PLEASE READ BEFORE ATTENDING:
Plan on a 3.5 to 4 hour casually paced hike up and back, 10 miles, 1,300 ft elevation gain. There is no water or restroom facilities in the park.
PLAN ON ARRIVING at THE TRAIL HEAD AT 9:00am. We will depart for the hike at 9:15am. If you are delayed, please message on this site...but not a guarantee that we can wait. It will get very hot as the day goes by.
Bring a snack and at least a 48 oz of water or more....if you dont have enough water/hydration drinks you will not be able to hike with us. Non-negotiable.
Consider wearing sunscreen, wear hiking boots, bring poles if you have them.
Carpools are recommended. It takes about 1 hr. to reach to the trailhead from Walnut Creek...a tad longer for the return to WC.
This is an all day outing, especially if you plan to stay in St. Helena for a meal afterwards. There is no guaranteed return time. Make your plans accordingly.
There is an option to head to Rombauer Winery which is on the way back along the Silverado Trail, for a picnic lunch. Rombauer is a beautiful winery with gorgeous multi tiered gardens and sculptures. There are picnic tables but they may require us to buy some wine for the use of a picnic table. Please indicate in your RSVP if you definitely plan to stop at Rombauer's after the hike. Its a very nice winery, so you may want to consider a change of attire and shoes....
Stevenson Memorial Trail
Overview: The summit of Mt. Saint Helena is 10 miles round trip with 1,300-foot elevation gain
You can see the imposing mountain towering above the wineries. Mt. Saint Helena is a landmark, a wild backdrop behind the neat cultivated vineyards of Napa Valley.
The best view of the wine country is from the top of 4,343-foot Mt. Saint Helena, reached by a five mile trail that winds through stands of knobcone pine to deliver summit panoramas of not only Napa Valley but the High Sierra and San Francisco Bay as well.
Most of the summit and broad shoulders of Mt. Saint Helena are protected by Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. Stevenson, best remembered for his imaginative novels, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Treasure Island, honeymooned in a cabin tucked in one of Mt. Saint Helena’s ravines in the summer of 1880.
Stevenson Memorial Trail is particularly enjoyable for the first interesting mile as it winds through the forest to the memorial. The next four miles of trail—a well-graded fire road leading to the summit—are frankly a bit monotonous; however, the grand vistas, becoming better and better as you climb, more than compensate.
Directions to trailhead: From downtown Calistoga, at the junction of Highways 128 and 29, head north on the latter road. Highway 29 ascends 8.2 miles to a summit, where you’ll fnd parking at turnouts on both sides of the highway for Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. The trail departs from the west side of the highway. Hint: The not-very-well-signed state park is easy to miss. If you find yourself rapidly descending on Highway 29, you overshot the summit and the state park. Carefully turn around and return to the summit.
The hike: Just above the parking lot is a picnic area. During Stevenson’s day, a stage stop and the Toll House Hotel were located here. The Stevensons came down the hill from their honeymoon cabin to buy provisions.
Signed Stevenson Memorial Trail switchbacks up a shady slope forested with oak, madrone, bay and Douglas fir. A pleasant mile’s walk brings you face-to-face with the granite Stevenson memorial, itself something of a historical curiosity, having been erected by “The Club Women of Napa County” in 1911.
To continue to the peak, scramble up a badly eroded hundred-yard-long stretch of trail to the fire road and turn left. The road soon brings you to a hairpin turn and the first grand view en route. You can admire part of the Napa Valley and surrounding ridges, San Francisco high-rises, as well as two distinct and aptly named nearby peaks: Turk’s Head to the west and Red Hill to the south.
The road continues climbing moderately, but doggedly, up the mountain. Wind-battered, but unbowed, knobcone pine dot the middle slopes of Mt. Saint Helena. Three miles from the trailhead, you’ll pass under some power lines, and another half mile’s travel brings you to a junction with a spur trail leading 0.4 mile to Mt. Saint Helena’s South Peak.
Half-a mile from the summit, the road passes through a forest of sugar pine and Douglas fir, then begins the final climb to the peak. Various transmitters, communication facilities and a fire lookout clutter the summit, but don’t block the view. Vistas include the Sonoma County coast to the west, Santa Rosa due south, San Francisco and the Bay to the southwest, the High Sierra north of Yosemite to the east. On the clearest of days, you might be able to glimpse Mt. Shasta, nearly 200 miles to the northeast.
Optional: Lunch and or wine tasting in St. Helena afterwards