Hike Date: March 31, 2012
Distance: ~ 5 miles
Trail(s): Rector Reservoir Trail
Where’s it at? Yountville off Silverado Highway


TIP: The Trailhead is a little tricky to find. Go north on the Silverado Trail and pass Yountville Crossroads. Park along the road just before the Napa Weights and Measures and Napa County Maintenance Yard. There are two “driveways” with trucks and heavy equipment in them and the trailhead is along a chain link fence just south of the southern of these. If you see the Dept. of Fish and Game HQ building on the left, or pass over Chase Creek, you’ve gone too far. You can’t see the trailhead from the road, but if you look closely you can make out the trail about 40 yards up in the hill. The trailhead itself is basically right next to the chain link fence at the southern of the driveways. Even on Google Maps satellite view you can tell the beginning is often flooded. I parked right next to a “Park off pavement” sign for reference.

The beginning was VERY flooded and muddy when I went. I immediately had two very muddy and soggy hiking boots…there was no getting around walking through mud puddles to get started. Granted I went in early Spring and shortly after a rainfall, but it looks like this area is probably muddy for half the year. The wet conditions continue on for a while on the first leg of the hike.

This trail is a pretty rough single track, you can tell that it doesn’t get heavy use and wasn’t built by a crew but rather trailblazed by locals. It starts out taking you along a presumably seasonal creek (not quite Chase creek) as you head upward on the grassy hill. Plenty of oak trees and wildflowers lined the trail, and areas of the trail were very rocky. The trail is on the steeper side and doesn’t offer a lot of flatness anywhere until you get to the top. In one section you cross the creek and there were miniature waterfalls filling the air with the sounds of a babbling creek.

As you approach the top you get your first fork, though it’s pretty hard to notice on the way up. I stayed to the right and continued on the trail most obviously leading to the summit. Another fork awaits at the ridgeline with a trail to the left which clearly offers a better view of the reservoir, and a trail to the right which clearly offers a better view of the Napa Valley, and has a slightly higher elevation at around 1200 feet. As you begin to get your first views of the reservoir you’re also treated to the southern end of the “Palisades” with a ton of rocky outcrops off to the east toward Berryessa.

I started out by taking the trail to the right, and followed it to the tops of two separate hills. Each offers a nice set of rocks to stop for a drink and a snack and take in the view of Rector Reservoir and valley below. I backtracked and this time when I got back to the trail junction, I continued along on what was originally the left trail. The summit of this hill was a lot more tree covered and didn’t offer as nice a view, and in areas the trail all but disappears as you scramble ahead on large rocks. If you keep going a little bit over the top of the hill you get a totally different view of the reservoir below and get good views of the northern part of the valley. Keep going still and you’ll find another trail that turns this into a small loop where you end up back on the main trail at the first hard-to-find junction. Watch out though, from the summit onward and all the way back to the main trail I saw a lot of poison oak lining the trail!

This was a great hike. What it lacks in distance was made up for by the steepness and the fact that on almost every step you are not walking flat-footed but rather having to use your calves and ankles a lot. I was very pleasantly surprised by this hidden gem of a hike in Yountville. Try it for yourself.

Photos from Rector Reservoir Hike (click to enlarge)

Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail
Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail
http://timsartoris.com/blog/hike-above-rector-reservoir-in-yountville/ http://timsartoris.com/blog/hike-above-rector-reservoir-in-yountville/ http://timsartoris.com/blog/hike-above-rector-reservoir-in-yountville/
http://timsartoris.com/blog/hike-above-rector-reservoir-in-yountville/ http://timsartoris.com/blog/hike-above-rector-reservoir-in-yountville/ http://timsartoris.com/blog/hike-above-rector-reservoir-in-yountville/
Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail
Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail
Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail
Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail
Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail
Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail
Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail Hiking the Rector Reservoir Trail

Directions to Rector Reservoir Trailhead


View Hiking Rector Reservoir in a larger map

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