Every wilderness has its spring signature ― that one piece of flora whose appearance seems to sum up the flipping of the seasonal switch.
Bright orange poppies blanket Big Sur, California. Yellow balsamroot runs rampant in Washington's Columbia Gorge. And now through May, on Oregon's south coast, it's all about the wild iris: Purple-blue wisps of native Douglas iris blossom, unfurling on stems a foot or two tall.
Wild iris just so happens to bloom in all of the prettiest places along a rugged strip of the Pacific, stretching from Port Orford's rocky, windswept headlands to wooded paths leading to pocket beaches. Come say hello.
ON THE IRIS TRAIL: HIKE, PICNIC, AND STAY OVERNIGHT
Cape Blanco State Park
Home to the oldest operating lighthouse in Oregon, Cape Blanco also hosts plenty of purple iris. Part of the Oregon Coast Trail passes through this area. Follow it from the lighthouse to the crescent of beach 0.25 mile below. Return as you came, or stroll along the sand 1.25 miles north to the Sixes River before meandering back on a trail through a pasture and on to the road. INFO: From U.S. 101, turn west at the sign to Cape Blanco State Park, 4 miles north of Port Orford, and continue 5.5 miles to the lighthouse parking area; 800/551-6949.
Picnic among the irises The Sixes River winds lazily below the flower-strewn hillsides at Cape Blanco; weathered picnic tables are scattered along
the river's grassy banks. Choose a sunny spot, or shelter from the wind beneath a tree.