Hike Date: December 24, 2011
Distance: ~ 6 miles
Trail(s): Table Rock Trail, Palisades Trail
Where’s it at? Off Hwy 29 between Calistoga and Middletown


I’d hiked to Mount Saint Helena just a week ago and a hiker told me about the other trail from the same parking lot: Table Rock and the Palisades Trail. I heard the same thing from a brother-in-law who said it was a great hike. So? Had to try it and did so on my Friday off this last week. No disappointments here!

The parking lot is free, even though it’s a State Park. It is the same parking lot off Hwy 29 as you’d use to get to Mount Saint Helena and follows shortly after you see the sign that you’ve entered Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. I’m told by EVERYONE I’ve run into on the two trails here that you should be careful about what you leave behind in your vehicle. Sounds like they have a lot of break-ins. I’ve been lucky so far I guess.

The trailhead for Table Rock is on the right side of Hwy 29 as you are heading northbound. The trailhead is on the south end of the lot and begins ascending immediately Southeastward. It starts out as a fairly wide trail but becomes a narrow single track soon enough. As you begin you are on the North-facing slopes of a large hill until you reach it’s summit. At that time you run into a lot of different options and I’ll admit I wasn’t real sure which way to go. There isn’t really any signage up here. You have enough identifiable rocky outcrops to make getting lost hard, but alas, I did get lost on the way back on this hike. It was strange…I knew I’d gotten off the trail at one point so I backtracked to the last spot I was sure I was on the trail, and I began progressing again but again got lost. I guess it’s an area where the trail is easy to notice only in one direction. During my momentary loss of direction, I did stumble upon a small natural spring. Could this be the infamous source of “Calistoga water”? Hmm…

I’ve never before been SNARED on a hiking trail. Snagged? Sure. But I literally walked into somebody’s snare trap and got stuck. My leg just froze mid-step and I bailed pretty good. I got a cut on the very apex of my skull…from the ground. Good bail for sure.

Table Rock appears after about 2.3 miles and is signed. Actually, I wasn’t sure exactly which rock was Table Rock (if it is a single rock), but the whole area is like a lunar landscape with the rocks near the sign. Some pretty good views await here and it’s a great spot to grab a snack or lunch as you overlook Calistoga, Saint Helena and most of the wine country landscape. It’s nothing like the view from Mount Saint Helena’s summit, but the hike itself here is much much better an experience if you ask me. I always like when you have freedom to choose from 5 different small trails or even deviate from them when you can see your destination in the distance.

As for difficulty this one doesn’t have very much elevation gain and I didn’t take the entire trail so the distance wasn’t too bad. The trail itself was a little bit tricky to navigate in a few spots. It’s wet in places from the natural spring(s) in the area, and in others it’s just plain slippery due to the steepness and fact you’re walking on a rocky not-so-maintained trail. I got a little bit hotter on this hike than the one to the top of Mount Saint Helena with about the same weather.

I’m impressed with Robert Louis Stevenson’s dandy hikes and expect I’ll return here to see another season or two.

Photos from hiking Table Rock and Palisades Trail (click to enlarge)

A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail
A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail
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http://timsartoris.com/hiking-table-rock-and-the-palisades-trail/ http://timsartoris.com/hiking-table-rock-and-the-palisades-trail/ http://timsartoris.com/hiking-table-rock-and-the-palisades-trail/
A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail
A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail
A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail
A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail
A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail
A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail A hike in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to Table Rock and the Palisades Trail

Directions to Robert Louis Stevenson SP


View Hiking Table Rock and the Palisades Trail in a larger map

Weather at Calistoga, CA (2,000 Ft. Lower)

Written on December 28th, 2011 in Hiking, The Whole Thing
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