Size: 27,296 acres.
Area Description :
The prominent feature within the Cache Creek Wilderness is Cache Creek, which bisects the new wilderness area and forms a rugged steep-sided canyon. Steep canyon walls occasionally open to broad grassy meadows with scattered valley oaks, such as Baton Flat, Wilson Valley, and Kennedy Flats. Numerous steep tributaries also feed into Cache Creek including Dry Creek, Rocky Creek, Trout Creek, Crack Canyon, and Davis Creek. The remainder of the Cache Creek Wilderness is dominated by rolling chaparral-covered hills. Elevations within the wilderness range from 720 feet near the mouth of Davis Creek to 3,196 feet at Brushy Sky High near the southern boundary.
Biological values with the wilderness are diverse. A year-round population of the bald eagle resides within the remote canyon and includes one documented nest site which has been active since 2000. Nesting and wintering eagles have been attracted here because of the abundant forage fish found in the creek, as well as the large expanse of isolated habitat within the canyon essentially free from human disturbance.
California’s endemic tule elk resides within the Cache Creek Wilderness. Approximately 50 elk use a variety of habitats here year-round. The black bear is commonly seen, especially near the creek foraging for fish. Other non-game species commonly spotted include the mountain lion, coyote, gray fox, bobcat, badger, raccoon, beaver, and river otter. Game species sought after by hunters include blacktail deer, black beer, wild pig, gray squirrel, wild turkey, mourning dove, and California quail. Dense chaparral habitat supports species such as the blacktailed jackrabbit, brush rabbit, wrentit, California thrasher, and California towhee.
Many visitors visit this area to view the variety of bird species found in diverse habitats. Blue oak woodlands such as along the Redbud Trail and Cache Creek Ridge Trail are a popular destination in the springtime to view the variety of songbirds during the breeding season. The uncommon pileated woodpecker and pygmy owl are sometimes observed here. Roadrunners are occasionally spotted in open areas along the Cache Creek Ridge Trail. Raptors often seen include the bald eagle, golden eagle, osprey, red-tailed hawk, kestrel, prairie falcon, northern harrier, great horned owl, pygmy owl, and long-eared owl.
Because of the variety of habitats, there is a diversity of plant species dominated by those species found in the chaparral and native oak habitats. Several BLM Sensitive Plants are known to occur, including adobe lily, Hall’s madia,, Snow Mountain buckwheat, and drymaria-like western flax.
A variety of fish species including native and non-native occur in Cache Creek. Some of these are game species which can attract significant fishing in selected locations for smallmouth bass, bluegill, and catfish.
Perhaps the premier attraction of the wilderness area is the scenic quality of the landscape. It includes extremely diverse terrain and natural values including expansive vistas from high ridges such as Perkins Creek Ridge, Cache Creek Ridge, and Brushy Sky High. There are also panoramic views of the Cache Creek canyon area from places such as the Redbud Trail and Buck Island. The river corridor provides beautiful views of the surrounding hills, the lush riparian habitat, and fascinating geological features to those rafting or hiking through the canyon.
Cultural resource values are significant within the Cache Creek Wilderness. Research shows that the area was inhabited by the Hill Patwin as long as 11,000 years ago, with significant habitation occurring within this remote canyon. Prehistoric sites ranging from small lithic scatters to large permanent village sites have been documented. Because of the significance of these sites, a portion of the area within the new wilderness was previously designated an Archaeological District. Historic cultural sites, most notably in Wilson Valley and Baton Flat, include the remains of some of the original homesteaders who arrived in this area in the 1870’s. Several mines were also developed within and adjacent to the wilderness area in the 1800’s.
The Cache Creek Wilderness Area is very rich in recreational opportunities. Since the acquisition of several key parcels of private land from 1985-2000, public access was significantly expanded in an area that previously had very limited access. The Redbud Trail, Judge Davis Trail, and Cache Creek Ridge Trail now provide a dispersed access for visitors to enjoy the solitude and special features of the Cache Creek Wilderness. Popular activities now include hiking, hunting and fishing, bird watching, backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and rafting. Private groups of rafters float through the wilderness in what is called the “Wilderness Run” from put-in at the North Fork to take-out at the Bear Creek confluence. Other less frequent recreational pursuits include swimming, inner tubing, photography, rock hounding, dog running, and gold panning.
Getting There :
Additional Information :
On October 17, 2006 the President signed the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act. Section 3(8) of the Act designated 27,245 acres in Lake County, California, as the Cache Creek Wilderness.