Recreational opportunities abound and include hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, rafting, bird watching, nature photography, hunting, and fishing, among other activities. The Redbud Trail provides access to Wilson Valley, and it is possible to continue the 12.5 mile distance all the way through to the Judge Davis Trailhead, but this does require crossing Cache Creek in Wilson Valley which is not always possible due to high water flows.
The Cache Creek Ridge Trail which begins at the Judge Davis Trailhead, skirts the edge of the wilderness along the Lake/Colusa county line, continuing for 10½ miles to the confluence of Bear and Cache Creeks beyond the wilderness boundary. This trail provides very scenic vistas of Cache Creek Canyon, the recent Payne Ranch acquisition, and the Sacramento Valley including the Sutter Buttes, Mt. Lassen, and the Sierras when conditions are clear.
Due to summertime water releases from two upstream dams, water flows are sufficient to boat through the wilderness from April through early September. Put-in access is available at the Redbud Trailhead and take-out is either at Buck Island (15 river miles) or the confluence of Bear and Cache Creeks (20 river miles). There is no hiking trail that follows Cache Creek through the canyon.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
Weather conditions can vary considerably, depending upon which season one visits the Cache Creek Wilderness. Optimum months for the most favorable weather are mid-March through May, and October through November. The winter months can be rainy and cold with occasional snow, but there also may be extended dry periods at this time which make for suitable hiking during sunny dry conditions. Summer high temperatures can exceed 105° but average in the mid to upper 90’s.
There is no potable water, visitors must pack in all water or use a good quality water filter that screens out Giardia and Cryptosporidium if near a water source. There are no restroom facilities past the trailheads, so visitors must dispose of all human waste using environmentally acceptable methods.
Safety and Current Conditions
Access across Cache Creek for those on foot or horse can be restricted at times. Due to the lack of bridges on the Redbud and Judge Davis Trails, high water flows can prevent crossing the creek. At the Baton Flat crossing of Cache Creek on the Redbud Trail, high water flows can occur immediately during and for an extended period after large storm events, and also during the spring/summer agricultural irrigation season which lasts from mid-April through mid-September. During this time when water releases from Cache Creek Dam exceed 100 cubic feet per second, it is unsafe for visitors to attempt crossing the creek. At the Cache Creek crossing in Wilson Valley for those visitors hiking from the Redbud Trail to the Judge Davis Trail or vice versa, this creek crossing includes the combined releases from both Cache Creek Dam and Indian Valley Dam. If the combined flow exceeds 100 cfs here, it is considered unsafe to attempt a crossing. To get the most recent water release data from both dams, contact Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District at (530) 662-0265 or check their website at www.ycfcwcd.org and click the link for water releases for the latest information.
Visitors to the Cache Creek Wilderness should also be aware of other potential hazards including ticks, rattlesnakes, and poison oak. Bears and mountain lions are common residents here, but there are no records of attacks on humans. Most areas within the canyon are out of cell phone and 2-way radio range.