With all the rain hitting California this year, a possible chance of a super bloom would happen, and I didn’t want to miss out on it! I had Walker Canyon Poppy Field bookmarked for two years now, since the last super bloom in 2017. And seeing how much rainfall California had over the recent months, I took a visit to Walker Canyon last week.
About a 40 min to 1-hour drive from Orange, I took the 15 Freeway, exit Lake St, made a left and parked right in front of the trail. Luckily because I came at the dawn of Tuesday, there was nobody in sight. At the start of the trail, it was just a dirt slope possibly leading to more dirt. But almost reaching the top of the hill, you began to see patches of poppies blooming everywhere.
I didn’t walk far after reaching the top of the hill since I had to be back at work in a couple of hours. And besides, there were so many areas of dense patches of poppies everywhere. I did wander a bit off the dirt trail and got in between patches of poppies for some shots all in an hour’s frame.
The following day, I convinced my boyfriend to take me back around sunset time to walk further into the trail and explore more of the scenic views (potentially finding new shooting spots). Coming back for the second time, especially around sunset time, had to be the best decisions ever. The further I walked into the canyon, the more poppies and wildflowers I saw. It’s truly stunning to see mountain peaks, flowers, and hear only the sound of nature. This time around, we stayed until the camera battery died which was also the last bit of light in the sky.
So was it worth visiting? Was there a lot of poppies?
Yes, absolutely. I highly recommend visiting this canyon; it’s dog-friendly and very scenic. It’s not a popular trail – you can literally have the whole trail to yourself depending on the time of the day. But bear in mind, the super bloom usually draws a bigger crowd, even to the less popular trails.
Best spots to see the poppies on this trail?
There are an immense amount of poppies everywhere! You can literally pick any spot along the trail and snap some nice shots. I did mark the spot below (at the end of this post) on Google Maps where I walked off of the trail and up onto a hill of poppies. Once you’re there, I’m sure you’ll find some beautiful places of your own!
Sunrise or Sunset?
I personally loved shooting during sunset a lot more – the colors of the poppies are vibrant and glowing and the skies are bluer. However, the lighting during sunrise is softer and lighter. It really depends on your preferences.
Best time to go?
During the weekdays, I visited Walker Canyon at dawn of sunrise and an hour before sunset. At both times, it was pleasant and empty. I even went back again this recent Sunday and I couldn’t believe how crowded it was! Cars were lined up at the trail about a mile long and there were people everywhere heading up the slope to the poppies. Luckily the first section of poppies really caught the majority of the people’s interest. But as you continued further into the trail, there were less and fewer people. The best spot that I personally thought had the best fields of poppies and evidently, in my picture the best views, was completely empty. It’s marked below in the Google Map’s image, just in case you missed it from the previous section.
So in summary, if you’re a portrait photographer or travel blogger who needs the best lighting, choose between sunrise and sunset. If you don’t like crowds at all and don’t want to deal with finding parking, then visit on a weekday. If you decide to come on a weekend, you’ll be spending additional time on parking and walking to the trail. You’ll be walking up the slope surrounded by a crowd. But if you don’t mind what I’ve mentioned, you can still get amazing shots by going further into the trail where I’ve marked the spot.
Tips when visiting …
- Check the weather before visiting. Bring a sweater because it can get chilly as you get higher and further into the trail.
- Wear decent shoes especially if you are wandering off the beaten path. I wore sandals the first time I visited (regretted it) and made sure I wore my Nike’s the second time. On the third visit, I wore my old Nike’s since the trail was muddy from the recent rain.
- Arrive either at sunrise or an hour before sunset or the weekdays if you don’t like “crowds”. You’ll also get first dibs at the closest parking right next to the trail.
- Last but not least, enjoy the trail! Spend some time enjoying the place and take in the view.
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