Cache Creek Ridge Trail

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, California

Elevation Gain4,599ft
Trailhead Elevation655ft
Elevation Min/Max635/2172ft
Elevation Start/End655/655ft
Cache Creek Ridge Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Lake County and Colusa County, California. It is within Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument and Cache Creek Wilderness. It is 9.9 miles long and begins at 655 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 19.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,599 feet. The Judge Davis Trail Head Parking is near the trailhead. Along the trail there is a meadow. This trail connects with the following: Cache Creek Ridge To Cache Creek 1.75 Miles, Dunfield Spring Cutoff Trail, Ridge Spur, Connector Trail Between Judge Davis and Cache Creek Ridge, Connector Trail Between Lynch Canyon Trail and Cache Creek Ridge Trail, Brophy Canyon Trail and Cache Creek Ridge - Judge Davis Trail Connector.

Cache Creek Ridge Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Gnarled oaks twist skyward in a rolling landscape flushed green by winter rains. Cache Creek ripples through placid pools, a herd of tule elk wanders the area, and a population of bald eagles winters here. Come for a taste of the lowlying foothills ringing the Great Central Valley."

"Just a few years ago, this trail was located on the privately owned Payne Ranch, which blocked public access to much of the existing public land to the south and east encompassing the wild canyon of Cache Creek. But a determined effort by the BLM to acquire the 12,769-acre ranch resulted in expansion of the Cache Creek Natural Area to more than 70,000 acres. The trail follows the ridgetop that creates the boundary between the former Payne Ranch and the Cache Creek Wilderness, which was designated in 2006. From the ridge, hikers enjoy frequent views of sinuous Cache Creek, which was added to the California Wild & Scenic Rivers System in 2005. The trail makes its way through classic low-elevation Coast Range habitat, including blue oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral on serpentine-based soils. The possibility of viewing wildlife is high, since this area is home to one of the largest free-roaming tule elk herds in California, as well as one of the largest wintering populations of bald eagles. Except for some seasonal stock ponds, this ridgetop trail is dry for most of its length, so be sure to bring plenty of water."

"The Cache Creek Natural Area is a secluded hilly expanse east of Clear Lake. Elevations range from 3,196 feet atop Brushy Sky High down to 600 feet at the eastern end of Cache Creek along Route 16. The primitive area offers recreational opportunities that include river running, hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, equestrian use, bird watching, and hiking. More than 154 species of birds have been spotted in the Cache Creek area, including bald eagle during the winter, great blue herons, belted kingfishers, and wild turkeys. Free-roaming tule elk and blacktail deer may be spotted grazing in the open grasslands and on hillsides near brushy cover."

