Pine Hill is one of the prime botanical areas in the central Sierran foothills, displaying in a relatively small area three distinct biotic communities as well as several endemic species.
The flannel bush, Fremontodendron californicum ssp. decumbens, distinguished by its peculiar habit of low growth and by its orange to red flowers, is found only on Pine Hill. A race of bedstraw, Galium californicum ssp. sierrae, is also confined to the hill. Here, too, is the type locality of Ceanothus roderickii, a prostrate form with pale blue flowers. Though similar to Ceanothus fresnensis this species probably represents a race which is distinctive to El Dorado County. It is restricted to this area and a few nearby localities. Another species which is confined to this area and to a few others in the County is Wyethia reticulata. Here there is a particularly fine stand, and during the summer blooming season this plant is one of the most conspicuous on the hill. There are several other species here which, though found in other localities in the Sierra, are not found elsewhere in the County.
The south side of the hill is covered by chaparral. On the higher elevations on the north side there is a pine forest, with Pinus ponderosa and Pinus sabiniana, and lower down there is an oak-grassland association.
From the lookout station, atop the hill at 627 meters (2,056 ft.), there is a fine view of the Sacramento Valley. Geologically the hill is primarily gabbro and diorite of the upper Jurassic period and is related to rocks found 610 meters (2,000 ft.) higher, 16 km. (10 miles) to the east in the Sierra.
Integrity: There is a lookout station atop the hill and an access road. A firebreak destroyed much of old growth Fremontodendron several years ago; however, the plant is making a comeback.
Use: Pine Hill is managed by the California State Division of Forestry as a natural area, and is used by various educational institute.
Ref: Gankin, Roman, 1969. The Pine Hill Disaster. California Native Plant Society Newsletter, Vol. V, No. 3 (August) p. 7-8.
Inventory of California Natural Areas
Revision © 2008 Steven Louis Hartman