Stebbins Cold Canyon after the Wragg Fire

On a Wednesday afternoon last July, I had just gotten home from work when I noticed the sky to the west was filled with smoke. It didn’t take long to figure out that this was a wildfire somewhere near Lake Berryessa. The Wragg Fire would go on to burn more than 8000 acres in Napa and Solano Counties, including most of the Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve. We’ve been hiking the trails in and around this area for several years, so we’ve become quite familiar with Cold Canyon. Today we had the opportunity to go behind the gates and see some of the fire damage. Continue reading “Stebbins Cold Canyon after the Wragg Fire”

Smittle Creek Trail

Smittle Creek might be the least exciting hike we’ve gone on this year. I think it has the potential to be really nice – if Lake Berryessa had more water in it and if the hills were green, things would look very different. Nevertheless, with Stebbins Cold Canyon still closed to the public after the Wragg Fire, we’ve been driving a little further to find new trails. Despite the somewhat drab landscape, I actually really enjoyed this trip. The soft dirt trail is perfect for running. We also found it to be incredibly quiet and peaceful: very few people visit Lake Berryessa this time of year. Continue reading “Smittle Creek Trail”

Kings Creek Falls Trail

A waterfall hike might not be the first thing that comes to mind in the midst of a severe drought. Nevertheless, after hiking the Lassen Peak Trail, we decided to check out the nearby Kings Creek Falls and upper cascades.  We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of water in Kings Creek. Continue reading “Kings Creek Falls Trail”

Hiking Lassen Peak

Lassen Peak (10,457′)  is the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade Range.  It last erupted 100 years ago in 1915.  Despite spewing volcanic ash as far as 200 miles away, this most recent eruption is considered very small.  Fortunately for us, volcanoes don’t explode without warning and the USGS now monitors Lassen very closely.  The trail to the top of the peak is one of the more popular hikes in the park.  Most of the trail is above tree-line and the views are stunning. Continue reading “Hiking Lassen Peak”

Red Lake Peak

On this day in 1844, John C. Fremont and Charles Preuss summited Red Lake Peak. It wasn’t a particularly impressive climb, or circumstance; it was however the first documentation of an identifiable peak climbed in the Sierra. Surely many people climbed peaks before this, but since this blog is a place where we document climbs of peaks (and other hikes), the 171st anniversary of the first documented peak climb seems significant.  In any case, repeating this climb seemed like the best possible way to spend a Valentine’s Day. Continue reading “Red Lake Peak”

Pleasants Ridge – Putah Creek Wildlife Area

Pleasants Ridge is one of those trails I’ve passed by and ignored on many occasions.  We are frequent visitors to the Stebbins Cold Canyon Loop, but we rarely branch out to any of the other trails in the area. The Pleasants Ridge hike starts at the same trailhead – just off of Highway 128 in the Putah Creek Wildlife Area. Roundtrip distance is about 2 or 3 miles, depending on how far you want to go. We followed the trail to the end of the ridge. The last half mile or so is very overgrown and does not see a lot of visitors. Continue reading “Pleasants Ridge – Putah Creek Wildlife Area”

Artist Point from Bridalveil Fall Trailhead


I feel like I shouldn’t be writing about this hike. Hiking in California can be so crowded sometimes, especially in a place like Yosemite. It’s great that so many people can come see this natural wonder in our backyard, but sometimes it would be nice if the trails weren’t so busy. When you discover a trail with as much solitude as this one, it’s tempting to keep it to yourself. On the one hand, this trail isn’t a big secret – you can actually see it from the highway. And as far as my feelings on crowds go, I’m just lucky to have such easy access to an amazing place that many people travel halfway around the world to see.

Continue reading “Artist Point from Bridalveil Fall Trailhead”

Schulman Grove Loop – Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest


This 4 mile loop snakes through one of several bristlecone pine groves in the White Mountains of California.  The bristlecones are the oldest living trees (and the oldest living anything) on earth!  This trail is pretty far “out there,” but these trees are incredible and definitely worth a visit.  The hike itself is at 9,500 to 10,500-ft elevation and has several hundred feet of up and down.  There is a visitor center at the trailhead.  There is also an option for a shorter 1 mile loop with equally spectacular views of the ancient bristlecones. Continue reading “Schulman Grove Loop – Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest”