California Native Plant Society
San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

Buckhorn Springs and other nearby springs

The Angeles Crest Highway largely follows a watershed from one side of the San Gabriel Mountains to the other. Along the way it crosses a number of watercourses fed by springs located higher up on the slope and sometimes close to the highway. This gallery page looks at areas around three of these springs.

Buckhorn campground is deservedly popular with campers, a delightful shady location in a canyon with spring-fed creeks that result in tall trees and an understory of ferns. Just opposite the junction of the campground exit road and the highway is the remains of an abandoned forest road that leads up to and beyond Buckhorn Springs. The photographs below in Part A are all associated with a CNPS field trip along this road in July 2009. In a good year the springs have pools of running water, but 2009 was a dry year.

The second part of this gallery page deals with two springs that are adjacent to the highway, Winston Spring and Cortelyou Spring. Both have running water all year round, and have rock and concrete structures to concentrate the water. This results in an abundance of plants that love wet or damp ground.

Select from the following: A. Buckhorn Springs, B. Two other springs
Click on the thumbnails to see higher-resolution images, 720 x 480 pixels.


Conifer forest along Buckhorn Springs road

Two pine cones: Jeffrey pine (Pinus Jeffreyi)
and Sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana)

Grinnell's penstemon (Penstemon grinnellii),
often frequented by beetles


Many-flowered monkeyflower (Mimulus
), likes damp places, flowers <5mm

Downy monkeyflower (Mimulus pilosus), about the smallest of the monkey flowers, found in damp places


Mojave lianthus (Linanthus breviculus)

Volcanic gilia (Gilia ochroleuca)

Indian milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa),
at right with many insects

Golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), at right with Nelson's Hairstreak butterfly

Smoothleaf yerba santa (Eriodictyon trichocalyx var. trichocalyx), five views with insects: (1) and (2) Nelson's Hairstreak butterfly, (3) Elegant sheep moth, (4) various insects, (5) California bumblebee and beetles

Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica ssp. californica)

Parish's umbrellawort (Tauschia parishii)

Silky lupine (Lupinus elatus)

Greenleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula)

Pussypaws (Calyptridium monospermum)

Snow bush (Ceanothus cordulatus) in fruit

Naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum)

Main spring, green but no water flow

Near the main spring

Two views of Bear Canyon (North Fork of San Gabriel River) from the ridge top

Catalina Is. and L.A. from Angeles Crest Hwy

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— and Buckhorn campground

Winston Spring

Winston Spring

Lemon lily (Lilium parryi)
growing in very wet ground

.Streambank Bird's Foot Trefoil (Lotus oblongifolius var. oblongifolius)

Sticky cinquefoil (Potentilla glandulosa ssp. reflexa)

Cortelyou Spring

Cortelyou Spring, with scarlet monkeyflower

Urn-flowered alumroot (Heuchera elegans)

Granite prickly phlox (Leptodactylon pungens)

Scarlet monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis)

Fragrant Shooting Star (Dodecathion redolens)

Parish's oxytheca (Oxytheca parishii var. parishii)

Rock formations above the spring


Buckhorn campground, and Angeles Crest Highway

Incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum var. pubescens)

Broad-leaved lupine (Lupinus latifolius)

Musk monkeyflower (Mimulus moschatus)

Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

Pinedrops (Pterospora andromedea)

Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea), Buckhorn

Just west of Islip Saddle: Giant blazing star (Mentzelia laevicaulis) and Bear Canyon

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Images copyright © 2008-2009 Mary and Graham Bothwell.
Thanks to Jane Strong for assistance in identification of plants and flowers.