These invigorating waterside walks welcome spring in living color.
Writers: Larry Bleiberg & Allen Bunting
1 of 10Photo: Cheadle/Getty Images
Portland Island, British Columbia
Just three miles from shore, visitors find an extensive trail system through the meadows of Portland Island, part of Canada's Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. A four-mile perimeter trail leads past cliffs, coves, sandy beaches, and carpets of blossoms. Two cross-island paths make an easy shortcut.
Insider's tip: The island is reachable only by private boat or rentable kayak from Vancouver Island.
What's growing: native sea blush (the purple blooms shown here), chocolate lilies, fawn lilies, and shooting stars.
What's growing: blue harebell, orange dune lilies, and purple beach pea blossoms
When to go: Saturdays in June, when rangers host free, guided hikes; 231/326-5134 or nps.gov/slbe
4 of 10Courtesy of The Nature Conservancy
Yellow Island, Washington
The most colorful island in the San Juans, this isle owes its name to golden blooms. Most people glimpse the show from a boat, but come visit the 11-acre preserve and see its 50-plus flower species up close.
Insider's tip: Book a charter or kayak tour here from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, or rent your own vessel at Deer Harbor Marina on Orcas.
What's growing: Western buttercups, bluish-purple camas, and paintbrush
When to go: late April/early May; 206/343-4344 or nature.org
5 of 10Courtesy of U.S. National Park Service
Point Reyes National Seashore, California
As if this area weren't pretty enough, each spring it's blanketed with blooms. You'll find nearly a fifth of California's plant species along this park's 80 miles of coastline.
Insider's tip: Hike along Chimney Rock trail (less than 2 miles round-trip) to cliffs overlooking Drakes Bay.
What's growing: Douglas irises, Indian paintbrush, and California poppies
When warm weather finally arives in Alaska, the wildflowers make up for lost time. Find fields thick with blooms against a backdrop of glaciers and mountains at the Carl E. Wynn Nature Center, overlooking Kachemak Bay.
Insider's tip: Bring binoculars; it's a birding hot spot, too.