Places to See Plants – Episode 1 – Buttermilk Bend Trail

Buttermilk Bend Trail

Bridgeport, South Yuba River State Park, Nevada County

Originally authored by Karen Callahan

From the Buttermilk Bend Trail, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the South Yuba River and a profusion of spring wildflowers and butterflies. The grassy hillsides are covered with neon orange annual Tufted Poppy (Eschscholzia caespitosa) and along the sunny trail look for Bush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons), Sky Lupine (Lupinus nanus), Spider Lupine (Lupinus benthamii), Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum), Common Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia), Ground Iris (Iris macrosiphon), Zigzag Larkspur (Delphinium patens), Foothill Penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus), Bird’s Eye Gilia (Gilia tricolor), Canyon Live Forever (Dudleya cymosa), Pipevine (Aristolochia californica), and Fairy Lanterns (Calochortus albus).

Shrubs include Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii), Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis), California Buckeye (Aesculus californica), Bush Monkeyflower (Diplacus grandiflorus), and Spicebush (Calycanthus occidentalis).

Park docents lead wildflower and bird walks, usually from March through April. The Buttermilk Bend Trail features more than 100 wildflower species. This trail is mostly level and about 3 miles round trip.

An alternative to the Buttermilk Bend Trail would be a leisurely walk from the visitor’s center following the river downstream. There you can see Snowdrop Bush (Styrax redivivus), California Bay Tree (Umbellularia californica), Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum), California Wild Grape (Vitis californica), Buttonwillow (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Blue Elderberry (Sambucus nigra), and four different species of native oaks. Information on other scenic trails at Bridgeport is available at the visitor’s center.

To Get There: Take Highway 20 west from Grass Valley, turn right onto Pleasant Valley Road near Penn Valley, and go 8 miles to South Yuba River State Park. Parking for the visitor’s center and historic covered bridge is just before the South Yuba River. Continue across the bridge for the Buttermilk Bend parking area on the right.

Elevation: 560′

Habitats: Foothill Woodland, Rock Outcrops, Riparian

Land Manager: South Yuba River State Park

Facilities: Restrooms, Visitor’s Center, Picnic Tables, No Drinking Water

Quad: French Corral

GPS Coordinates: N39° 17.597′ W121° 11.551′

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