In a remote place called Volcano in the Sierra foothills, Mother Nature every year magically lays out a thick carpet of golden yellow made even more vivid by spring’s solid sunshine.
The bright yellow hue interspersed with the fresh green foliage of scattered plant and tree varieties just waking up from their winter hibernation in this high-elevation point in paradise aptly called Daffodil Hill.
The visual feast comes not from just a few hundred or thousands of blooming daffodils. Not even tens of thousands of bulbs, but hundreds of thousands of these harbingers of spring.
The last time my eyes had their fill of rows upon rows, and clusters upon clusters of daffodils dancing in the light breeze, there were probably a lot less of them on the undulating grounds of the private property whose generous owners have shared these vibrant views to the public for several generations. Today, Daffodil Hill is home to approximately 300,000 bulbs when in bloom. Descendants of Arthur McLaughlin and wife “Lizzie” van Vorst-McLaughlin who purchased the ranch in 1877 after arriving in California from New York and Ohio, have, in the past several years, have added an average 16,000 bulbs a year to the acreage.
In the couple of trips I’ve taken to this rustic Yellow Eden in the California Gold Country, I was very pleasantly treated – visually and photographically – to the sights of weather-beaten wood fences, the ranch’s original 1880s barn, wagon wheels, Gold Rush-era mining equipment and antique farming implements strategically scattered throughout the area along the meandering trails, as well as the sounds of spring birds and the sight of chickens and other feathered friends. There are plenty of places to sit for a spell, admire the golden views and commune with nature. Good news to visitors like my husband’s grandparents who were with us at our last visit several years ago. Pets are understandably discouraged on the main grounds given the delicate nature of the blossoms, but canes for walking are okay.
Do you have a camera? Don’t leave home without it when visiting Daffodil Hill. Your cell phone camera will do, too, of course.
Visiting hours and other details
Due to the nature of the main attraction at Daffodil Hill, this viewing destination is open only for a limited time in the spring. It opens this weekend, March 15, this year. The blossoms usually last through the first weeks of April, so the earlier you get there, the better your chances of enjoying Daffodil Hill at its best. The only exceptions are the times when the weather is inclement, in which case, the place is completely closed during or immediately after that. To make sure it’s open, always call Daffodil Hill ahead of time at 209.296.7048 before you go. Otherwise, the place is open seven days a week during the blooming season from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One of the best things about visiting Daffodil Hill is that admission and parking are free; however, donations are accepted to help the family plant new bulbs for the following year.
How to get there
From Sutter Creek in Amador County, the trip to Volcano and Daffodil Hill is 12 miles. Sutter Creek is on Highway 49 in Amador County. From Manteca, take Highway 99 heading out to Stockton and take the Highway 88 turnoff to Sutter Creek. From Main Street in Sutter Creek (Old Highway 49), turn east on Gopher Flat Road, drive approximately 3 miles and turn left at the third stop sign which is Shake Ridge Road, then proceed 9 miles to Rams Horn Grade, and you’re there. Parking is to the left.