Yolo County Road 53 to the Pierce Canyon Falls

Background: This hike takes place on a public road right-of-way. Between Rumsey and Winters, the entire Blue Ridge only has one county road that goes back any significant distance into the mountains, and this is it. Most other public roadways end either at the historic rancho boundary, or the base of the foothills. However, Road 53 is unique. According to the Yolo County Surveyor, Road 53 is a public right-of-way since 1889, is a 50-foot wide right-of-way, and the public right-of way is 5.67 miles long. This distance matches almost exactly with the location of the 'End of County Maintained Road' sign that is located at the end of the public section of the road.

Be aware that while this is a public road, it does cross over private property. This means that if you leave the right-of-way, you will be trespassing. However, so long as you stay on the road, you're fine. Respect the private property, and stay on the road, not going beyond the end of the public right-of-way. The property owners are naturally wary of visitors, and have posted ample 'no trespassing' signs, but again, it is a public road, so know your rights and respect theirs, and everyone will get along fine. (I have this feeling that the more popular this hike gets, the more requests the Board of Supervisors will have from property owners for the county to abandon the public right of way. Make sure this doesn't happen by being respectful on the trail to anyone you meet, not trespassing by leaving the trail, and not bothering livestock. Being good neighbors means we will be able to enjoy this road for another 117 years!)

The Hike:  You have two options for this hike. If you park at the Guinda post office, hike up Forrest ave. (aka. Road 53) toward the mountains. At the end of the paved section of the road, the road will turn left (south) and you will see a gate (see the photo on the side). The gate will have two signs on it; the first sign will be in the center, and will read: Livestock - Keep gate closed. The second sign will say No Trespassing, and will have a handwritten message saying 'All the land behind this gate is private property. Trespassers will be prosecuted by the owner.' The sign is misleading. Yes, all the land is private, but it is a PUBLIC road. So you may hike it, bike it, and even drive it (though I wouldn't recommend it; it's pretty rough). Like I said, not only did I confirm it's a public road by the County, but also by talking with other landowners off of the road. Again, stay on the road, and you are fine.

Ok, so on to the hike description. First, after you get to the gate mentioned above, either climb over (when it's locked in the winter by the County) or open, walk through, and close it behind you. Hike along the road, staying on the main road. You'll see a couple roads branch off to the left and right. The one on the left is private, and is marked Bud Light Drive (great sense of humor). The second goes right, between massive stone pillars that mark a private drive to the Casey Flat Ranch. Road 53 goes straight. You'll wind up through Pierce Canyon, which has breathtaking steep cliffs, a nice creek, and beautiful oaks. Eventually you will wind away from the creek, heading into the hills. About 3 miles from the gate, you'll get to the best view of the falls. I usually end the trip here, since the road goes on for another mile and a half but your best vistas end here. You can still wind through oak woodlands if you continue the hike, however, so it's up to you. Remember, when you see the end of the county road sign, that's as far as the public right-of-way goes. The hike to the falls overlook is a 1000-foot elevation gain. I've posted a video of the falls, below.

Bottom line: Frankly, I love this hike. There is nowhere else in the Blue Ridge between Rumsey and Winters where you can see the private lands, oak woodlands, and wonderful gorges that are back there. This road/trail takes you into the heart of the mountains above the Capay Valley, and is truly a treasure. Use it, enjoy it, and make sure this public right-of-way stays in the public domain. It's also the closest hike to Woodland and Davis, outside of Cold Canyon, so it's great for a quick getaway.

Distance: The entire hike is between 6 to 8 miles, out and back to and from the falls. It's 6 miles round trip if you park at the end of the paved road (park 500-feet from the gate as the area between the gate and 500-feet back is a No Parking zone). If you park at the Post Office, it's an 8 mile round trip.

How to get there: 

How to get there:  From Yolo County, take Highway 16 to Guinda. You have two options for where to park and start this hike. Option 1 is to park at the post office in Guinda, located across from the general store. Option 2 is to turn left at the Guinda general store, and drive one mile back to the end of the paved section of Road 53, and park on the side of the road. Be aware that there is a 'No Parking' zone from the gate at the end of Road 53, until about 500-feet to the east, just before the last residential driveway. You are free to park on the side of the road before the 'No Parking' zone. Option 2 takes two miles off the round trip. Just be sure to not block any gates or the roadway.

  view of the falls   looking back toward capay valley
  the falls   close up of the falls
  hiking up road 53 from guinda   crossing the gate to raod 53 dirt portion
  hiking up the road   longhorn cattle
  the creek out of pierce canyon   bridge over the creek
  hiking up   around the corner to falls view
  road maintenance   hunting cabin in the canyon
  pausing before the falls - just a trickle   old indian school
  view of the falls   end of the public road
  sign at the beginning    
Map (.pdf file)

GPS track (.gpx format)

Note: track only goes to the falls view, not the end of the road. If you continue on you will see the end of road sign about a mile beyond.

gpx file