Hike Date: December 17, 2011
Distance: ~ 10 miles
Elevation: 4,342 feet
Trail(s): Stevenson Memorial Trail
Where’s it at? Off Hwy 29 just north of Calistoga


I was very pleasantly surprised with the views from the top of this one. I think I picked a perfect day to visit Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. It was a cold, crisp late fall day that was as clean and clear as the sky gets around here. There was some lingering fog in the valleys but nothing that obstructed the views, in fact I’d say it augmented them. You can judge for yourself from the pictures!

Mt. St. Helena is the highest peak in the North Bay and while I don’t know the ranking, it’s got to be up there in terms of the taller Bay Area peaks. Almost 1,000 feet taller than my old home mountain: Mt. Diablo. I also grew up with the myth that Mt. Diablo had one of the furthest views in terms of distance you can see from the top…and I remember about 2 months ago seeing a news story that in fact Mt. St. Helena had a much further view. Who knows… I’d have to say this was a much more scenic view than that of Mt. Diablo however!

You take Hwy 29 to get there. If coming from the south on 29, don’t forget that 29 turns into 128 unless you turn right in Calistoga. I made that mistake and drove an extra 20 minutes because of it.

This hike is fairly challenging. I was sort of on “hiking fire” yesterday when I went; in the sense that it was just one of those days that I wasn’t getting tired or needing rest at all. I’ll admit to being a little sore and stiff today though!

The hike is 5 miles if you go to the highest/furthest “West North Peak”, which is what I did. There are a couple other peaks that offer similar views with less hiking if you want though. The return trip is following the same exact path…there really aren’t any other trails to deviate and turn it into a loop.

Most of the hike is on very wide fire trail, so wide in fact that I think two vehicles could easily pass each other. I’m not the biggest fan of fire roads and if it weren’t for the panoramic views on this hike, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it all that much. I’ll leave it that I was unimpressed with the trail itself. Lots of boring switchbacks and just nothing natural feeling about it. I always like it best when the trail you’re on can be envisioned as one that native americans might’ve been using for a thousand years and it’s existence is owed to that of human traffic. The only single track section is the very beginning/end of it, maybe about .8 miles worth.

This trail really is uphill on the way there, and downhill on the way back, with very little deviation…so be ready to do 5 miles of continuous uphill followed by 5 of continuous down. I’d literally say there was probably 300 yards of those 5 miles where you are either walking on flat ground or get a short break while ascending or descending.

This is really a must do hike if you like the high places and big views. I strongly suggest going in the cooler months when the air is cleaner and you won’t die of heat exhaustion. The day I picked was perfect. It was a little windy (surprisingly more windy on the East slopes midway through than it was at the summit). Definitely put on some sunscreen because it’s very exposed, and I should’ve worn chapstick as well.

Get out there and do this hike, you won’t regret it, and there are so many good places to eat or drink afterward too.

Photos from Mt. St. Helena(click to enlarge)

Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-mt-st-helena-in-robert-louis-stevenson-state-park/ http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-mt-st-helena-in-robert-louis-stevenson-state-park/ http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-mt-st-helena-in-robert-louis-stevenson-state-park/
http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-mt-st-helena-in-robert-louis-stevenson-state-park/ http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-mt-st-helena-in-robert-louis-stevenson-state-park/ http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-mt-st-helena-in-robert-louis-stevenson-state-park/
Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park Hiking Mt. St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park

Directions to Stevenson Memorial Trail Trailhead


View Hiking to the top of Mt. St. Helena in a larger map

Weather at Calistoga, CA (3000+ ft lower)

Written on December 17th, 2011 in Hiking, The Whole Thing
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