Hike Date: October 13, 2012
Distance: ~ 6 miles
Trail(s): Oat Hill Mine Trail
Where’s it at? Calistoga off Silverado Trail


The Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga lies just south of Robert Louis Stevenson State Park and the looming Mount Saint Helena. This whole area is gorgeous year-round but my favorites are the fall colors and the crisp clear air in the winter here. The trail is 8+ miles long in its entirety with three different trailheads to choose from: The Palisades Trailhead, Aetna Springs Road Trailhead and the easier to get to Calistoga Trailhead, which is where I parked for this hike.

The trail was originally traveled by wagons carrying goods from the cinnabar mine used to produce quicksilver (mercury) from the late 1800s through the late 1960s. The mines themselves are not open to the public and you will not see any of them along this trail. There is a site at the trail junction called “Holms Place” which was apparently a homestead with a log cabin in the late 1800s. The brochure claims that you can see some remnants of this home but I wasn’t able to see anything in the spot marked as its location on the map available at the trailhead. The only historic sightings I found were the remnants of old wagon wheel ruts on what must’ve been a very rough ride carrying ore down from the mines once upon a time.

If your thing is to hike around on the palisades, you might be better served to start from the Table Rock Trail in Robert Louis Stevenson which is a higher elevation and gets you to rocks much more quickly and easily. I’d done that hike a few times last year and it’s a great one! There’s something about bouldering onto the rocks up on the palisades and relaxing with the gorgeous napa valley view that’s sure to boost your mood.

This hike was a little bit challenging but not bad. I did pass one very tired and angry hiker on my trip that was complaining about how short the locals in Calistoga had made the trail sound. “They said 10 minutes to the palisades!” to which I replied “You’ve got about another 10 minutes” as I was heading back from my hike. It’s just that it’s almost exclusively uphill on the way in and exclusively downhill onthe way out, with a trail that demands that you pay a lot of attention to your footing.

The views here are gorgeous both on the trail and looking down into the valley. When I went it was early fall but a lot of the deciduous trees were already in full color and yellow leaves lined the trail. Watch out though, it’s VERY dusty up around here. My white socks were solid brown when I got back…sure felt good to slip on my flip flops for the drive home.

Definitely a great hike in the napa valley this one is. I hope to go back soon and explore the southern-most section of this trail down to Aetna Springs.

Photos from a Hike on the Oat Hill Mine Trail (click to enlarge)

Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga
Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga
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Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga
Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga
Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga
Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga

Directions to Calistoga Trailhead for Oat Hill Mine Trail


View Hiking the Oat Hill Mine Trail from Calistoga in a larger map

Weather at Calistoga, CA