New Year’s Day Hike: Fiske Peak

It’s becoming our annual tradition to hike on New Year’s Day. Spending time in the outdoors is a great way to start off a new year. (Though really, when is it not a great time to get outside and hike?)

Basics: The hike to the top of Fiske Peak is about 4 miles (8 miles roundtrip) with 2000+ feet of climbing.  It’s not easy, but the views are worth it.  The trail is dog friendly and best visited in the winter when it’s not too hot.  The trailhead is only about an hour drive from Davis, making it one of the closer options for steep terrain (but with far fewer people than the extremely popular Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve).  There are pit toilets at the parking area.

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Directions to Trailhead:  The trailhead is located at the lower site of Cache Creek Canyon Regional Park.  From the Capay Valley, continue north on Highway 16.  The road narrows as it leaves the valley and begins to curve through the canyon.  The parking area will be on the left side, 5 miles past the town of Rumsey, CA.  Google Map link to trailhead.

Red Tape:  In the past when we’ve hiked here, we’ve always paid the $6 parking fee.  The fee has not changed, but on this visit we noticed that the iron ranger was completely disassembled.  There wasn’t really a good way to pay the fee, so we didn’t bother.

Note: GPS based distance is approximate. Download gpx of this routeDownload kml of this route.

Trail Description:  We’ve hiked and written a post about Fiske Peak before.  I wouldn’t normally repost a trail, but it’s been a few years and our last description lacked some details.  I’m also reposting this because I think more people should hike here.  Stebbins Cold Canyon is becoming so heavily impacted with hikers; this trail is a bit further away (20-30 minutes more) but it really is a good alternative.

This time around, the hike  was a little more difficult than I remember. The mileage is very doable, but the trail climbs steeply up 2000+ ft. I was fighting a cold (yes, blaming the cold), so I really struggled.

We got a late start; arriving at the trailhead around noon. The trail begins on the eastern side of the parking area.  In the first half mile or so, the route descends to a bridge crossing Cache Creek, then climbs to the left and follows the dirt road alongside the creek.

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After following the creek for a short distance, the Blue Ridge Trail splits off to the right.  It is clearly marked with multiple signs.

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Navigating this hike is very easy: the trail winds in and out of a few canyons, then traverses around the side of Blue Ridge, follows a few switchbacks up to the top of the ridge, and eventually reaches the summit. There are no other trails or junctions, so it’s virtually impossible to get lost.

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About half of the hike was in the shade, but everyone stayed warm while moving up the consistently steep grade.

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The last half mile of trail follows the top of Blue Ridge – snaking through chaparral until it reaches the summit.  We had sweeping views in all directions.  It took just over two hours for us to reach the top.  An icy wind kept us shivering as we sat and ate lunch. We could see snowy peaks- the Sierra to the east, Lassen and a faint outline of Shasta to the north, and Snow Mountain to the northwest.

Rob sitting somewhere below the summit; trying to find shelter from the ice wind.
Rob sitting somewhere below the summit; trying to find shelter from the ice wind.

Though we hadn’t seen any other people on our hike up, we came across half a dozen people on or around the summit. It was nice to see we weren’t the only ones enjoying the outdoors on this holiday.  After a quick lunch, we headed down.  Everyone was thoroughly chilled; we were halfway back to the car by the time we warmed up.  We made it back with plenty of daylight to spare.  The round trip hike took about 4 hours.

We found a frozen waterfall near the top of Blue Ridge.
We found a frozen waterfall near the top of Blue Ridge (photographed on the way down).
A great view of Glascock Mountain on our way down.
A view of Glascock Mountain on our way down.

3 thoughts on “New Year’s Day Hike: Fiske Peak”

    1. Enjoyed your nice photos and report. The Sierra (not sierras) is one mountain range. The Sierra Nevada is Spanish for “snowy range”. The California Miwok named it “Kayopha — the sky and the peaks that touch it”. John Muir called it “The Range of Light”. Thanks.

Any thoughts?