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Monday, July 16, 2007

Solano County: Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve

20070102 Lake Berryessa
Lake Berryessa from Blue Ridge

I know there must be lots of great trails to hike nearby that are not listed in any of my several hiking books. In order to find these trails I sometimes study maps for promising looking areas, and then search for information about potential discoveries online. That's exactly how I found the description of this short and handy trail on the Yolohiker website. I set off to hike it with my friend Erik.

The trail starts on land owned by the University of California and continues onto BLM land. The trailhead is just to the east of the dam for Lake Berryessa on winding CA 128 midway between Napa and Winters. We parked on the north side of the highway, the opposite side of the trailhead, and carefully crossed the road. You can start from one of two gates for this loop hike--on the east side of the creek bed, as we did, or on the west side. Dogs are allowed for part of the trail on west side, but not on the east.

We followed the trail south down the canyon next to the creek bed. Even though it was rainy season, the creek was not in continuous flow. There were pools of water, and evidence of previous flow between them. I would imagine that much of the year the creek bed is bone dry.

We hiked down past the old foundations of a house that are marked on the map available from Yolohiker, and soon afterward started climbing up to Blue Ridge. Most all of the climbing in the hike is accomplished in a short distance. There were lots of stairs connecting portions of trail on an incline. It was more intense than I was expecting from a hike with modest overall elevation change (1500 feet). Erik was lagging behind me on the climb, which gave me a good excuse to stop and catch my breath frequently.

Finally we were on Blue Ridge, and it definitely is a ridge, with steep drop offs and nice views to each side. The trail on this ridge is not so smooth--often times we were crawling over large boulders. To the north were excellent aerial views of Lake Berryessa, definitely the highlight of the hike.

We hiked all the way north along the ridge until it was time to descend. The descent was very steep at first, so much so that footing was sometimes difficult. Then we came across a prison crew in orange jumpsuits working on the trail. They were building switchbacks to replace this excessively steep portion of trail. I nodded and smiled at one of the prisoners as I would to a fellow hiker. He just stared at me in a way that was unsettling.

Then we got to the part of the trail they had already completed and had an easier time following the gentler grade of the switchbacks. It didn't take us much time to get back to the car, after which we drove up the road a little ways to stop and view the dam before returning to Sacramento.

Hike Summary

Date: 2 January 2007
Approximate distance: 4 miles
Links: Hike description from Yolohiker.

1 comment:

brthomas said...

I agree that it is a great trail. We went hiking at Cold Canyon on 10april2010 and found loads of wildflowers. Cold Canyon trip report & hiking map. Cold Canyon wildflower & landscape photos.

About Me

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I love to learn about, visit, photograph, research, and write about everything that is interesting, unique, and historical about Northern California, and wherever else I should be fortunate enough to find myself.  I've spent many years scouring the roadside in my little car for interesting subjects and walking down hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada and along the coast to get to know the wonder that is Northern California.  I share most of this via photos on Flickr, and as much as time permits me to on my blog, the NorCal Explorer.  Fine art prints of my photos are for sale on Imagekind.