Plant Guide to Cedar Spring Trail: Trailhead to PCT, San Jacinto Mountains - Garner Valley Area

This guide is out of date. Subsequent work on the flora of this trail went into a traditional flora in family order, not on this plant trail guide.

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

Highlights of This Trail
Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time
Botanical Trip Reports
The Plant Guide
Comments On Specific Species


The Cedar Spring Trail is a well-graded and switchbacked trail that passes through some very interesting habitats, as well as through a number of gates that divide Forest land from private property.

Although the first portion is a road that is fenced on both sides through the private property of the Girl Scout Camp, and a lot of the area has been cleared for fire protection, it is still interesting, and has many of the usual species for this area.

This brief road section ends after one quarter mile after the road crosses the East Canyon branch of Morris Creek. The trail then follows the Creek for the next 0.7 miles in almost constant shade from interior live oak, Quercus chrysolepis. There are thickets of wild rose, Rosa californica, in places, and several patches of velvet ash, Fraxinus velutina, with its very velvety leaves.

The Forest section of the lower trail is grazed, so the plants are seriously munched in areas, and there are fresh cow pads in abundance at times. That portion is followed by a beautiful meadow in the Girl Scout Camp property that has a lot of interesting natives. But there is a quite sharp division in it whose cause is not obvious. The upper meadow is almost entirely a non-native weed patch of mostly Oriental mustard, Sisymbrium orientale.

The habitat changes completely when the trail leaves the Creek and begins zig-zagging up the hot southwest-facing slope of the Desert Divide. This portion has the largest concentration of flannelbush, Fremontodendron californicum, that we have seen at San Jacinto Mountains, accompanied by a large number of hollyleaf cherry, Prunus ilicifolia.

The top of the trail is yet another completely different habitat, where a rare species is found, California penstemon, Penstemon californicus.

This guide is only to the portion of the trail up to the PCT. There is a separate guide to the rest of Cedar Spring Trail, which goes through a completely different habitat on the northeast-facing slopes of the Desert Divide.

Directions to the trailhead. The trailhead is reached via the signed paved Morris Ranch Road, which heads north from SR74 (the Palms to Pines Highway) about four miles west of the intersection of SR74 and SR371, at the fire station just east of mile marker 67.75. It is 3.8 miles along Morris Ranch Road to the Cedar Spring trailhead, just past the Joe Sherman Girl Scout Camp, and 1/4 mile before the end of the road at the Morris Ranch.

There is very little parking at the trailhead itself, only enough for 2-4 cars, depending on whether you can shoehorn your cars into the narrow strips along the road. There is a larger parking area a bit to the south.

Trail length and elevation gain. The portion from the trailhead to the PCT and back is 4.6 miles roundtrip, with 1300 feet of elevation gain and loss. The entire trail from the trailhead to Cedar Spring and back is 6.2 miles roundtrip, with 1700 feet of elevation gain and loss.

The trail starts at 5480 feet elevation, with a fairly uniform and strenuous slope of ~570 feet per mile to its high point at 6780 feet on the Desert Divide 2.3 miles from the start. The trail then descends 0.8 miles to 6400 feet to Cedar Spring (~460 feet per mile), which is the end of the trail.

This guide is the result of just two trips in autumn, on 28 October 2008 and 1 November 2008, and hence is especially incomplete for annuals and some perennials. The definitive determination of many species needs to be checked in spring or summer.

Highlights of This Trail

The botanical highlights of this trail are:

Number of Unique Taxa On This Trail

The following histogram gives the number of trails in our database that contain each taxon on this trail. We had 131 trails in our database when this histogram was made; 4 of those trails, including this one, are in this area of San Jacinto Mountain. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found on this trail among the trails in our database; numbers of "4" or smaller may indicate taxa found only in this area of San Jacinto Mountain.

Number of Trails
Containing A Taxon
Number Of Taxa
On This Trail
% of Taxa
On This Trail
Total Taxa103100%

We found 17 additional species not in the above table, since they have not been identified yet. The unidentified ones are marked with ? or sp in the id? column in the guide, and have no entry in the #all column.

Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time

The following table gives the dates the trail was walked and taxa recorded. After each visit, the table gives the total number of taxa on the list and the breakdown of the taxa without positive identification. See Explanation of Plant Trail Guides to understand the symbols below.

Visit DateVisit ## taxa# "?"# "sp"# "~"# "ssp"

We thank Jordan Zylstra for identifying the Linum lewisii from our pictures of the dead plants on 10/28/08.

