Napa County’s Lake Berryessa is known for its boating, but few people know of the excellent hiking trails overlooking this lake, which is particularly serene in winter. Thank UC Davis for maintaining Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve—the land next to the lake where the trails can be found, like the challenging 5-mile Homestead–Blue Ridge Loop Trail.
Starting from the parking area, follow the signs toward the Homestead and Blue Ridge Trails. Enjoy the labeled plant species along the way as you approach the loop’s trailhead. Start clockwise along the Homestead Trail, and gain elevation immediately on a trail mostly canopied by oaks. Follow signs toward the Blue Ridge Loop. The trail gets steeper, but stairs are built into the dirt trail to assist. And the Stairmaster-style climb is worth it!
Emerge onto the long, exposed ridge portion of the trail—the most challenging section but by far the most beautiful. Summit the first peak and you’re met with exceptional bird’s-eye views of Lake Berryessa, surrounded by green hills. Keep following this ridgetop trail up high in the hills, going up and down three more peaks. This loping segment of trail offers plentiful perspectives of the lake. The descent is fast and leads back to the trailhead.
From Napa, follow CA 121 N and continue onto CA 128 E. Continue for 10.8 miles and you’ll just pass a portion of Lake Berryessa before seeing the parking lot on the left. No dogs.