One of the best sites for viewing spring wildflowers in N. California is Bear Valley, located off Hwy 20 between Williams and Clear Lake. Early April is usually high time so yesterday a riding buddy and I took our NX250's on a nice 160 mile tour de blooms.
Map of the Bear Valley & Walker Ridge portion of the ride-
Warm weather and slightly cloudy skies greeted us as we left the little town of Winters and a mirror-like Lake Solano.
We took back roads through farmland and followed Hwy 16 through the always beautiful Capay Valley.
We passed through the tiny towns of Esparto, Capay, Brooks, Guinda, and Rumsey and 48 miles later crossed Hwy 20 and the start of Bear Valley Rd. All gravel, this scenic route starts out winding along the edge of a canyon with Bear Creek far below. Along the way a few poppies, lupine, and Western Redbuds built our hopes for bigger displays further along.
Approaching the main valley floor we hit pay dirt. It turned out the blooms were much less dramatic and varied than in some past years, but were a plenty good excuse to take a ride through this magical valley.
Bear Valley is home to just a few cattle ranches and much of the land is protected from development while still allowing grazing.
Taking a leisurely pace, we didn't mind waiting for these cowboys and their dogs to herd their cattle down the road a ways.
Underway again we carefully steered around cow flops and turned left onto Brim Road for a steep climb up to Walker Ridge.
Looking back down Brim Rd. toward Bear Valley -
Bunches of Indian Paintbrush decorated the roadside.
Once atop Walker Ridge we had our choice of stunning views in every direction. Whether the inviting road ahead . . .
Indian Valley Reservoir down below to the west . . .
Snow Mountain to the north . . .
or Bear Valley to the east with the Sutter Buttes barely visible poking through the haze, we enjoyed them all and did not see another soul since climbing out of Bear Valley.
Heading south toward Hwy 20 we savored our last ridge top views as the path wound steadily down.
Back on pavement, Hwy 16 took us home again with happy hearts and sore butts. All in all it was another day well spent on two wheels.