Botanical Trip Reports

The Plant Guide

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page: html (6 pages) or pdf Clickbook booklet (2 double-sided pages). (See printing instructions for an explanation of these options)

MileS#id?Common NameLatin Name#here#all
0.00   Begin guide just inside gate at trailhead, elevation 5480 feet (1670 m)
0.00r1 California-asterLessingia filaginifolia var. filaginifolia50 / 966
0.00b2 matchweedGutierrezia sarothrae20 / 520
0.00b3 bristly bird's beakCordylanthus rigidus ssp. setigerus99 / 939
0.00r4 basketbushRhus trilobata20 / 330
0.00l5 *downy bromeBromus tectorum99 / 935
0.00r6 interior live oakQuercus wislizeni var. frutescens40 / 918
0.00l7 Davidson's buckwheatEriogonum davidsonii50 / 923
0.00l8 birch-leaf mountain-mahoganyCercocarpus betuloides var. betuloides99 / 929
0.00r9 Parry's nolinaNolina parryi20 / 95
0.00l10 Torrey's scrub oakQuercus acutidens5 / 231
0.00r11~California elegant rock-cressArabis sparsiflora var. californica20 / 93
0.00b12~Parish's needlegrassAchnatherum parishii50 / 913
0.00l13 Laguna manzanitaArctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. adamsii30 / 45
0.00l14 red shanksAdenostoma sparsifolium99 / 97
0.01r15 southern honeysuckleLonicera subspicata var. denudata30 / 950
0.01l16 chaparral yuccaYucca whipplei50 / 939
0.02r17 pink-bracted manzanitaArctostaphylos pringlei ssp. drupacea5 / 512
0.02r18 cupped-leaf ceanothusCeanothus greggii var. perplexans30 / 913
0.02l sp(Young three needle pine: Coulter pine, Pinus coulteri, or Jeffrey pine, Pinus jeffreyi)
0.02r  Sign: "Cedar Spring Trail crosses private land; please stay on trail"
0.03l19 canyon live oakQuercus chrysolepis99 / 939
0.03r20 mountain sagebrushArtemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana20 / 411
0.03r  Sign: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains Monument 3 miles ahead"
0.03l21 chamiseAdenostoma fasciculatum3 / 144
0.03l22 California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium50 / 930
0.03l  (Vasey's prickly-pear, Opuntia vaseyi; Wright's buckwheat, Eriogonum wrightii var. membranaceum; phlox-leaved bedstraw, Galium andrewsii ssp. andrewsii; desert globemallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua var. rugosa)
0.04   Trail turns right
0.05l23 California thistleCirsium occidentale var. californicum20 / 919
0.08l24 Vasey's prickly-pearOpuntia vaseyi3 / 330
0.08l25 San Jacinto Mtns. bedstrawGalium angustifolium ssp. jacinticum30 / 96
0.08l26 white-margined oxythecaOxytheca emarginata50 / 95
0.08l27~giant four o'clockMirabilis multiflora var. pubescens4 / 46
0.08l28 *common wheatTriticum aestivum1 / 14
0.09l29 desert globemallowSphaeralcea ambigua var. rugosa20 / 96
0.09b30 bur-ragweedAmbrosia acanthicarpa20 / 323
0.11l  Water tank; trail turns right
0.11b31 *shortpod mustardHirschfeldia incana50 / 956
0.12r32~western tansy-mustardDescurainia pinnata20 / 9 
0.13b33~spear-leaved mountain dandelionAgoseris retrorsa20 / 920
0.14b34spMariposa lilyCalochortus sp.10 / 5 
0.14r35sppopcorn flowerCryptantha sp. /  
0.14l36 ashy silk tasselGarrya flavescens20 / 910
0.15b37~scarlet buglerPenstemon centranthifolius20 / 914
0.19r38 Mohave yuccaYucca schidigera1 / 114
0.22l39 San Jacinto buckwheatEriogonum apiculatum10 / 212
0.22r40ssphoary asterMachaeranthera asteroides5 / 22
0.22b41 flannelbushFremontodendron californicum ssp. californicum50 / 98
0.23r  (green-leaf manzanita, Arctostaphylos patula)
0.23r42~Parish' Jacumba milk-vetchAstragalus douglasii var. parishii1 / 18
0.23r  (loose - not attached to ground here - Russian thistle, Salsola tragus)
0.24l  (white mugwort, Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. albula; wild tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus)
0.24   Cross East Canyon branch of Morris Creek; trail turns left 90°
0.24r43 *ripgut bromeBromus diandrus50 / 956
0.25b44~wild pepper-grassLepidium virginicum var. pubescens30 / 99
