Location: Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve near Winters, CA
Distance: 5.1 miles. (Note: An additional 2.75 miles is added if completing the Annie’s Trail Loop. The information provided below does not include this loop).
Type: Day-hike; Out-and-back
Permits & Fees: Parking is located off of Highway 128 (Click here for directions). The sign for parking is very small and is easy to miss, so keep an eye out! Parking is free.
Preparation: Shoes with excellent grip, water and sunscreen.
After parking at the trail-head lot, there is a sign that directs to the start of the Homestead-Blue Ridge Loop Trailhead:
After this sign, follow the series of white signs along the creek:
After hiking for about 5 minutes, there is a yellow warning sign where the trail seems to end. I was confused on which direction to go until I realized I needed to walk through the tunnels (pictured below) where the trail continues on the other side. Don’t be alarmed by the tunnels- as long as the water flow is light, it is completely safe:
Once on the other side of the tunnels, the trail continues for another 5 minutes until the “official” trailhead of the Homestead-Blue Ridge Loop is reached:
There are two hiking options from here:
I decided to take the less popular direction (the Blue Ridge Trail) in order to see the view of Lake Berryessa sooner rather than later. The trade-off to seeing the view more quickly means that the climb is much more steep. There are several mile markers that are labeled starting from Mile 5 and proceed backwards if taking the Blue Ridge Loop. Between mile markers 4.75 and 4 is the portion of the hike just before the view that leads up the side of the hill:
After this portion of the hike, Lake Berryessa can be viewed. This is the most beautiful part of the hike:
The view of the lake continues while hiking the “ridge” portion of the trail, which is also breathtaking in it’s own way:
After hiking along the ridge, the trail begins to descend down the side of the hill until Annie’s Loop Trailhead is reached, marked by these signs:
If taking the Homestead Loop, continue in the direction of the “Blue Ridge Loop” sign. If taking the Blue Ridge Loop (like I did), take the sign in the direction of “Homestead Trail” sign. Due to heavy rainfalls in the days prior to hiking, the portion of the trail (mile markers 2-1) was extremely muddy and slippery. There are two series of stairs leading down the hill in particular that were very muddy.
Towards the end of the loop (or beginning, depending on which direction you take) there is a donation box where you can place a donation to help preserve the Reserve:
Continue on the trail until you reach the Homestead-Blue Ridge Loop sign. Continue back to the tunnels. From here, take the same route back to the parking lot.
I can’t believe I did not know about this hike sooner; it is definitely one of my favorite day-hikes!