April 12-13, 2014
A solo overnight to check out the offerings of Cache Creek Wilderness/Natural Area along Redbud Trail on a warm April weekend.
From the parking area off highway 20 where it crosses Cache Creek, I took the Redbud trail to Wilson Valley where it crosses Cache Creek and turns into the Judge Davis trail. 6 miles to the beginning of Wilson Valley from the trailhead, 7 miles to the end of the meadow where I camped.
Max elevation: 1509 ft
Min elevation: 846 ft
Total climbing: 2680 ft
the way in – Day 1
Redbud trail leaves the parking area across a flat meadow and once it meets the forest, it starts a slight climb to a ridge. Over about half a mile the trail climbs about 500 feet. Once on top of the ridge, the trail breaks free from the forest and incredible views are revealed both to the north and south. Down the hill to the south, you can see the lower fork of the Cache winding its way to its eventual meeting with the trail. After a short walk on the ridge, the trail drops back down to meet up with the water in Baton Flat. Crossing the creek the trail skirts in and out of the forest following the lower fork for about a mile. Then it ascends toward the next ridge where it cuts north and remains for the next mile and a half. That ridge is a hallway of 6 to 7 foot chaparral, but you can easily catch glimpses of the surrounding hills through the top of the scrub. Upon reaching the end of the ridge, the trail turns east again and drops down toward Wilson Valley. Before entering the meadows, there’s a large, mostly dry (as of April 2014), stony creek bed to cross. Then, as the trail turns south, the meadows of Wilson Valley open up. The creek borders the meadow along the northeast until it makes a jog to the south. I decided to head all the way to the southern end of the valley where Cache Creek marks the border. The wildflowers were still making a show and I was lucky enough to see splashes of red, purple, yellow, and white flowers throughout the entire trail!
I set up my site at the end of the meadow, just up from the water. It was a hot day, so I immediately jumped in and tested the water before doing any of my camp duties. The creek was refreshingly cool. It wasn’t quite deep enough to swim, but I was able to float around and cool off. While I was relaxing after setting up camp, a bald eagle decided to pay a visit. What a sight! As dusk approached, I saw a group of 3 hunters trekking across the meadow. It’s turkey season and I heard them using their bird call as they hugged the border of the forest and meadow, but it looks like the turkeys won this round. While the day was in the 80s, the night dipped to the upper 40s and the morning was crisp and dewy.
the way out
I packed up camp and set to breakfast as the sun was starting to poke its way above the hills and treetops across the creek. After refilling my water supply, I trekked back out the same way I came in. Next time I visit, I’d like to continue on across the creek on the Judge Davis trail to see what that part of Cache Creek looks like.
The area is BLM land and there are no reservations or permits required, besides the general California campfire permit to use a stove.
Technically campfires are permitted (and I spotted a few fire rings), but they’re restricted during high fire danger times, which is pretty much 365 days a year; please use extreme caution if you decide to have a fire.