Hike 1 is on University land, Hikes 2 and 3 are on BLM land, and Hike 4 is on Tuleyome, University, and BLM land. Hikes 2 and 4 are loops!
Hike #1, Homestead hike: The primary attraction of this area is the University of California's natural reserve. The hike into the reserve is straight up the canyon, and ends at the old homestead. You start after the silver gate, and follow the trail going straight. This will take you around the bend, and you will see a large field of boulders. There was a huge landslide in the winter of 1995 (or '94, I never can remember). I remember hiking here right after the slide, and the area was completely barren. It has been fun to watch the area regenerate over the past few years, and you can see the early successional plants starting to take hold. Look for Coyote brush, redbud, and yerba santa on the slide area. After you pass through the slide area, you will see the reserve entrance sign and a sign-in box. Be sure to sign in before you take the hike.
The hike will take you up the canyon, paralleling the creek the entire way. At several points there will be places to go to the creek, so be sure to take the opportunity. The water is cool most of the year, so I like to hike this in sandals so I can get my feet wet! When you reach the old homestead, be sure to follow the trail back to the old cold storage house. If you look in the creek next to the storage house, you may see salamanders. Be sure to look in the Spring/early summer for the little guys.
Distance: 1 mile to the old homestead (one way), and a total elevation gain of 520 feet.
Hike #2, Blue Ridge loop trail: At the end of winter, 2002, UC Davis completed this loop trail. You start out by doing Hike 1, going up the canyon to the homestead. Then take the spur trail from the homestead, up to Blue Ridge. Continue north along Blue Ridge, until you get to the end of the ridge. The trail will then head back down to the canyon to the trailhead. You can, of course, do this trail in reverse, and head up the west side to begin with. It is much steeper uphill, however.
At the north end of blue ridge, as you head back down the canyon, make sure to go out to the rock outcropping to the north. This rock outcropping gives you a great bird's eye view of the Dam, lake, and Creek. When the Spillway is overflowing at the Dam, it looks like there is a great hole in the lake! Go near the end of Winter to see this.
Distance: 4.75- mile loop, with a total elevation gain of 1500 feet. Moderate difficulty.
Hike #3, Pleasants Ridge hike: This hike goes up the east side of the canyon, up a steep slope through blue oak woodland and grassland. It offers great views of Cold canyon as you hike up, and terminates at a rock outcropping on the ridge. The ridge is spectacular, and is a real knife-edge. Great views of the Putah Creek wildlife area and the valley can be seen from here.
Distance: 0.5 mile to the top of the ridge, with an elevation gain of 1040 feet. Yes, this is steep! Very difficult.
Hike #4, Annie's Trail:
This hike takes you further south from the main Cold Canyon loop. At the southernmost point of the section of the Cold Canyon loop along the Blue Ridge, you will see a sign for the 'Tuleyome' trail that leads you further south. Take the Tuleyome trail until you see a sign for Annie's Trail. At this point you can continue on the Tuleyome Trail and do Annie's Trail as a clockwise loop, intersecting it further south, or take this first intersection and do the loop counter-clockwise. There are steep sections, so it is moderately difficult to difficult, depending on your ability. Be sure to stop at Annie's Rock for the view, when you see the Annie's Rock sign.
Distance: An additional 2.5 miles added to the existing 4.75 mile Cold Canyon loop. Moderately difficult to difficult.