Stebbins Cold Canyon serves as a great training hike for peak baggers who live near Sacramento or San Francisco. It’s a nearby short-and-sweet, albeit thigh-burning trail in Winters that offers views of Lake Berryessa from the ridgeline. Although only about a 5-mile loop, the elevation gain is a rugged 1,500 feet.
The way Telegraph Hiking Club likes to hit it is as a sunset hike. Berryessa Brewing Co. is on our route there from Sacramento, so we make a pit stop to pick up growlers of IPA that pair nicely with the sunset. It’s the perfect spot to meet up with the crew, too.
Be sure to pack a lot of water—although there is shade on much of the trail, it gets annoyingly hot and sweaty out there. You’ll also need a headlamp for hiking after dark.
Start at the silver gate in the driveway just off CA-128, in UC Davis’ natural reserve. Follow the trail going straight beyond the gate. You’ll arrive at an old homestead about a mile in. The foundation is still there, and it’s fun to explore and take a break in the shade. From there, take the trail up toward Blue Ridge. You’ll pass thick chaparral and sweeping views of the canyon once you ascend beyond the forest and begin to traverse the ridge. Watch out for poison oak along the way.
On the ridgeline, you’ll find a large, flat granite outcropping that offers the perfect place to take in the sunset over Lake Berryessa and the canyon below. Time to crack those growlers!
Once you’ve had your fill of panoramas and beer, you’ll continue on the loop back down the canyon. As the day grows dim, you’ll bust out your headlamp as you descend into the eerie forest and reluctantly back to the trailhead.