There’s no record of Dr. Seuss ever hiking in the Trinity Alps, but I have a strong hunch that he visited the northern California wilderness at least once. Nothing else explains the uncanny resemblance between the good doctor’s famous Truffula Trees and a field of bizarre, swirly headed, fuzz-topped flowers 5 miles up Long Canyon. The would-be Truffula Trees-mountain anemones, to be precise-appear in a meadow on my favorite alpine wildflower hike, a trail I return to year after year in an endless quest to see every bloom in the canyon.
The steep trail, part of an 18-mile route around the Four Lakes Loop, doles out its charms slowly, almost grudgingly, so that by the time you arrive at the heart of the canyon, you’ve earned every petal. You’ll find delicate, lonely cascades of lilies growing bravely in the shade of towering incense cedars. In the sunshine near trailside creeks, sprays of leopard lilies glow electric orange.
A mile-long meadow overflows with a riot of neon-colored flowers. Snowmelt springs bubble from the ground, nourishing lush gardens of monkshood, scarlet gilia, columbines, shooting stars, Indian paintbrush, and angelica. A field of rare yellow lupine burnishes an entire slope with golden petals.
But continue on and you’ll discover that the best is yet to come. A stiff climb leads you to a small hanging meadow at the head of the canyon, where in late July you just might come face to fuzz with a garden of Truffula Trees. Of course, I’ve long since learned the real name of these mysterious plants, but I still like to tell my friends that they were named by Dr. Seuss. No one has doubted me yet.