We’ve all seen photos of bald eagles, but how many of us have had the thrill of spotting them in the wild? Cache Creek Natural Area, a patchwork of lands southwest of Williams and west of Clear Lake in Lake, Colusa and Yolo counties, is an off-the-beaten-track destination for DogTrekkers, to be sure. But the opportunity to spy eagles and elk while romping in the rough makes it a great winter hiking destination. Best bet for first-timers is the Redbud Trail, a seven-mile path that starts in a broad meadow and heads up to Brushy Sky High Ridge for great views of rain-swollen Cache Creek and a sea of hills that will turn velvety green in coming weeks.
The Bureau of Land Management offers free wildlife-viewing hikes here on winter Saturdays, but you and your dog are welcome any time on your own. Bring binoculars for close-up views of bald and golden eagles that roost in treetops and feed on fish from the streams between mid-October and mid-April. If you make it as far as the Wilson Valley area, keep an eye out for one of California’s last herds of free-roaming tule elk.
Dogs under voice control are allowed off-leash here, but chasing wildlife is a no-no, so if your four-legged friend has herding instincts, be prepared to rein her in. Photo: "Bald Eagles at Cache Creek Natural Area" - BLM