Sunday, January 04, 2015

Sporty Sunday: Hiking Blue Ridge Trail

This is the third time I’ve made the 2100 foot climb up Blue Ridge and it still makes my legs ache for days afterwards. Top Trails Sacramento gives this a difficulty rating of 5 (out of 5) and my friend Jerry calls it “the death march.” I was hoping for a little holiday penance and a tired puppy. I got both.

This is a popular off-season hike because it’s accessible all year long (except after strong rains). In the summer, I hear it really is a “death march” because of the exposure and steep climb. If you do visit in summer, I recommend a leisurely walk up Rayhouse Road, instead, and then a return to Cache Creek for a cooling dip.

The 2.69-mile climb to the top of Blue Ridge (and the junction with Fiske Peak Trail) takes you from dense forest at the bottom to sparse chaparrel (and plentiful boulders) at the top. Although the grade is challenging the views open up by the time you might consider giving up. Others I’ve talked to don’t consider this trail finished unless they’ve hiked the additional mile south, along Blue Ridge, to Fiske Peak. Personally, I think the views from the ridge itself are amazing.

This is a great trail for dogs, but use caution. The trail is narrow and there are many blind corners. It can be difficult to pass non-dog-loving hikers and easy to surprise both dogs and peoples at turns. (I’ve had two bad experiences here when a dog ran ahead and scared itself and the oncoming hiker at a blind corner.) There are steep drop-offs that are dangerous for both dopey mutts and unattended children. The trail is mostly dry and always steep so bring water for the humans and canines.

Source: Evans, Stephen L. "Blue Ridge Trail" Top Trails Sacramento. 4th ed. Birmingham: Wilderness, 2012. Print.

Length: 5 miles.

Water: Cache Creek (actually a river) flows year round. This excursion was the first time I’d seen Still Gulch flowing. Generally, the hike is dry after the first half mile and you should bring plenty of water for yourself and your animal companions.

Use: Moderate to heavy. The grade discourages some folks, but others come for the views and free access.

Differences from published description: None.

Jasper’s rating: 4 paws out of 5.

Sporty Sunday is a recurring feature in which I share my fitness routine and offer and solicit advice. While this content might seem a little out of place in an outfit diary, a healthy, strong body is the foundation of my wardrobe. I hope to inspire my readers to be fit as well as stylish!

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