0.25l45 white mugwortArtemisia ludoviciana ssp. albula30 / 910
0.26c46 *Bermuda grassCynodon dactylon1 / 139
0.27c47spsubshrub lupine in trailLupinus (excubitus?)1 / 1 
0.27r48 Wright's buckwheatEriogonum wrightii var. membranaceum40 / 912
0.28l49~western morning-gloryCalystegia occidentalis ssp. fulcrata10 / 911
0.28r50spgiliaGilia sp.30 / 3 
0.28r51 hollyleaf redberryRhamnus ilicifolia5 / 552
0.28b52?unk dead annual with whorled flowers like Chinese housesCollinsia concolor?10 / 1 
0.28l  Check for narrowleaf monardella, Monardella linoides ssp. linoides, observed on first trip, but not since
0.29l53 naked buckwheatEriogonum nudum var. pauciflorum20 / 513
0.29l54~Martin's paintbrushCastilleja applegatei ssp. martinii10 / 924
0.29l55~southern mountain phloxPhlox austromontana10 / 14
0.29r56 phlox-leaved bedstrawGalium andrewsii ssp. andrewsii20 / 29
0.31r57 California coffeeberryRhamnus californica30 / 98
0.32r58~Palmer's ceanothusCeanothus palmeri10 / 39
0.33   Leave Girl Scout Property; go through gate to Forest Service property that is leased for grazing
0.35r59spyoung three needle pinePinus coulteri or P. ponderosa3 / 29
0.35r  (blue elderberry, Sambucus mexicana)
0.36   Cross creek to left
0.36l  Sign: "Picnic tables 0.7 mi; Cedar Spring 3 mi; West Fork 10 mi; Toll gate 15 mi"
0.36l60 Fremont's goosefootChenopodium fremontii20 / 917
0.37r61 goldenrodSolidago californica30 / 554
0.38r  hairy-leaf version of California coffeeberry, Rhamnus californica
0.38r  (velvet ash, Fraxinus velutina)
0.39r  (California wild rose, Rosa californica; California brickellbush, Brickellia californica)
0.39l62~angel's giliaGilia angelensis30 / 316
0.40r63 arroyo willowSalix lasiolepis10 / 347
0.42b64 Mexican rushJuncus mexicanus30 / 228
0.42   Cross creek to right
0.42l65 California wild roseRosa californica40 / 516
0.44l  (red willow, Salix laevigata)
0.46l66 incense-cedarCalocedrus decurrens1 / 124
0.49   Cross creek to left
0.50r67 velvet ashFraxinus velutina20 / 35
0.50r  ponderosa pinePinus ponderosa /  
0.55l68sspSan Diego peaLathyrus vestitus var. alefeldii1 / 127
0.58l  golden yarrowEriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum30 / 969
0.59l69~globe giliaGilia capitata ssp. abrotanifolia40 / 99
0.59r70 wild tarragonArtemisia dracunculus20 / 335
0.59l  Jct. use trail; leave continuous shade for patchy shade
0.60l71spsuncupCamissonia sp.30 / 9 
0.60r72 goldenstarBloomeria crocea20 / 417
0.60l73~bajada lupineLupinus concinnus1 / 121
0.63r74 brackenPteridium aquilinum var. pubescens20 / 224
0.63l75?scroph with dense sessile fruitAntirrhinum coulterianum or Linaria?30 / 9 
0.63l ?(tall dead annual with pinnate leaves)
0.67   Go through gate back on to Girl Scout Property; note big difference in plants due to grazing not occurring here
0.67b76 deergrassMuhlenbergia rigens20 / 233
0.67r77 long-leaved asterAster ascendens10 / 11
0.68r ~(smooth scouring rush, Equisetum laevigatum; virgin's bower, Clematis ligusticifolia; Pacific rush, Juncus effusus var. pacificus; ~rigid hedge-nettle, Stachys ~ajugoides var. rigida; willowherb, Epilobium ciliatum ssp. ciliatum)
0.68b78 Lewis' flaxLinum lewisii var. lewisii5 / 12
0.68r79 *prickly lettuceLactuca serriola3 / 148
0.68l80~tower mustardArabis glabra var. glabra10 / 12
0.68l81 yarrowAchillea millefolium5 / 123
0.68r82 sticky lessingiaLessingia glandulifera var. glandulifera20 / 14
0.68b83~*Oriental mustardSisymbrium orientale50 / 918
0.73  spJct. road; take it left (on right, past stream, is a clover, Trifolium sp., and further is Mexican manzanita, Arctostaphylos pungens)
0.74l84 California barberryBerberis aquifolium var. dictyota10 / 22
0.77r85 virgin's bowerClematis ligusticifolia10 / 210
0.77r86 stinging nettleUrtica dioica ssp. holosericea10 / 112
0.82l87 blue wildryeElymus glaucus5 / 111
0.82b  Huge weedpatch of Oriental mustard, Sisymbrium orientale
0.87r  Two picnic tables
