Stebbins Cold Canyon Trail
How to Get There
From Yolo county, Woodland and Davis, take Highway 128 up through Winters toward Lake Berryessa. After you pass through Winters, it doesn’t take long before you start to drive into the hills. You will pass Lake Solano on your left, as you go up the canyon. Lake Solano is formed by the diversion dam which shunts water into Solano County. The stretch of water above the lake and below Monticello Dam has some world class trout fishing. In fact, Putah Creek and Lake Solano are designated “Wild Trout Waters” by the State of California. The water is clear and cold, as it comes from the bottom of Lake Berryessa.
After you pass by the five Yolo County fishing access areas, the road will bend to the left. When you reach it, cross the bridge over Putah Creek, into Solano County. In the past, you would go up to the dirt pull out on the right side of the road just before you get to the Monticello Dam and the road begins a sharp turn. Now there is a new entrance: On the right, immediately after crossing the bridge over Putah Creek (about 200 feet from the bridge), there is a short gravel road that leads to a parking lot. Park your vehicle here. At the south end of the parking lot is a trail that leads through culverts under Highway 128. Once through the culverts, follow the trail up the bank to the left – this leads you to the Cold Canyon Loop and Annie’s Trail.
The Hike Itself
Four different hikes, including the Annie’s Trail hike, emanate from the starting point described above. Three of the hikes are listed below. Annie’s Trail has its own page.
It depends on what hike you want to do…
Hike #1, The Homestead Hike, 2 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 520 feet.
The primary attraction of this area is the University of California’s natural reserve. The hike into the reserve is straight up the canyon, and ends at the old homestead. You start after the silver gate, and follow the trail going straight. This will take you around the bend, and you will see a large field of boulders. There was a huge landslide in the winter of 1995 after which the area was completely barren. It has been fun to watch the area regenerate over the past few years, and you can see the early successional plants starting to take hold. Look for Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis), Redbud (Cercis canadensis), and Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum) on the slide area. After you pass through the slide area, you will see the reserve entrance sign and a sign-in box. Be sure to sign in before you take the hike.
The hike will take you up the canyon, paralleling the creek the entire way. At several points there will be places to go to the creek, so be sure to take the opportunity. The water is cool most of the year! When you reach the old homestead, be sure to follow the trail back to the old cold storage house. If you look in the creek next to the storage house, you may see salamanders and California Newts (Taricha torosa). Be sure to look in the spring/early summer for the little guys. The best time to spot Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) is in the morning after a full moon!
Hike #2, The Blue Ridge Loop Hike, 4.75- mile loop, with a total elevation gain of 1500 feet.
At the end of winter, 2002, UC Davis completed this loop trail. You start out by doing Hike 1, going up the canyon to the homestead. Then take the spur trail from the homestead up to Blue Ridge. Continue north along Blue Ridge until you get to the end of the ridge. The trail will then head back down to the canyon to the trailhead. You can, of course, do this trail in reverse, and head up the west side to begin with. It is much steeper uphill, however.
At the north end of blue ridge, as you head back down the canyon, make sure to go out to the rock outcropping to the north. This rock outcropping gives you a great bird’s eye view of the Monticello Dam, Lake Berryessa, and Putah Creek. When the Spillway is overflowing at the Dam, it looks like there is a great hole in the lake! Go near the end of Winter to see this.
Hike #3, The Pleasant Ridge Hike, 0.5 mile to the top of the ridge, with an elevation gain of 1040 feet. Yes, this is steep!
This hike goes up the east side of the canyon, up a steep slope through blue oak woodland and grassland. It offers great views of Cold Canyon as you hike up, and terminates at a rock outcropping on the ridge. The ridge is spectacular, and is a real knife-edge. Great views of the Putah Creek wildlife area and the valley can be seen from here.
- Fitness: difficult
- Visible Signage:
- Mountain Biking:
- Overnight Camping: