While Davis itself may be flat, it is quite close to some killer areas for backpacking and other outdoor activities. Newcomers to the area should be aware that poison oak is common in areas below 5,000 feet elevation and hikers can easily contract contact dermatitis even when the shrubs are leafless. Also see Camping and Climbing.

Trails and Hiking Areas

Hiking Trails in Yolo County

Within two hours one can be at many excellent backpacking and hiking areas. If you're willing to drive a little more the wilderness opportunities are endless. It's a little impossible to list all of the "local" destinations but here are a couple of ideas. See the Adventures Outside of Davis, Camping, or Climbing page for more places. Dog owners should visit our Dogs page for pet-friendly hikes.

Hiking Trails in Colusa County

Snow Mountain Wilderness in June 2011. The snow ball is in the general direction of Davis. Also Maverick.

Hiking Trails In Solano County

Hiking the ridge on Stebbins.

  • Jepson Prairie Reserve
  • Lake Solano County Park
  • Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve - Stebbins Canyon is a very popular spot for trail-walking Davisites.  It is one of the closest trails to town with significant elevation gain.  The area is just of Hwy 128 near the Monticello Dam, below Lake Berryessa, (about 23 miles west of town).  There is an easy main trail that runs the floor of the canyon, with gradual slopes up to an the remains of an old stone cabin.  Its nice for a casual hike along a seasonal creek and a lunch under woody cover.  Hikers seeking more of a thigh workout can ascend to the western ridge for a full loop back to the highway.  The climb up can be long with a lengthy series of stairs to the top, and the hike along the ridge trail is rockier and more strenuous, but those who are up for the climb are rewarded with fewer trail-goers and great views of both the canyon and Lake Berryessa.  (Watch our for a few hardcore trail runners though).  Even burlier hikers can climb the eastern ridge for a real workout.  Switchbacks anyone? 
  • Also check out Solano County Hiking Trails - Vacaville Wiki for an even more comprehensive list of trails in Solano County.

Hiking Trails In Eldorado County

Eldorado County sits between Tahoe and Folsom along Highway 50, and has many hikes and backpacking trips for Davisites willing to drive a little ways out of town.  There are hiking areas within the Eldorado County that are just over an hour from Davis, and other areas near tahoe that are 2 or 3 hours away.  Still the county offers a vast array treks through beautiful pine forests, to sparkling mountain lakes, or across sprawling desolate alpine zones.

  • Desolation Wilderness -- Desolation Wilderness is a 64,000 acre Wilderness Area just west of Lake TaDesolation Wilderness can be a beautiful nearby escape once you lose the crowds that belie its name. Fido can help haul people trash down for you once his water's gone, toohoe.  TheSecret Lake, (just South of Grouse Lake) park is probably Davis's most accessible source for high alpine adventures, (just a mere 2.5 hour drive east up Hwy 50).  It is a large park with glacier-carved granite valleys, massive rugged peaks, and dozens of tiny blue alpine lakes.  Hikers have many trails to choose from, from day-hikes, to mutiday backpacking treks.  There are many opportunities in Desolation for extreme hikes to some of the tallest mountains in the region, as well as plenty of shorter, less grueling jaunts through still amazingly beautiful territory.
    • Horsetail Falls - Horsetail falls lies at the far end of towering valley of granite, 1.5 miles in from Hwy 50.  The trail to the base of the the falls is the most popular and easiest trail, following the floor of the valley.  The boundary into Desolation is about 0.5 miles in from Hwy 50.  Hikers can fill a good 4 hours walking the trail out and back, and still enjoy a leisurely lunch at the falls.  More adventurous hikers can ascend the scree fields lining the valley walls to the top of the falls with an extra hour or three, (can be a very dicey in many spots, so use care).  Those who climb the wall early enough in the day, can hike back further into a even more massive valley of granite, filled with tiny (and freezing cold) lakes and towering giants overhead, including Pramid Peak, Dick's Peak and Mt. Ralson.  Many backpackers camp over night at Ropi Lake, about 1.5 miles in from the rim of the falls.  Horsetail falls is about 97 miles, (about 2 hours) from Davis.  To get there, take I-80 to Hwy 50, to Strawberry.  The trailhead is right off Hwy 50 about  1.5 miles beyond Strawberry.
    • Wright's Lake - While technically outside of the Desolation boundary, Wright's Lake is the starting point for a number of hikes into Desolation Wilderness.  The lake itself is good for a leisurely day of summer-time lake lounging, if that's what you're looking for, but a few worthy trails are available for those seeking a hike for a day or more into Desolation.
      • Grouse Lake - Grouse Lake is a picturesque sierra lake some 2 miles east of Wright's Lake. TIsland Lakehe hike up to the Grouse Lake ascends gentle to moderate slopes through pine forest mixed with open expanses of granite, (follow the rock piles).  Day hikers looking to push further can climb another mile past Grouse Lake to Smith Lake, a beautiful alpine lake at the bottom of a rocky bowl tucked into the ridge of the Crystal Range.  Or you could traverse a mile over the ridge south of Grouse Lake to find Secret Lake, a tiny blue gem of a lake set among a sprawling ramble of scree.  Find the trailhead for Grouse Lake at the end of the road on the east side of the Wright's Lake.
      • Twin Lakes and Island Lakes - These lakes live just north of Wrights Lake and share the same trail head as Grouse lake, (the Twin Lake Trail veers north about a mile from the trailhead).  Twin Lakes are just under 3 miles up a gradual slope and are an easy destination for a leisurely lunch.  Island Lake is another mile beyond, tucked in on the the floor of an impressive granite bowl.  The hike up to Island lake can be completed in a day and provides great views of the Crystal Range.

Hiking Trails in Other Counties


Listed here are some great free resources for hiking and backpacking


One really doesn't need to buy maps with these available, however, common sense dictates that you should bring a printed copy of the map of your hiking destination with you on the hike.

Libraries & Websites

Places to rent gear

Places to buy gear

It's important for everybody to be properly equipped so they can carry their own load.

Clubs and Organizations


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2008-04-13 13:59:14   Can anyone recommend a good backpacking location near Davis (an hour or two away) that has some sort of water nearby to frolic in? —Ash

You might want to check out the Sierra Club scrambles. They are a combination hike and air mattress float trip. My wife has done a couple of them and had a great time —jimstewart

2009-06-25 01:00:07   Where was the picture at the top of the page taken? —IDoNotExist