Since my post from February 28th, a little over a week ago, there's been a poppy explosion in the Merced River Canyon. The acreage in bloom has probably tripled. Most are still in the burned area across the river from Highway 140, two to three miles east of Briceburg, where the flowers now reach to the tops of the ridges, but "Grandy's Hill," a bit further east on the highway side of the river, is blazing.
The vantage points looking across the river from the Highway are actually quite good. It's possible to hike east from Briceburg to be on the poppy side of the river, but you'd have to climb up very steep hillsides to be among the flowers and get a decent view. Grandy's Hill and most of the other poppy spots also require steep climbs for a close-up view. While these hills aren't so steep that you'll die if you fall (at least not in most places), you could easily slip and break and ankle, so don't attempt this if you're not agile and sure-footed. The one place where you can reach poppies easily is the beginning of the Hite's Cove trail.
I made the accompanying photo of poppies and popcorn flowers on one of those steep hillsides yesterday. I used a 200mm lens to compress the space and create a pattern out of the bands of color.