Hike Date: February 18, 2012
Distance: ~ 9 miles
Trail(s): Manzanita Trail, Thatcher Rim Rock Trail, Skyline Trail, Chaparral Trail, Marie Creek Trail, Lake Marie Road
Where’s it at? Skyline Wilderness Park in eastern Napa, CA


Sugarloaf Peak lies within Skyline Wilerness Park on the southeastern part of Napa. Skyline Wilderness has a ton of activities available. It has a very nice disc golf course, a number of hiking trails, which are shared between hikers, bikers and equestrians, camping facilities, an archery range, picnic facilities, and a native plant society. The park is set aside for public use to offer a natural setting for folks who love nature.

The parking lot has various fees (check their website), but currently the day-use parking fee is $5 per vehicle, with a limit of 4 people per vehicle. It’s a dollar more for each additional person. The parking lot has water and restroom facilities available.

I’ve been coming here for a number of years now, though mostly for disc golfing. Only having moved to Napa have I chosen to explore it’s hiking trails. There are a number of great views to be had at the higher elevations. I believe with this hike that I’ve completed hiking the entire park now. If it weren’t for the cost to park here it would probably be my local favorite.

On this hike I took a number of different trails to make a loop out of hiking to the summit of Sugarloaf Peak, at an elevation of 1630 feet. From the parking lot take the Manzanita Trail. You can follow signs to the disc golf course if you’re confused on where the trailhead is. I do find it odd that the best trail signage in the park is up on the trails itself, leaving you guessing while in the parking lot. I think they could improve that a little bit, not to complain!

From the Manzanita trail, take a left on the Thatcher Rim Rock Trail which will take you to the peak. The trail is fairly steep in many areas and does a good amount of just plain uphill hiking. I found it to be a perfect single track trail in the sense that rather than switchback after switchback offering the same views from increasing elevations, it winds around hillsides giving you a 360 view of the park when all is said and done. if I had to rate this hike I would probably call it moderate to strenuous. All said and done the hike I did was about 9 miles and much of the beginning was steep uphill and as you come over the peak there are areas that are very steep and a bit slippery.

The summit of Sugarloaf Peak itself is a bit dull, granted it is nice to have a little shade and a rock to sit on, but the view is obstructed in every direction from the peak proper. The best views are as you make a right turn knowing you’re almost at the top, or after you begin descending the southeast side and come around the hill a bit around Lake Marie.

After heading down from the summit, take a right turn on the Chaparral Trail (for this hike, though the Skyline Trail is nice too, I’d just hiked it already). The Chaparral Trail gives you some nice overhead views of Lake Marie as you pass by. Eventually you will come to a fork that shows one trail for hikes and another for bikers and horses, which is now the Marie Creek Trail. Needless to say take the “hikers” portion of the trail here, which was the left fork. At this point the mostly wide-open grassy hillside turns into a cooler, mossy creekside trail. You cross the creek in a few spots but it was nothing dangerous or slippery, there was very little water and I went in the middle of winter. I did have a few horses pass me once I got to the Marie Creek trail.

Continue along the Marie Creek Trail for a while. I eventually went up to the Lake Marie Road and hiked by a small body of water owned by the Napa State hospital. I made a bit of a wrong turn thinking it was a shortcut back to the car where I took the road all the way back to the Marie Creek Trail and eventually was back on the Manzanita Trail which took me back to my car. Instead you can walk on the Skyline Wilderness Parking lot road between the equestrian area and archery range for the easiest journey back to where you parked.

All in all this was a great hike. It had a good mix of exercise, views, green grass (in Winter/spring) with wildflowers blooming, and serenity. I didn’t see anybody else until I got to Lake Marie and on the return leg along the Marie Creek trail.

Photos from Skyline Wilderness Park (click to enlarge)

Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park
Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park
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Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park
Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park
Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park
Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park
Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park
Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park
Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park   Hiking a loop trail to Sugarloaf Peak in Skyline Wilderness Park

Directions to Skyline Wilderness Park


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