How to See California's Fresno Blossom Trail

  • 01 of 04

    Spring Blossoms on the Fresno Blossom Trail

    All in One Shot on the Fresno Blossom Trail
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Set aside any mental images you may have of California's Central Valley. Replace them with dreamlike expanses of trees covered with pink and white blossoms so dense you can barely see the tree limbs they grow on, creating showers of falling petals.

    You can see all that by taking a drive on the Fresno Blossom Trail. It's a do-it-yourself guided drive through fruit orchards during the spring bloom. 

    The scenic drive may look like a tourist attraction to you, but it's also an essential part of California's agricultural industry. The state is the country's top producer of peaches, and plums and related fruits, along with almonds and citrus. Before all this luscious fruit ripens and ends up on our tables, the orchards put on an annual display of spring blossoms that are just as much of a treat for the eyes as their fruits are to the palate.

    The picture above is like a sampler of what you will see: Yellow mustard flowers, pink-blooming fruit trees, white-blooming fruit trees - and in the distance, you can see not only the sky but also the foothills of the Sierras.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    When to Visit the Fresno Blossom Trail

    Peach Blossoms Close Up
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    You can tell this flower is a peach because it's pink. The photographer knew it was because the sign in the orchard said so. More than 100 varieties of peaches grow along the trail, and they're ripe from May through October.

    When to Visit the Fresno Blossom Trail

    The hardest thing about enjoying the Fresno Blossom Trail is knowing when to go. Some years are better than others, and the bloom dates vary depending on temperature and rainfall.

    Blossom season typically begins between mid-February and mid-March. Use the Blossom Trail website for this season's information. Every week, they post photographs taken along the Blossom Trail, and you can get a good idea of how things are going from that.

    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Touring the Fresno Blossom Trail

    Orchard in Pink
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    One of the most lovely things about the Blossom Trail is the vast expanses of same-colored blossoms. This view into an orchard full of pink blooms gives an idea of the effect.

    Along the trail, you'll see pink peach and nectarine blooms. The white ones are plums, almonds, and apples. Local orange groves bloom around the same time. The orange blossoms may not look as spectacular, but their perfume is heavenly.

    Tips for the Fresno Blossom Trail

    You won't find a lot of formal places to stop along the Blossom Trail, but you can pull off the roadside in many places to enjoy the beauty, take photographs and smell the flowers.

    You won't find places to eat, either, so you may want to bring along a picnic lunch. There's a nice little turn off next to the Kings River near Minkler that's a perfect picnic spot.

    Allow several hours to drive the whole trail after you get off California Highway 99. From San Francisco, Sacramento or San Jose, you can see the Fresno Blossom Trail as a day trip.

    While you're in Fresno, it's well worth a stop to see fruit trees growing in a very different setting at the Forestiere Underground Gardens.

    If you drive through the same area in the summer, you'll find roadside produce stands where you can buy tree-ripened fruits.

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    What You Need to Know About the Fresno Blossom Trail

    Snowy Orchard View
    ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    The picture above is a typical scene from the Trail. This one was taken early in the blossom season before the petals began to coat the ground with white, and chickens were clucking and crowing away in the farmyard nearby. All the white almost looks like snow.

    How to Keep from Getting Lost on the Fresno Blossom Trail

    Traveling from the north, Exit California Highway 99 at Jensen and follow the loop drive on the map. Coming from the south, Exit California Highway 99 at Kingsburg.

    Signs are posted along the route to help you keep on track. Unfortunately, they're so cute that they are often stolen. As a result, you could miss a turn and end up in Bakersfield instead.

    To make sure that doesn't happen to you, get a map.

    You can stop at the Visitor's Center in Downtown Fresno (1180 E Shaw Ave #201) to pick up a paper map.

    The Fresno Blossom Trail website also has a map, but it's not to scale, and it may not print well enough that you can read the street names. Use this Google map to see the route instead.

    If you enjoyed this, you might also like to find more places to see California wildflowers