The Flora of the PCT
A8 Sunrise Parking Area Junction to Highway 78

Fig. 1.
Top Row, from left to right: Eriophyllum confertiflorum, golden yarrow; Penstemon spectabilis, showy penstemon; Delphinium parishii ssp. subglobosum, intermediate larkspur.
Bottom row, from left to right: Opuntia phaeacantha, desert prickly-pear.; Opuntia basilaris, beavertail cactus; and Stipa speciosa, desert needlegrass.
All pictures taken in the section from Rodriguez Canyon Road to two miles north by Tom Chester on 5 May 2014.
Click on the pictures for larger versions.

SegmentSegment StartSegment EndSegment LengthElevation (feet)
A8Sunrise Parking Area JunctionHighway 7818 miles225050002750
   A8aSunrise Parking Area JunctionRodriguez Canyon Road9.1 miles363050001370
   A8bRodriguez Canyon RoadHighway S28.0 miles224036301390
   A8cHighway S2Highway 780.9 miles2240227535

Survey Dates
The Plant Checklists


This section of trail begins in the Laguna Mountains in chaparral at 5000 feet elevation, descends through the desert transition area, and ends in typical desert flora at 2250 feet. The species at the beginning of this section are almost completely different from the species at the end of this section! The trail order plant list documents how the plant species change along this section.

The beginning of this section is probably the only part of the trail in southern California that contains Redbud, with only a few individuals. The Sonoma sage population also continues from the last section for a short way. After ~2.5 miles traveling along the Laguna Rim at 4800 feet elevation, the trail drops into Chariot Canyon, and then spends ~3 miles following the 4200 foot contour before dropping down to Rodriguez Canyon Road. The trail then contours around the north side of the prominent Granite Mountain, site of a 2012 fire, dropping very slowly to 3100 feet. After about 2.5 miles at 3100 feet, the trail slowly drops to the San Felipe Valley floor at 2200 feet at Highway S2. The trail then runs parallel to highway S2 for about 1 mile before crossing over to the burnt riparian woodlands of San Felipe Creek.

Due to the length of the trail, we have split this into two sections of nearly-equal length. Many day-hikers may choose to do each section as a back and forth hike. Section A8b is perhaps more attractive to skip the first mile, and start heading south at Highway S2. This is the way we have done it for the plant trail order list linked below.


Fig. 2. Left: Trail Map for the PCT Section A8 from Sunrise Parking Area Junction to Highway 78, from USDA Forest Service Interactive Map. Right: Elevation profile from Sunrise Parking Area Junction to Highway 78, from south to north. Click on the pictures for larger versions.

Survey Dates

The following surveys have been done and incorporated into the plant checklist:

The checklist below also includes six species vouchered from the trail (Section A8b) that we have not yet observed, for a total of 122 species in A8a, 228 species in A8b, and a grand total of 281 species in all of A8. It is likely that these six species are also not from exactly next to the trail, but in the vicinity of the trail.

The Plant Checklists

There are usually four different versions of the Plant Checklists, which differ depending on:

The lists are given separately below for the entire section A8; for just section A8a; and for just section A8b.

The entire Section A8

Only Section A8a

Only Section A8b

Separate condensed print versions of just the checklist names are available for all except for the Calflora thumbnail picture version, as a link on each of those pages.

Go to:

Copyright © 2014-2015 by RT Hawke, Shaun Hawke, Tom Chester, Kate Harper, Walt Fidler, Adrienne Ballwey, and Keir Morse
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to us at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 6 January 2015.