LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — Golden poppy blooms have been spotted in Lake Elsinore, but the city shut down access to the main hiking trail to avoid the chaos that ensued during 2019’s super bloom, so CBS 8’s Brian White hit the road northbound on I-15 in search of the beautiful flowers.
While driving into Lake Elsinore, drivers see sweeping hillsides peppered with golden-orange patches of blooming golden poppies. This sight becomes more vivid while approaching the Lake Street exit by Walker Canyon Trail.
To deter onlookers from parking along the I-15 freeway, cones and ‘No Parking’ signs have been placed along the shoulder. The City of Lake Elsinore also shut down access to Walker Canyon Trail and Walker Canyon Road to dissuade massive crowds from showing up as they did in 2019.
“It was incredible,” said Gail Trivison of the 2019 super bloom. “The whole hills were covered with flowers, and you could walk through them.”
City officials held a press conference Tuesday explaining road and trail closures.
“In the past, cars have stopped and parked along Interstate 15. This is illegal and unsafe. No one should be parking on the freeway. This should go without saying, however, the poppy crowds have a mind of their own,” said Mayor Natasha Johnson. “Many Lake Elsinore neighborhoods were severed from access to the rest of the city by traffic gridlock.”
“People were parking like idiots and causing traffic jams and everything else,” said Jeff Rosenbery, who remembered the super bloom. “The freeway was at a dead stop.”
With everything shut down, city officials are asking people to exercise their poppy patience.
“They’re probably one of the most iconic species for super blooms and for Instagram sensationalism,” said Dr. Daniel Winkler, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Southwest Biological Science Center.
Winkler points to the massive amounts of rain that fell in Southern California last month and why we see these early blooms.
“It depends on how much rain fell in a particular area, but also if the seeds in the soil seed bank were primed and ready for receiving that precipitation to create a wildflower display,” said Winkler. “A big question about whether the showy display will be as impressive as past super blooms will depend on us continuing to receive precipitation in the next few weeks or so.”
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