This area begins about 1.5 miles from the center of Columbia along both sides of Italian Bar road. After the first mile or two the road becomes dirt and gravel with the surface (as of April 2007) smooth enough for a regular sedan to travel without danger of dragging. You continue until the bottom of the canyon where the road is very near the South fork of the Stanislaus River. It is here that you can find the rare Tuolumne Fawn Lily (the end of March to the first week of April is a good time to see these blooms.) There are spots where the road is wide enough to pull over and get out to check on spots on the drive to the bottom. You will be rewarded with potentially 90+ different species in the area that depending on the time of the year that you visit will be blooming. If you have the time, this road will continue all the way to Twain Harte and wind its way through parts of the Stanislaus National Forest. Plan on 3-4 hours if you decide to make the complete circuit. In a normal weather year the blooming period begins typically in early March and continues until about the end of May with a few species that are earlier bloomers and several that are relatively later in blooming after the area has gotten quite dry (early to mid summer).
(Last revised 4/03/07)