Skyline Wilderness Park
There is more to do in Napa Valley than wine tasting! The Skyline Wilderness Park, located in the Coombsville region of the valley, has 26 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The park is an 850 acre wilderness area with mountain top views of the San Pablo Bay and Napa Valley.
Skyline Wilderness Park is located 3 miles east of center city, Napa. We stayed in the Silverado Resort, 6.4 miles north of the park. Our drive to the Skyline entrance was only 14 minutes. The park charges a $5 per vehicle entrance fee, which is well worth the price for parking and pre-hike bathroom facility use!
The Trail Loop
From the parking area, we walked south along the Lake Marie Road, and passed a gorgeous, stately eucalyptus tree. The “road” became more trail-like as we walked south and east.
A fig tree marks the 1.5 mile point. We should have turned left immediately after the tree, but due to following an old map, we walked beyond to connect to a path that is no longer used. You can see on our map that we took the old path, thinking that the section was not well maintained. A fence at the end of our “trail” made us realize that the path was not just overgrown, but intentionally rerouted.
Back on the true trail, we cross a bridge and joined the Thatchers Rim Rock Trail, a narrow and occasionally gnarly pathway.
We walked uphill from mile 1.7 to 3.3, a nice incline with periodic switchbacks and absolutely beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
As we neared the Sugarloaf summit, we saw trees that were damaged by the October 2017 Napa fire. We had been in Napa in August of that year. For this reason and the fact that I am an American Red Cross board member, I closely followed the media updates about the fire disaster. As we walked through this section, I couldn’t help but wonder at nature and its ability to recover from devastation.
When we checked into the park to pay our entrance fee, the attendant stated that some cows were missing somewhere in the park. Just before the crest of Sugarloaf Peak, we found the rogue cows, gathered on the end of a switchback. I am pretty sure that I heard them whisper, “Shhhh…don’t tell our location”.
Sugarloaf Peak, 3.3 miles from the trailhead and 1,612′ above sea level, provided us with a great view of the bay, vineyards and the town of Napa.
We descended via a series of switch backs for approximately .7 of a mile, crossed a small stream, and then followed the Skyline Trail.
We walked less than a mile to reach Lake Marie, that was brown due to many recent rainstorms. At this 4.8 mile point, we stopped for a snack, sitting on a park bench near the rim of the lake. We opted to picnic Napa-style. We opened one of my favorite Mondavi Bordeaux blends and ate fresh salads from the Silverado Market.
It was hard to pull ourselves away from the view, the food and the wine, but we still had over 3 miles to complete. Fortunately, the remaining hike was a gentle decline over rolling hills.
Throughout the day, mountain bikers and equestrians passed us on the trail. It’s absolutely wonderful to see people enjoying the park and trails in a variety of methods.
At mile 7.6 we reconnected with Lake Marie Road and wrapped up our hike at 8.1 miles. I classify this hike as moderate, even though the elevation change is more than 1,500′. The trail is narrow, but well maintained and not overly saturated with rocks or steep sections.
|Hike difficulty classifications (link)|
|Difficulty||Moderate to difficult|
|Geographic location||Napa Valley, California|
|Trailhead parking options||Skyline Wilderness Park|
|Trail amenities||Bathrooms with running water at the trailhead|
|Elevation - trailhead||168'|
|Elevation - highest peak||1,632'|
|Total mileage||8.1 miles|
|Water sources||Tap water in bathrooms; streams|
|Highlights||View of Napa Valley and the San Pablo Bay; Lake Marie|