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.

Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve will remain closed until Spring 2016. Winter rains will likely do more damage to the bare slopes above the trail. Significant trail restoration will be necessary in the coming months. There are also plans to make improvements to the parking areas along the highway. Anyone who has tried to park at the trailhead on a busy Saturday will know that such improvements are overdue.

Please respect the closure and do not visit this site without prior approval. For additional information or to sign up for a guided hike, visit the UC Davis NRS website for Stebbins Cold Canyon.

The following photos were all taken on the trail between the main entrance and the old homestead site.

Photo taken from the trailhead where the porta-potty once stood.
At the trailhead where the porta-potty once stood.
The sign melted but the brochures inside the little box were still intact.
The sign melted but the brochures inside the little box were still intact.
The sign-in sheet did not make it.
The sign-in sheet did not make it.
Singed oak leafs.
Singed oak leafs.
Singed trail marker.
Singed trail marker.

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The little interpretive trail markers are fiberglass. This one melted.
The little trail markers are made of fiberglass.
The creek had a lot of mud in it from last week's thunderstorms.
The creek had a lot of mud in it from last week’s thunderstorms.

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Heading back out from the homestead site. The canyon is much more open now.
Heading back out from the homestead site. The canyon is much more open now.
Things will get ugly on some of these slopes if El Niño shows up this year.
Things will get ugly on some of these slopes if El Niño shows up this year.

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3 thoughts on “Stebbins Cold Canyon after the Wragg Fire”

  1. That is gnarly, thanks for the update! I still find it humbling that I ran the loop plus Annie’s trail the Sunday before the fire. Great site, very thorough and helpful!

    1. Thanks Nilo! We had plans to hike there the week before it burned, but instead I slept in! If only I hadn’t been so lazy. I’m definitely looking forward the trail reopening.

  2. Most of the lands on the ridges are BLM and Reclamation’s rather than UC system. Only a relatively small portion in the valley of Cold Canyon is UCNR. UC has no jurisdiction on the remainder of the land. It is easier to walk up the hills from Lake Berryessa pullouts on Highway 128 anyway.

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