0.90   Cross main branch of creek for final time to right, but you won't notice the creek since it becomes a meadow here; elevation 5880 feet (1792 m)
0.92r  Sign: "Be prepared for hazardous conditions..."
0.94b88 willow-leaved dockRumex salicifolius var. denticulatus2 / 111
0.94l  Sign: "Cedar Spring Trail 4E17; PCT 1.5 mi; Cedar Spring 2.1 mi"; trail starts steep uphill portion
0.94r89 slender wreathplantStephanomeria exigua ssp. deanei5 / 120
0.94b90 thick-leaved yerba santaEriodictyon crassifolium var. crassifolium40 / 914
0.95l  (rock goldenbush, Ericameria cuneata var. cuneata)
0.97r91sprigid hedge-nettleStachys ajugoides var. rigida10 / 223
0.97r92~Hooker's evening-primroseOenothera elata ssp. hirsutissima5 / 112
0.97r93 Pacific rushJuncus effusus var. pacificus1 / 17
0.98r94 western false-indigoAmorpha fruticosa1 / 13
1.00r95 clustered field sedgeCarex praegracilis3 / 210
1.00   Rock "bridge" over side drainage; good shady rest stop
1.00  ~(~western columbine, ~Aquilegia formosa)
1.00b96sspsticky cinquefoilPotentilla glandulosa10 / 17
1.01r97 California brickellbushBrickellia californica10 / 532
1.01   Switchback left; elevation 6000 feet (1829 m)
1.01r  (mountain California-fuchsia, Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium)
1.01b98spbluegrass or melica?like Poa or Melica sp.3 / 1 
1.01r99 branching phaceliaPhacelia ramosissima var. latifolia1 / 134
1.01l100~wild grapeVitis girdiana1 / 19
1.03r  Check for coffee fern, Pellaea andromedifolia
1.05r101spCalifornia? dodderCuscuta (californica?)1 / 1 
1.06r102 hollyleaf cherryPrunus ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia40 / 918
1.06r103 bird's-foot fernPellaea mucronata var. mucronata20 / 937
1.06r104spwild Canterbury bells?Phacelia (minor?)30 / 9 
1.07r105?unk annual Asteraceae with pappus of scalesChaenactis??1 / 1 
1.07r  (desert dudleya, Dudleya saxosa ssp. aloides)
1.09r106 desert dudleyaDudleya saxosa ssp. aloides2 / 16
1.10   Switchback right
1.18   Switchback left
1.23r107spannual monkeyflowerMimulus sp.3 / 1 
1.29   Leave Girl Scout Property through gate into Forest Land
1.30r108~beady lipfernCheilanthes covillei10 / 55
1.30r  Check Arctostaphylos glandulosa here for subspecies; bracts seem to be leaf-like, leaves are not glaucous
1.30   Switchback right
1.37l109 Mojave prickly-pearOpuntia erinacea var. erinacea3 / 35
1.40l110 whorledleaf penstemonKeckiella ternata var. ternata5 / 511
1.40l111 rock goldenbushEricameria cuneata var. cuneata10 / 38
1.42l ~(caterpillar phacelia, Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida)
1.44   Switchback left; elevation 6200 feet (1890 m)
 l112~Veatch's blazing starMentzelia veatchiana40 / 54
1.46r113~caterpillar phaceliaPhacelia cicutaria var. hispida20 / 318
1.47r114 chiaSalvia columbariae2 / 134
1.54   Switchback right
1.62   Switchback left
1.64r115~imbricate phaceliaPhacelia imbricata10 / 4 
1.70   Switchback right
1.83   Switchback left; elevation ~6450 feet (1966 m)
1.86r116?unk scroph-type infl with woolly stem and leaves?5 / 1 
1.86r117?unk per with filago-type dead or aborted flowers on a white mugwort-like plant?5 / 2 
1.86r  Check if these woolly very young plants are the same as one of the previous two species or Hulsea
1.97   Switchback right
2.10   Switchback left; elevation ~6620 feet (2018 m)
2.14r  (white everlasting, Gnaphalium canescens ssp. microcephalum)
2.16   Switchback right
2.24   Switchback left
2.24r118?annual Chaenactis?Chaenactis?20 / 1 
2.28l119 California penstemonPenstemon californicus5 / 11
2.28l ~(Parish's tauschia, Tauschia parishii)
2.28l120?beautiful hulsea?Hulsea vestita ssp. callicarpha?3 / 1 
2.29   Jct. PCT; elevation ~6780 feet (2067 m). See Guide to rest of Cedar Spring Trail if you are continuing on this trail.

Comments On Specific Species


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Copyright © 2008 by Tom Chester and Dave Stith.
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 9 November 2008.