Hike Date: August 25, 2012
Distance: ~ 7 miles
Trail(s): Redwood Trail, Ritchey Canyon Trail, Spring Trail
Where’s it at? Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, off Hwy 29 in Calistoga


Bothe-Napa Valley State Park in Calistoga has over 10 miles of trails to choose from, and is (in my wording) a sister park to Bale Grist Mill, another park just south. There is a History trail between the two which I’ve done on a previous visit. While there is hiking, equestrian and other activities within the park, I’ve so far only come to hike. The most popular trail, one which I’d done previously, is the hike up to Coyote Peak. That is a much shorter but more strenuous hike than the one I took on this visit.

After paying $8 for day use parking and receiving a nice brochure and map, you can continue straight to a parking area that is obviously a trailhead. There’s a sign here with some warnings, rules, and a larger map. Hiking up this trail you quickly pass a small RV area on your left and shortly thereafter the camping area on your right, just across Ritchey Creek. On this day my destination was in the very back of the park, something called Traverso Homestead. I really had no idea what to expect there, but honestly, the destination itself was a little disappointing…there really isn’t much there at all.

I think the best time to go here is in Fall. There are a ton of trees that show color and lose their leaves, as well as the occasional majestic redwood. The trail is sometimes covered with yellow and orange leaves making it extra scenic. The thing about this park is that the scenery is all at ground level. There aren’t really, that I’ve discovered at least, any great outlooks or distant views of wine country as you might expect there would be. This is epitomized when doing the hike to Coyote Peak where after a fairly strenuous uphill hike you find yourself on an obvious peak, but so forested that you can’t see any distance in any direction at all, even if you go out of your way to find an opening!

The trail up to Traverso Homestead was pretty fun I have to say, despite the disppointing ending. I’m not sure if this is due to budget/park stewardship changes, or what, but the trail seemed like it hadn’t had someone come by to maintain it in years. There were a lot of places where trees had fallen to cover the trail, some which you could climb over, some which you could duck under, and others that forced hikers to create a new path around the obstacle. Additionally, poison oak grows rampantly in this park, I noticed the most of it about 2/3 of the way up this trail.

After a while of hiking and feeling like you’re the first one here in a decade, you will come to an obvious end of the trail under some giant redwoods. The only remains that I could find of the homestead were a metal sheet (probably used for a wall), a sink, and an old metal twin sized bed frame. There is a grave marker here and it had an old looking porcelain bowl at it’s base with some dead flowers in it. Seemed obvious someone occasionally still visits the old loved one that died here. Aside from that though, there really is nothing of interest at the end and after about a 5 minute break I was backtracking my steps ready to journey back home.

The trail itself on this hike was great and definitely interesting. If I had to give advice on which trail to take when visiting this park, I”d probably rank it as the history trail being my favorite, then Coyote Peak, and lastly this hike to Traverso Homestead. If you’re into history, whether you hike the History Trail to Bale Grist Mill, or not, you can walk a hundred yards up that trail and get to an old cemetery with a number of 1850-ish grave markers.

Photos from Hiking to Traverso Homestead (click to enlarge)

Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park
Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park
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Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park
Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park Hiking to Traverso Homestead in Bothe-Napa State Park


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Written on August 25th, 2012 in Hiking, The Whole Thing
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