If you spent too much of summer at the office or cleaning out the garage, don’t fret—you can still catch the late-season wildflower show east of Visalia in Sequoia National Park. The park’s Mineral King is a glacial valley bounded by a cirque of peaks towering over 11,000 feet in elevation. Winters tend to dump heavy snow that’s slow to melt, so flowers bloom late. One of the best places to see flowery colour splashes is below the white marble outcropping at White Chief Mine. In a spot where 1870s miners once searched for silver, you can look for wildflower treasures, like Coville’s columbine and diminutive varieties of Indian paintbrush and lupine.
To hike the round-trip route (roughly six or seven miles depending on where you turn around), start at the Eagle and Mosquito Lakes trailhead in Mineral King. Follow the White Chief Trail, which climbs steeply to White Chief Meadows. At the meadow’s lower end, look for the ruins of Crabtree Cabin, named after the person who first discovered White Chief Mine. Also try to identify foxtail pines, a rare species of conifer that can live well over 1,000 years. Beyond the meadow, the trail nears a waterfall on White Chief Creek, where even in late August you’ll find an explosion of tiny alpine wildflowers below the mine tunnel.
DIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD: From Visalia, drive east on State Highway 198 33 miles to Mineral King Road (4 miles east of Three Rivers). Turn right on Mineral King Road and drive 25 very twisty miles through Sequoia National Park to the road’s end at the Eagle/Mosquito Lakes trailhead.
Snow-covered peaks in winter, gushing waterfalls in spring, wildflower meadows and glistening lakes in summer, vibrant colours in fall—this is a land of dramatic and wild beauty. World-class mountain resorts circling turquoise-blue Lake Tahoe, and at Mammoth Lakes cater to all, with scenic ski trails in winter and trails and vistas in summer.
Yosemite Valley…is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and gold and wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.” --photographer Ansel Adams
Yosemite National Park, a World Heritage Site, is here, roughly 3½ hours east of San Francisco. Whether you hike a mountain, ski the steeps, or lounge in a hot tub beneath a canopy of stars, you’ll find your perfect getaway.
Granite monoliths, waterfalls, alpine meadows—it’s no secret that Yosemite delivery some seriously big wow moments. But what is a secret is the bounty of awesome things you can see and do on your...