Hiking, Hiking tips, Life

Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest

In honor of National Wildflower Week (yes, apparently that’s a thing), I hereby present a short guide to my favorite wildflowers. I am as far from an expert that you could possibly get and don’t even own a book on flora, so I’ve learned the names of these from my hiking partners. In other words – if any of these are wrong, blame my friends.

First up, lilies. I love lilies. My absolute favorite flower is the Tiger Lily (left), and I have yet to see one without emitting a high-pitched squeal of joy. These just say SUMMER to me. I’ve only seen the Chocolate Lily (right) once, but look! So cool! So elegant! So named after my favorite food group!

...and even more. Chocolate Lily

The Glacier Lily starts popping up in late spring/early summer depending on the elevation (we saw a bunch of them last week on Sauer’s Mountain) and make quite the impressive display in an alpine setting.

Kyes and Columbia?

Even prettier, the Avalanche Lily! I’ve seen huge fields of these in Spray Park and Summerland on Mount Rainier.

We're pretty

Columbine (left) signals the beginning of summer to me. I usually see these popping up on Poo Poo Point in June, then giddily follow their development as the snow melts in the higher climes. Calypso Orchids (right) can be deceptively hard to spot and a pain in the ass to photograph, but man alive, so pretty. I usually find these east of the crest, but have been surprised by them once or twice on exotic Tiger Mountain.

More columbine Calypso Orchids

Aah, Beargrass. If you ever decide to hike Bandera Mountain (or any other open-sloped trails along I90), do it in late June when it turns into a veritable wonderland of these purdy stalks.


I have a special affinity for Paintbrush since one of our very first hikes (to good old Noble Knob); I remember the trail being lined with beautiful shades of red, and it was one of the moments that made me fall in love with these mountains.

Indian Paintbrush Magenta Paintbrush

Winner of the best smell category: Lupine. I’ll never forget the scent of sun-warmed lupine on the Wonderland Trail. It was like walking through a cloud of perfume, except it was light and airy and not gross (I really hate perfume).

Professor Lupin

Shooting Stars will always remind me of the Teanaway, which automatically puts them on the favorites list. They’re quite easy on the peepers, too.

Shooting stars

A lot of these flowers excite me so much because they symbolize the changing of the seasons, and Trillium is the official herald of spring. When these start popping up in the Issaquah Alps, I know lighter, greener days are coming.

My first trillium of 2012

Another spring favorite – Balsamroot! These flourish east of the crest, and warrant at least one drive across the mountains every April or May for a petal pilgrimage.


Last but not least, my second favorite flower – actually, as far as I can understand, this is when the Western Pasqueflower has gone past the flower stage; these are the seed heads! Also known as Western Anemone, I usually call them fuzzbuckets or hippie heads, especially when there’s a whole flock of them gathered like a miniature Woodstock Festival.

Western Anemone

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  • Reply Melissa May 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Hey Ingunn! I commented back on my post on my blog but I don’t think it notifies or anything haha. So I figured I would send you what I wrote on your blog ;) Not to mention I was just thinking about how I know NOTHING about wildflowers and that I should get one of those pamphlets or something and come to find you posted about them! haha. So thank you! :)

    But anyways, he is what I posted to you below:
    “That’s what I was thinking when I found you! Haha as weird as that sounds! But that is too funny. We decided that our first backpacking trip is going to be the Hoh River Trail through the valley to Mt. Olympus. There is so many trails it’s hard to choose but now that I found your blog I have been looking at your hikes! haha. Do you have one you would suggest for newbies?

    I LOVE all of your photos and your trips. How do you carry your camera and what kind of lense do you use? I feel like I have so many questions haha. ;)”

  • Reply Karen May 8, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Gorgeous photos! My favorite is lupine. I’m a sucker for purple flowers :)

  • Reply Brenna May 31, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Paintbrush and balsamroot are my two favorites! I spotted my first paintbrush of the season a few weeks ago. :)

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