The Wildflower Trail is a part of the National Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway, which travels primarily on California State Highway 168, and ties the Sierra Nevada with eight foothill and mountain communities. The scenic byway rises 9,000 feet in elevation from the San Joaquin Valley to within viewing distance of the Kaiser, Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas.
The Wildflower Trail is a lovely foothill drive along a 50-mile section of the scenic byway, and can be driven any time during the year due to its lower elevation. It is a fabulous trail for everyone, but especially for photographers. The trail can be done in a leisurely stop-for-photos four-hour drive.
Length of Byway or Route
The Wildflower Trail is approximately 50 miles. The Byway is 70 miles.
The Wildflower Trail starts in Old Town Clovis, heads south on Clovis Avenue and then east on Ashlan Avenue. Ashlan curves into the Watts Valley Road. Turn onto Lodge Road, going right onto Highway 168. Drive up the four lane road, turn left at Pine Ridge onto the Auberry Road. At Prather, take the right leg of the "Y" and continue on the Auberry Road down into the valley.
The Scenic Byway starts in Old Town Clovis and follows California Highway 168 up to Prather, continues on to Shaver Lake, Huntington Lake and up to the White Bark Vista turnoff, Kaiser Pass Road.
Highlights and Key Points Along the Route
The Wildflower Trail starts with two historical Magnolia Trees in Old Town Clovis. As you drive on Ashlan into the foothills, you will see Popcorn Flowers and Fiddleneck and European species of wild mustard and wild radish. At Humphrey's Station stop to see the historical plaque. Midway up the four lane, stop to see the Carpenteria, one of California's rarest shrubs, found only in the foothills of eastern Fresno and Madera counties. It can be seen flowering from April through June.
Drive on Auberry Road in late March and early April and see the breathtakingly pink of all the Redbud Bushes, some the size of trees. The view is enhanced with blossoming Buck Brush, a large lilac-looking bush with tiny cream-colored starlike blossoms. As you drive down into the valley, you will again see Popcorn Flower, Lupine and Fiddleneck in early spring, and Farewell-To-Spring, a lovely pink flower, and Buckeye, a long spiked beautiful white flower in May. Turn onto Copper Avenue and see tree fruit varieties in bloom.
In Old Town Clovis, historical architecture abounds. Clovis has a wonderful country atmosphere and friendly attitude to go with it. Many events take place during the year, including craft shows, antique shows, the Farmer's Market and the famous Clovis Rodeo. Leaving Clovis, drive up the Scenic Byway-Highway 168 to the community of Prather (1,500 ' elevation). This is a nice stop to get refreshments and stretch. Stopping at Vista Point in the Pineridge area (4,500' elevation) you can look out over the San Joaquin Valley where once there were logging mills and apple orchards. If you look uphill towards Pineridge School, you are looking at part of the 40-mile route of the Shaver Flume, which once transported lumber from Shaver to the mills in Clovis.
Shaver Lake (5,600' elevation) has a historic museum telling about the logging activities and how the dam was built in 1927. Huntington Lake (7000' elevation) is ranked as one of the top sailing lakes in California. The lake has several Regattas throughout the summer.The Byway is closed in the winter from Huntington Lake up through Kaiser Pass due to snow.
For over 17 years, Judith Preuss commuted from Shaver Lake to Clovis to serve on the staff at the Clovis Chamber of Commerce. As an amateur photographer, she took photos of the wildflowers along Highway 168.
In 1995, Judith served as chairwoman of the Federal/State/County/Clovis City Committee that established the Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway and the Wildflower Trail.
When Judith retired in October 2003, the Clovis Chamber of Commerce chose to rename the trail the "Judith Preuss Wildflower Trail".