Cache Creek Ridge Trail Reviews

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Only did a southern end out & back b/c I didn't have a shuttle set up. From Usal campsite -it's a nice little start up through the redwoods, but then it opens up with with the expanse of the Pacific on your left as you gradually climb through some exposed brush . It levels out at 1100 ft before dipping down to Dark gulch, which has an unofficial but well used camp site right by the stream. Some more up and down brings you to Anderson gulch at mile 5, it's a camp site that looks like it had better days. Keep moving up a switchbacking climb, then down again, to Little Jackass at mile 7.5 and you'll be rewarded by access to a great little beach and a few nice campsites set back (and protected from the wind) under the forest canopy. At the beach the seals seem to like checking out us terrestrial creatures, as they kept hanging out past the first breakers. The water is brisk, to say the least, but laying out on the black sand on a fog free afternoon makes a brief dip worth the momentary chill. It's definitely a challenging hike with the constant up and down, but absolutely enjoyable overall. And even though it was Labor Day weekend, only a handful of groups on the trail. I'll take it over the crowds at Yosemite any day. Recommendations, or lessons learned: definitely bring your trekking poles ( I left mine by my front door and made do with downed fir branches). Wear hiking pants and not shorts - unless you don't mind the brush scratching you up in a few sections.
Before I say anything else, WOW!!!!! What beautiful scenery this trail leads you through! This is the first trail that I have ever hiked where there are outhouses...outhouses at every campground!!! Decided at the last minute, just a week before spring semester, to backpack the lost coast trail with a friend who had mentioned it at the beginning of winter break. Instead of ending the trip at the trailhead near Orchard Camp, we extended it and hiked all the way to the Black Sands beach in Shelter Cove. Camped at Little Jackass the first night and practically ran into two rather large and totally unintimidated elk (gorgeous animals). Second night was spent at Bear Harbor where I had the privilege of having deep philosophical conversations with the seals (those guys were intense). Almost made it to Orchard camp in two days but wish I would have taken at least three. Took another two days of hiking to get to Shelter Cove. Spent a total of 4 days 3 nights to get from Usal trailhead to Shelter Cove. There are outhouses at every campground! The only reason we did this trail so quick was because of time and being greedy to see as much as possible. This is not a "walk in the park" trail and should not be taken lightly or hiked quickly (use trekking poles!!!) Steep terrain and the fact that it's miles out of the way means that there are likely to come across some obstacles (downed trees, over-growth, trail erosion) on sections of the trail. Next time I hike this I am going to take much more time and enjoy the scenery. Backpack this trail!!!! Oh yeah, in case I didn't mention, there are outhouses at every campground!!
I will admit it... I took this trail lightly. I was wrong to do so. The thing is brutal at times. Up and down and up and down, through overgrown berry bushes and a sea of ticks and bear @$!*%. But there is no time to be annoyed. You round a corner and a window through the thick evergreens shows an eagle levitating at eye level, tracing the cliff that plunges to the surf below, where sea lions bark at each other in the waves. Around another corner elk wade through tall grass dotted with wildflowers, close enough to reach out and touch if you weren’t frozen in fear for almost bumping into them, trying not to soil 1/4 of your underwear allocation for the trip. So you get the point… the animals and scenery and black sand beaches are spectacular. This is the California coast at its finest. Now the logistics: This being Memorial Day weekend, we knew we were in for some crowds. We camped at the northern trailhead Friday night and got an early start. We got all the way out to Little Jackass Creek camp by early afternoon and actually had the beach to ourselves, for a couple of hours. Then the masses caught up. By sunset, a dozen or so camp sites had been set up on the beach. Everyone was friendly enough, but beat up from the hike and wanting some space, clearly not happy to see others already on the beach as they came down the final descent. I feel extremely privileged to have had some time to ourselves. We packed up after breakfast the next morning and booked it to a more secluded spot, on top of a cliff. We put the hammock up and relaxed for the day. That night was one of the best of my life. I sat with my feet dangling, watching the sun sink over the pacific, and all was good in life. On day 4, we mostly had the park to ourselves. Based on that, when I go back eventually, I will be sure to do it mid week when I won’t have to jockey for position on the beach.
We parked and reserved a base camp at Usal campground and hiked up the trail to Anderson and then Little Jackass. We hiked up and down many a ridge and ravine (at least 6-7 ascents and descents) We encountered 3 streams that were fun to crossed, vegetation that was difficult to wade through and Roosevelt Elk on switchbacks with no intention of letting us pass. (We climbed down a 45 Degree hill about 300 yards into what we thought was Anderson camp on our way back with our 45 Lb packs!) The washed out and narrow trails, downed redwood and pine trees made it an obstacle course game trail instead of the managed and groomed backpacking adventures I have become accustomed to. Even though the ticks have acquired a taste for 25% DEET, I would not change a thing!
i parked my car at usal beach campground, and took the "lost coast trail transport" shuttle on a two and a half hour trip to orchard camp that would rival many of the back-roads of california in its diversity. i was dropped off at the trailhead and the hike began with roosevelt elk so close to the path that i could almost touch them. it got better as the views of the coast unfolded and i found myself alone with mother nature and no one else around for i know the lost coast and i will be back...

Cache Creek Ridge Trail Photos

Trail Information

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Nearby City
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument

Activity Feed

Jun 2018