Yolo County Highpoint Trip Report
Little Blue Peak
Date: April 24, 2004
Author: Peter Maurer
Following the directions of Craig Harris and others, we completed this most miserable of hikes (if one can
call six hours of crawling through chaparral a hike) in 10 hours. I was more exhausted and sore than hiking
Whitney in one day! This peak takes a lot of perseverance and is NOT for the faint of heart.
Fortunately, with a relatively dry spring the route from State Highway 16 along Cache Creek was open, and
just recently graded by Yolo DOT, so accessing the trail head via Rayburn/Reiff Roads allowed an earlier
start than if we had had to drive all the way to Lower Lake. Normally this time of year Cache Creek is still
flowing high, and the seasonal bridge would be under water.
We hit the trail at 10:00, and the first mile or so is a gentle stroll along a fire break road through chaparral.
Take the right fork in the road after about a mile and it begins to get more overgrown as it drops into Davis
Creek canyon. After another half mile the trail gets much rougher (but nothing on what is to come) as it is
more overgrown and washed out in several places. Cross the fallen log as mentioned in previous trip reports
and continue until what is left of the trail ends at a large rock outcrop near some bay trees and a small
stream. At this point you are pretty much on your own and need to drop down to Davis Creek. We tried to
stay up higher and traverse along the contour, but were stopped by the chaparral. After several abortive
attempts to get through the brush, we slid and crawled down to the creek to begin the "Milktoast Highway".
Mr. Harris' description of the next mile as "rough" is the understatement of the year. Since he wrote his
report, much of the brush has grown back and we spent most of the next four hours forging a way through
the creek bed (attempting to no avail to keep our feet dry), working with loppers to clear a path for the
return trip, and bent over or crawling on all fours much of the way. A fellow highpointer from Medford,
Oregon was ahead of us, as we could see by his vehicle at the trail head and an occasional footprint but I
don't know how he made it through the brush without more clearing.
Now that there has been some clearing, it may not take quite so long but be prepared for a long outing and
do not get impatient and try to leave the creek too early. There is no other way out except as described!
Most of the duck markings are long gone and there is one side creek at about 3/4 mile that we mistook for
the left fork, which led to a short delay. The left fork that leads to the escape route is the main fork and is
located at one of the few brief patches of grass where one can walk upright in the upper reaches
of the canyon.
We left the creek at what looked like the grassy path referred to in the prior reports but again were a little
impatient and it ended up being 40-50 yards too early. This resulted in getting on the wrong side of a steep
washout that we could not traverse, and led to an extra 20 minutes of crawling and bushwhacking.
The return trip showed a definite cairn on the right side of the creek and it is just below a
lovely 12-15 foot waterfall.
If you reach that, you've gone too far and need to turn back a little way until you can find a way out.
Once you're out of the steep inner gorge of the creek, it's a relatively easy hike along the grassy strip
until you reach a crest that opens up into large meadow. From that point you can see the fire road leading
up the ridge line to the saddle and ultimately to the goal of the peak itself. However, the fire road does not
clearly connect to the meadow, except for an overgrown trail that is easy to miss. There are two bare spots
of rock at the upper end of the meadow. At the higher one is a faint trail through the chaparral that after
100 yards, or so becomes the fire break. From there it is an obvious route along the fall line of the ridge to a
junction (skip the first right hand turn that looks like it leads back down into the cirque below the summit),
drop back down to the saddle between the ridges, and then a right turn at another junction along the crest of
Little Blue Ridge that leads to the summit in another quarter mile.
The Oregonian had signed the register but must have taken the private route back out since we saw no sign
of him. We debated on whether to retrace our steps or try the private route but having a healthy aversion to
private property advocates with lots of dogs, opted for the former. Besides, we didn't really know the route,
and figured it might also entail more bushwhacking. With our previously-cleared trail, it only took 2 hours
to cover the mile of creek walking and by that time we weren't too worried about dry boots, so simply
splashed through the deeper parts where there weren't good rocks or other ways to avoid the water. We still
were a bit worried about it getting late, and having to find our way out in the dark, but fortunately that
turned out to not be a problem. If this were to be attempted in the fall with shorter daylight hours,
you would want to get an early start so that would not occur. As it was, the total hike was 10 hours to cover
just 8.5 miles.
This is not recommended in the heat of summer. On this relatively mild spring day, with temps in the 70's,
we drank 4 liters of water each and were still dehydrated at the end. Think of it as six hours of heavy yard work.
One other note, poison oak cannot be avoided. If you are susceptible to it, you will get it. There are
long branches growing across the creek, and thick clumps on the dryer hillsides. It's everywhere.
However, on the plus side, it is a rugged, remote part of the state, and you'll probably not see anyone.
There is tons of birdlife, and the wildflowers were gorgeous.
But with it all said and done, I'm glad that peak is over with.