California is the country's top producer of peaches and plums, along with almonds, citrus and other fruit. Before all this luscious fruit ripens and end 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.
In Fresno County, the orchards are so beautiful that the local visitors' bureau has organized a driving tour through them called the Fresno Blossom Trail.
See It Now: Fresno Blossom Trail Photo Tour
When to Visit the Fresno Blossom Trail
The hardest thing about taking the Fresno Blossom Trail is knowing exactly when to go. Depending on the temperature and precipitation, blossom season begins sometime between late February and mid-March. Use the Blossom Trail website for this season's information. If you're the old-fashioned type, mark your calendar to start in mid-February. Every week, they post photographs taken along the Blossom Trail, and you can get a good idea of how things are going from that.
Touring the Fresno Blossom Trail
Along the trail, you'll see pink peach and nectarine blooms, white plum, almond and apple blossoms. Local orange groves bloom around the same time, and while orange blossoms don't look as spectacular, their perfume is heavenly.
You won't find a lot of places to stop along the Blossom Trail, other than to pull off the roadside to enjoy the beauty, take photographs and smell the flowers, so you may want to bring along a picnic lunch. There's a nice little turnoff beside the Kings River near Minkler that's a perfect spot.
Allow several hours to drive the whole trail after you get off 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.
Getting to the Fresno Blossom Trail
Signs like the one pictured are designed to help you keep on track. Unfortunately, on a recent visit we found a lot of the direction signs missing. If we hadn't had a map, we might have ended up in Bakersfield instead. To make sure that doesn't happen to you, get a map before you go or stop in the Visitor's Center in Downtown Fresno and pick one up.
Traveling from the north, exit CA Hwy 99 at Jensen and follow the loop drive on the map. Coming from the south, exit CA Hwy 99 at Kingsburg.