Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hiking Stebbins Cold Canyon Blue Ridge Loop Trail

Hiking Stebbins Cold Canyon Blue Ridge Loop Trail
Now that AYSO soccer is over for the boys, we finally had a free Saturday. It had been a while since we hiked, so we figured we'd get one in with the fam again. We decided on hiking at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve on the Blue Ridge Trail. I had done part of the trail before but never the full loop. It turned out to be another great family adventure.

Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve is about a 40 minute drive from Davis. I love that it is a close hike, by close I mean less than an hour drive. :) There is a good size parking area at the trail head and there is a porta potty in case you need to use the facilities. 
Stebbins Cold Canyon trailhead
At the parking lot is this kiosk that layed out the trail rules and ways to stay safe. One of the rules is no dogs in Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve however I was surprised to see people not follow it. We saw many dogs with their owners hiking the trail.  
Stebbins Cold Canyon trailhead
It is a popular hike and when we got there many others were there too. Some were a bit confused as to which way the trail went only because I think they parked in the old parking area. I believe the trail has changed since the fire that closed the trail down last year. Anyway, there are signs telling you where the trail goes and we did not have any problems. 

It was neat going into this tunnel. The boys really enjoyed that part.
tunnel Stebbins Cold Canyon

From the parking area (labeled P on the map), we followed the Blue Ridge Loop trail shown in orange. It is the strenuous way up. 

There is a gain of 1300 feet in about a mile and a half.
hiking Stebbins Cold Canyon
The elevation gain to me was pretty gradual, I'm just saying that it wasn't straight up the whole time. There are some flat areas and then it climbs. The boys did great. 
hiking Stebbins Cold Canyon
At around 1.15 miles we went off on an unmarked trail to a nice viewing spot labeled Top of the World.
There was some scrambling involved that the boys enjoyed to get to the cool viewing spot.
scrambling to top of the world
 Hubby and the boys with Lake Berryessa behind them.
 You can see the Monticello Dam from there as well.
Monticello Dam from Top of the World viewpoint
After a quick snack, we headed back to the main trail and up to the top. It is about 1.5 miles from the parking lot to the top. There were lots of people eating their lunches in the nice viewing area, but we figured we would stop elsewhere with less people but we did get this pic of me and the boys before hiking on. 
We continued on the Blue Ridge Loop Trail and hiked up what seemed like a little mountain that was somewhat steep and found this nice spot on the rocks to have lunch. The boys were happy to stop and eat their lunches. :)
Happy hikers
The views were awesome and I had to get this shot of what we were looking at so I headed down and Hubby snapped this shot from our lunch spot.
View of Lake Berryessa on the Blue Ridge Loop Trail
After lunch, we continued on and I was excited to see the ridge. Hubby and I love hiking ridges. Doesn't it look awesome?
Blue Ridge Loop Trail
It was a great ridge and we climbed another mini mountain and then down again. Below is a pic of one of the mini mountains or I guess you can say big hill. Hubby and 5 year old are in the pic but they are hard to see.
At one of our breaks I realized we did not get a family pic so I set the camera down and got this shot. :)
You can add more to your hike once you get to this junction. You can head to Annie's trail/Tuleyome Loop or the Homestead Trail to continue back to the car. We did not need to add more miles so we continued hiking on the Homestead trail.
Tuleyome / Homestead trail junction
It was pretty much all downhill from the sign. There are lots of wooden steps on this part of the trail. We were kind of glad that we did not go up this way as I am pretty sure the boys would have complained and you do not get the good views like we did going up the other way. A plus of this part of the trail was that you were in the shade. 
Steps on the Homestead trail
On the way down we came across this hanging branch from a tree that resembles a rope. The boys loved swinging back and forth on it. They enjoyed pretending they were Tarzan. On the Homestead trail there is also an abandoned homestead site and some ruins but we seemed to miss that section. I guess that is something to look for next time we go.
Homestead trail hanging branch
7 year old had so much energy after swinging that we ran down pretty much the whole way to the car. He is speedy but it was fun for me and I was glad I wore my trail running shoes! Overall, the hike was awesome. Total mileage according to my Garmin was 5.1 miles and that includes going off trail to the Top of the World. The hike is a great workout with great views of Lake Berryessa and I really enjoyed hiking the ridge. I asked the kids what their favorite parts of the trail were and they said the tunnel and swinging on the branch. :) I'll take that. They did awesome and I am just glad they had fun.

Happy hiking!

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