Hiking Project Logo

Craig Canyon-Thompson Canyon Loop

  4.0 ( 1 ) Favorite


9.8 mile 15.7 kilometer loop


Ascent: 1,309' 399 m
Descent: -1,309' -399 m
High: 1,674' 510 m
Low: 1,012' 308 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 30% (17°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Nate Lillge


Current trail conditions

Update Conditions
Unknown See History

Navigate on-trail with our free app

iOS App Store Android App Store

This is an easy-to-follow loop around Cache Creek Wilderness, with a chance to see tule elk.

Nate Lillge

Features River/Creek · Wildlife

This is a multi-use trail, so you may meet some horses along the trail. Cowboy Camp is often closed in the winter (Nov-Feb).


This loop starts and ends at Cowboy Camp parking area. The Hike winds over many small shoulder ridges and provides access to the many trails in Cache Creek Wilderness Area. It is possible to see a herd of tule elk in the morning. There are many small ponds that are left from when the area was ranched. Some of these still have bass—which were transported to the ponds from Bear Creek and Cache Creek. Some of the ponds also provide an opportunity for a mid-hike swim. The 2015 Rocky Fire was very destructive and is still visible, although the area has started to regrow.

Need to Know

There are many small side trails along the route, but the main trail is well defined. A general rule of thumb is to always turn right when at a fork.


Follow the Bear Creek Trail south from the parking area at Cowboy Camp. The trail follows the east side of Bear Creek for about a mile to the crossing. Find a suitable/safe place to cross the creek and continue on the west side. About 0.1 mile after crossing Bear Creek, a choice can be made to head left or right. Staying left, the trail continues through the meadow and eventually starts the climb into the hills. The trail is easy to follow for 2 miles to the top of the ridge. There are two climbs along this leg. The first is short, while the second is a long, steep climb. At the top of the ridge, the trail intersects with many other trails—take the trail to the right. Follow the trail for 2 miles (two trails will intersect from the left—always stay to the right) to Thompson Canyon Trail. This intersection is near a stream crossing (you may have to look back over your right shoulder to see the sign pointing to Cowboy Camp) and climbs through an area that was burned in 2015. At the top of the hill, continue to the left. This section is very steep and can be slippery with recent rain (this is a good reason to go left at the beginning). Follow the well defined trail back to the meadow on the west side of Bear Creek (always taking the trail to the right).

Flora & Fauna

Chaparral, oaks, tule elk, otters, Swainsons hawks, and osprey.

History & Background

This area was ranched previously, and evidence is still visible throughout the hike.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow hikers know what's here.


Local Club: Tuleyome

Apr 30, 2016: footer Form Test

Mar 31, 2016: Hello world!

Mar 28, 2016: Hello world!

Land Manager: BLM California - Ukiah Field Office - Bear Creek Unit

Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


Mar 25, 2018
Turned around cause we couldn’t cross the creek 1.5mi

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote


  4.0 from 1 vote
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Hike Rankings


in California


17 Views Last Month
489 Since Nov 1, 2017



Craig Canyon -Thompson Canyon Trail through oak grassland.
Dec 1, 2017 near Clearlake, CA


Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking