This trail has beautiful views along the steady climb. Lots of scrambling over rocks. Coming down at 2:30pm I encountered a rattlesnake whose rattle warning sent me yelping back up the hill in surprise. He must have been sunning himself on the trail. Otherwise, not much wildlife- just tiny lizards and a bird here and there.
For an 8 miles out and back you get your workout bang for the miles buck; almost all of it in the first three miles with about a 2,000 feet elevation gain.
The elevation gain is not all of it. While the first 1.5 miles or so are easy enough to navigate, the trails becomes noticeable more rocky and a bit tougher to manage for the top half of the ascent: a bit of washout here and there, narrower trail with encroaching bushes, tight and steep switchbacks.
But the huffing and puffing is worth the effort as sweeping views await when you reach the ridge. As a previous reviewer has noted, a short scrambling detour to the unnamed peak to the north (when you reach the ridge) offers very nice views overlooking Cache Creek and the parking area you started from.
The .75 miles to Fiske Peak itself are easy enough to negotiate; don't forget to sign the register at the top (if you are so inclined) and to stop and enjoy the 360 degrees panorama, including Sutter Buttes in the distance to the East-North-East.. Another time, I may continue to Lowery Peak (another 3 miles to the south - 6 round trip) to get above 3000 feet.
A short-ish trail on the demanding side of "average", especially for older legs :-)
tough hike for sure. Def need to go when not to hot. tough on joints, nice views from top. lots of narrow spots that u really have to be careful on. we have done hikes rated as hard that were easier than this one, so moderate may be an understatement. had 3 kids with us 10,11 and 12 yrs old. they crushed it, admitted to being sore at end. views were worth it! recommend doing mt st Helena first which is very close to this one and will give amazing similar views.
I've hiked this trail, partially, several times and did it again yesterday (5/12/16). Probably bad timing for it -- it's starting to get a little too hot, and this is a strenuous hike. There are 3 trees down blocking the trailhead; I had to remove my backpack and,crawl under.
Lots of flies and mosquitos right now.
I've never hiked the whole thing. After the 1000 foot mark, it continues a little further to the dry (right now) gulch, where you continue to the left up the hill. You continue climbing, up and up, dirt trail, until eventually it levels out, then there's a little steep downhill into some boulders you have to navigate and then continue around the mountain. This is generally my turn-around point. so, while I haven't done the whole thing, I think I've done most of the climbing.
Great trail. Did it during the hot spell in Feb '16.
First three miles were shady, damp, verdant and pretty steep.
The last mile (along the ridge) is fairly flat, sunny and dry.
The unnamed peak on the north side of the ridge offers some good views, but take a short bushwack (the trail is labyrinthine and a bit overgrown).
There is a register at the top of Fiske peak (under a rock containing the western-most of the three usgs markers).
Distance and elevation seem to be off a bit, we figure the elevation has an extra zero and the mileage is closer to 8+ miles. We went on a cloudy, misty, sprinkling rain day, really muddy trail, and creek was full to require crossing via the 16 road bridge. Recommend for a spring hike.