Friday, March 11, 2016


We are fortunate to have such easy access to great hiking, and with the good wildflowers this year these canyons are that much better. We hiked two local canyons earlier in the week.

Sand Canyon

Map Track Link

Bird Lists

Sand Canyon - Kern
Sand Canyon - Inyo

Lower Sand Canyon
Sand Canyon gets it's name from a sand and gravel pit at the mouth of the canyon. From a birding perspective it is unique as it starts out in Kern County then crosses into Inyo county a couple miles from the trailhead. For those county birders interested in picking up desert and southern Sierra species for their Inyo list, this can be the place. Birds like California Thrasher, California Towhee, and the occasional Wrentit can be found here. 

We started at the wilderness gate and followed the old road up to the county line. At this point there is an old wildfire area that destroyed many of the gray pines. These have fallen on the trail making for more difficult travel. Moving beyond the fire area the canyon narrows and a little route-finding, bush whacking, and side-hilling is in order.  We went well beyond the usual turnaround point and made it farther back in the canyon this time than any previous visit.  We finally quit when the canyon turned into dry waterfalls.  If we had continued on, a mere 1600' of up in less than a mile would have put us on the PCT.  The flowers were excellent and the birding very good with 35 total bird species.

A wind cloud spills over the crest



Chia and Coreopsis

Poodle-dog Bush - a burn area obligate that can cause sever skin reaction similar to poison oak

Poodle-dog Bush

Burn area with many fallen trees


Very cool eroded in place arch rocks

Hillside of Coreopsis

Upper Sand Canyon

Short Canyon

Map Track Link

Bird List

Mary Ann Henry plaque
The following day we headed to Short Canyon. This is notable as a premier place in the Indian Wells Valley for plant variety. A BLM Area of Critical Environmental Concern, nearly 300 species of plants have been described in this small canyon. The canyon is dedicated to Mary Ann Henry, a pioneer in botanical research in the Indian Wells Valley, and especially here in Short Canyon. The bio-diversity in this small space is quite amazing - owning to the convergence of three distinct bio-habitat regions here: Mojave Desert, Great Basin, and Sierra Nevada. We wandered around for the morning marveling at the flower displays. 

Short Canyon Wilderness gate

Poppies, Coreopsis and others along the trail

Charllot's Phacelia

California Poppy


Nolina and Joshua Tree

Nolina flowers. This yucca species flowers every 7-10 years

Upper Short Canyon

Coreopsis covered hillside


Wandering among the flowers

Coreopsis and Scale-buds

The view down into Grapevine Canyon to the north, form the top of Short Canyon

More coreopsis covered hillsides

Charlotte's Phacelia

Leaning rock


Balancing rock

Sand Blossom

Showy Gilia

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