Pleasants Ridge Trail

Winters, California

Pleasants Ridge Trail Professional Review and Guide

"The trails in Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve (a UC Davis ecological study area) are open to the public yearround. Access to the trails is at the northern mouth of Cold Canyon, just off Highway 128. The topography of the reserve is primarily steep, sloping land. Pleasants Ridge rises sharply from the floor of Cold Canyon, forming the east canyon wall. The Pleasants Ridge Trail begins at the mouth of the canyon and aggressively climbs the spine of the mountain to the eastern ridge. Atop the ridge are magnificent vistas across Lake Berryessa, Putah Creek Valley, Blue Ridge, and the surrounding rugged mountains."

Pleasants Ridge Trail Reviews

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We did this trail accidentally in an attempt to do the Homestead loop. We stayed to the left at the start of the trail and it begins very, very steep. It was a long, tough climb to get to the top of the ridge, but my 9-year-old girl did it with no problem. The views are spectacular and because we did it in the spring, the flora and fauna were amazing - I'll try to post some pix. Three warnings: first, poison oak is everywhere and the trail is not well maintained, so you have to be careful to avoid it. Dogs aren't allowed on the trail, and they'd just bring poison oak toxins into your car. Second, we had a lovely encounter with a huge rattlesnake. This hike is up along a rocky ridge, so keep your eyes and ears open (and again, no dogs). This snake was happy to warn us with a loud rattle and we had to climb a steep cliff to avoid it, but nobody got hurt, including the snake (remember that you're in their home!). Third, the first part of the hike really is steep and slippery, and it's much harder on the way back! If you're getting tired on the way up, keep the return trip in mind. Eventually you'll get to climb a rocky outcrop that's a smooth, sheer, rock face to your left: go no further. It's all scrub and we got scratched something awful trying to push through it (thinking it was the Homestead loop with a cake-walk on the 2nd half - the cake is a lie!). Thanks to the scrub and the rattlesnake my daughter declared it "the worst hike ever", and my wife was miserable going back down the steep slope with a bad ankle, but I had a great time and got some wonderful pix!
Most beautiful view of the valley I have ever seen. On our particular day you could see Sacramento and the entire snow capped Sierra Range. There are 2 versions to this trail, the left fork which the guide describes or there is a right fork that is quite strenuous as the trail disappears half way to the summit , climbing 400' on all fours; perfect for training!

Pleasants Ridge Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
1,500 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
1 hour
Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve
Local Contacts
U.S.G.S. Monticello Dam and Mount Vaca
Local Maps