California Native Plant Society
San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

Snowmelt gullies, summer 2009

The snowmelt gullies referred to here are those places high on the northern face of the San Gabriel Mountains where the snow lingers longest, and where in late summer there is abundant dampness, typically with water trickling down slopes that are too steep to climb comfortably. Thus it is fortuitous that State Highway 2, the Angeles Crest Highway, traverses the northern slopes of the mountains providing easy opportunity to see these areas at first hand. Being high, cool, and damp, they are some of the last places to produce their “spring” bloom. All of the photographs here are from late July and early August 2009.

This page has six panels of photos, of which four are from the snowmelt gullies,and two from neighboring areas along the highway. Of these four snowmelt gullies, the first three are between Islip Saddle (6,592 ft) and Dawson Saddle (7,901 ft), while the fourth is between Dawson Saddle and Vincent Gap (6,565 ft). The final panel of photos is from further east in the meadow at Big Pines (6,862 ft.).

Choose from the following panels of photos:
A. Roadside seep
B. Snowmelt gully 1
C. Snowmelt gully 2
D. Snowmelt gully 3
E. Snowmelt gully 4
F. Meadow at Big Pine

Click on the thumbnails to see higher-resolution images, 720 x 480 pixels.

A. Roadside seep

This roadside seep is east of Islip Saddle on the Angeles Crest Highway. While not a snowmelt gully, it is a similar environment. The many-flowered monkeyflower, a tiny trinket of yellow, is common adjacent to the water running from the seep along the southern side of the road, until it disappears through a culvert and down the mountainside.

Seep on left side of highway, looking south

Willowherb (Epilobium glaberinum or ciliatum)

Sedges at roadside seep

Many-flowered monkeyflower
(Mimulus floribundus)

Mexican elderberry (Sambucus mexicana)

Giant blazing star (Mentzelia laevicaulis)

Sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana)

White fir
(Abies concolor), part killeld by mistletoe

Mojave Desert from roadside seep

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B. Snowmelt gully 1

This gully is notable for the burn scars visible at the higher elevations, the result of the Curve Fire in 2002.

Snowmelt gully

Burn area above the snowmelt gully

Masses of
giant red paintbrush &
scarlet monkeyflower

Parish's oxytheca (Oxytheca parishii var. parishii)

Trees on the
steep hillside

Poodle-dog bush (Turricula parryi)

Prickly poppy (Argemone munita)

Beaked penstemon (Penstemon rostriflorus)

Chinkapin (Chrysolepis sempervirens)

Ocean spray (Holodiscus discolor)

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C. Snowmelt gully 2

This broad, wet slope is packed with masses of flowering plants. It is almost directly below Lily Spring, which is central to an area to be surveyed in one of our chapter's projects.

Snowmelt gully above highway

Avalanche chute above highway

Mountain carpet clover (Trifolium monanthum var. monanthum)

Giant red paintbrush
(Castilleja miniata ssp. miniata)

Wet slope of the snowmelt gully

Corn lily (Veratrum californicum var. californicum)

Bigelow's sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii)



Stream orchid (Epipactus gigantea)

Chinkapin (Chrysolepis sempervirens)

Many-flowered monkeyflower
(Mimulus floribundus)

A rush (Juncus sp.)

White-flowered bog orchid
(Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys)

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)

Virgin's bower (Clematis ligusticifolia)

Scarlet monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis)

Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

WIllowherb (Epilobium glaberinum or ciliatum)

Downy monkeyflower (Mimulus pilosus)

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D. Snowmelt gully 3

This is close to the previous location, and not so extensive.

Snowmelt gully above highway

California fuchsia (Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium)

Corn lily (Veratrum californicum var. californicum)

Silky lupine
(Lupinus elatus)

Giant blazing star (Mentzelia laevicaulis)

Naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum)

Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica ssp. californica)

San Bernardino rubber rabbitbrush
(Ericameria nauseosa)

Prickly poppy
(Argemone munita)

Mojave Desert
to the north

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E. Snowmelt gully 4

This location is known colloquially as Snow Canyon.

Upper section of
Snow Canyon

Urn-flowered alumroot (Heuchera elegans)

Scarlet monkeyflower
(Mimulus cardinalis)

Grinnell's penstemon (Penstemon grinnellii)

Stinging nettle
(Urtica dioica ssp. holosericea)

Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

Johnston's monkeyflower (Mimulus Johnstonii)

Longstalk phacelia (Phacelia longipes)

Parish's catchfly
(Silene parishi)

Giant blazing star (Mentzelia laevicaulis)

California fuchsia (Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium)

An annual buckwheat (Eriogonum sp.)

Brewer's fleabane
(Erigeron breweri var. jacinteus)

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F. Meadow at Big Pines

This meadow, a swampy area with many blooming plants, is adjacent to the Angeles Crest Highway at Big Pines. This is directly east of the snowmelt gullies, and because of its elevation has many plants flowering in the same late-summer period.

The last photo is from the drive back to the Los Angeles area, showing the spectacular panorama where the East Fork of the San Gabriel River runs almost from one side of the San Gabriel Mountains to the other, with the mist of the city in the far distance, and Iron Mountain (8,007 ft) on the left..

The meadow at Big Pines

Water speedwell (Veronica anagallis-aquatica)

Creek monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus)

Slender cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis var. fastigiata)

White hedge nettle (Stachys albens)

Corn lily (Veratrum californicum var. californicum)

Sedges in the wet area

Meadowrue (Thalictrum fendleri)


American wintercress (Barbarea orthoceras)

Unidentified Penstemon


Valley of East Fork of San Gabriel River seen from Inspiration Point

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Images copyright © 2009-2010 Mary and Graham Bothwell.
Thanks to Jane Strong for assistance in identification of plants and flowers.