Mount St. Helena
Place Name: Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 4,343 Feet
Prominence: 1,823 Feet
Elevation Gain: 2,493 Feet
Lists: SF Nifty-Ninety (Main & South Peak), California County High Point (East Peak)
Crowded, Burned, and Long
Mount St. Helena offers a long hike, mostly up fire roads with no cover and through lots of burned out areas. Don’t expect to find quiet and solitude here, this place was crowded. Get there early for parking and be careful crossing the highway. The main peak is surrounded by 3 sub peaks. On this hike you can take down 2 summits from the Nifty-Ninety List and the high point of Napa County.
- Peaks on multiple lists
- Great wilflowers
- First mile of singletrack
- Parking sucks
- Burned landscape, fire roads, and no cover
Not gonna lie, I’m getting tired of the rainy/snowy weather. All I want to do is start tagging Oguls, but Mother Nature doesn’t want to cooperate. Looking to get some miles and elevation gain, I turned to this area, 2 hours from home. I had never actually been to the Napa Valley before so it was all new territory. For this hike we would park in the lot on Highway 29 and start up the single track. My 8-year old son and my wife came along for this hike.
The first mile was quite nice along the switchbacking single track. It was like a nice coastal forest hike. At a certain level, the terrain and vegetation changes instantly and it looks more like the areas above the gold country. The remainder of the hike is all on fire roads. The south side of the mountain is heavily fire scarred but on this day, the green grasses and wildflowers were engulfing the burned trees. Circle of life on full display. We kept following the road all the way to the main summit which is littered with radio towers, but offers fantastic views to the West, North and East. Cobb Mountain to the north was looking quite inviting.
We started descending and took a quick off shoot to the east peak and tagged the high point of Napa County. More radio towers and scarred land over here.
Further back down the trail, we went up the South Peak mostly to knock off another Nifty 90 Summit. The views to the south were obstructed by more radio equipment.
From here we went back down to the main road and made our way back down. We tallied 11.6 miles in exactly 6 hours. Not bad with an 8-year old! He absolutely crushed this trail and kept a strong pace throughout.
All in all, this trail is not the most scenic with radio gear and burns, but it was a nice extended early season hike to get ready for longer distances much higher. The trail switchbacks a lot and there are no real leg burning climbs throughout. In fact, this would be a great one to run. The parking lot was full when we got back and thankfully I had backed into my spot in the morning. A bunch of idiots parked in the middle of the lot which would make it difficult for many of the cars parked in the actual parking spots to get out. There is no bathroom at the trailhead and very minimal areas along the trail to care of business. Plan accordingly.