to see a diversity of species — plus learn more about the history of the Oregon Trail in Idaho. Another bonus: Pronghorn antelope tend to hang out within view of this trail.
Bob’s Trail: This route in the Foothills north of Boise features blooms of Idaho’s state flower, the syringa. In addition to the small white flowers, look for bright pink checker-mallow and Nuttall’s cinquefoil, a yellow bloom that grows close to the ground.
Another good option nearby is Sweet Connie, where you’ll likely find similar flora.
Ertter’s wildflower walk series continues on the lower portion of Bob’s Trail on June 11.
Brabec said yarrow is flowering in Hulls Gulch, along with Wood’s rose.
“Wood’s rose is a native shrub found in riparian areas, and will likely be blooming where it is found, like along the Bethine Church nature trail, Hulls Gulch and many more locations along the river,” Brabec said in an email.
There are several varieties of the tall, multiflowered plants around the Treasure Valley, including bright-red firecracker penstemon, light pink Palmer’s penstemon (an invasive species) and purple royal penstemon.
Brabec also reported seeing the daisy-like blooms of shaggy fleabane in the reserve.
Camas Prairie: About 2 hours from Boise, the purple camas lily bloom is flowering. Head up to the Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area on U.S. 20 from Mountain Home.
Where to find more wildflowers — and ensure they’ll bloom in the future
You can plan to see flowers later in the summer at higher elevations in places like McCall, Stanley and Sun Valley. Ertter will continue to lead wildflower walks in the Boise area through July, and the Statesman will publish additional articles on wildflower hotspots this summer.
While you’re looking for blooms, be sure not to disturb the plants. Some tourists trampled flowers during California’s recent super bloom, but Ertter said it’s simple to be a good steward and still enjoy the flora.
Ertter says the No. 1 rule is not to pick the plants (unless they’re invasive species, such as bachelor’s button). Stay on trails as much as possible, and watch your step if you have to leave the trail at all.
Finally, remember that you’re one of hundreds or possibly thousands of people who will view the wildflowers — and the impact of each person really adds up.
“We like to think our individual choices don’t have that much of an impact (on the environment),” Ertter said. “But they do.”