Carpenter Hill is not much, but has the distinction of being the high point of Sacramento county as well a being the lowest county high point in California. It makes a great first climb because of its location and ease of climb.
But don't let that fool you in to thinking its not worth your time. The view from the top is one of the best I've seen. Because it is on the western edge of the Sierra Nevada foothills the view of the central valley is almost unbeatable.
Carpenter Hill is a rounded hill topped by antennas. A new housing development now covers the sides, but because of the antenna facilities on top you can still reach the top and see the valley instead of someone's house.
Getting to Carpenter Hill is pretty darn easy. You can see Carpenter Hill from U.S. Highway 50. From Highway 50 take the East Bidwell St exit. Drive north on E. Bidwell St until you get to Broadstone Parkway. Turn Right on to Broadstone and drive till you reach Serpa Way, about 3 intersections. Turn right on Serpa and take a left at Caversham Way. Drive on Caversham for about a mile (it has a few bends) until you reach a gate.
Find a place to park and walk through the gate and follow the single lane road that services the antenna facilities. When you reach the top you will notice a pile of rocks near the fence. On the piles farthest east you will find a benchmark (sorry no summit registry). A more strenuous variation of this route would be to park at the Starbucks at the bottom of the hill.
There is no red tape that I know of. I'm sure someone owns the land. But my wife and I walked through the wide-open metal gate on a Saturday and we saw no no-trespassing signs. There are a lot of houses near the top so please be respectful so we can keep going to this county high point.
Sadly since my first trip up to Carpenter Hill I have made two trips there and the gate has been locked up both times. Both of those times have been on a Saturday in the late afternoon. One of these days I'll make a trip up on a weekday to check. But in my opinion the gate is closed for good.
When To Climb
The best times to climb are in the spring, fall and winter. Summer can get really hot in this area but this class negative 100,000,000 hike. Unless you're 6 months pregnant like my wife - then it's a class negative 1,000,000. The only real dangers might be snakes and West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes.
The closest camping I know about is at Beal's Point on Folsom Lake. There is also camping at Peninsula, Negro Bar, and Avery Pond. For more info check out the Parks' official site
If it snows you can tell your grandkids.