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Backpacker Magazine – September 2012

Top 3: Wine Country Hikes

The fine fall colors and comfortable weather of harvest season will make you want to raise a glass.

by: Kenzi Wilbur

Mt. St. Helena (Heller Family Vineyards)
Mt. St. Helena (Heller Family Vineyards)

Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, CA
Mt. St. Helena
Snag summit views of vine-latticed valleys.

Combine Napa Valley’s claims to fame—pastoral landscapes and premium wine—on this 10-mile out-and-back to a 4,343-foot summit just north of Calistoga. The dry Mediterranean climate, so amenable to viniculture, means that from May to October you’re all but guaranteed a sunny day. Begin on the Stevenson Memorial Trail, switchbacking up 700 feet in .8 mile through blue oak. Turn left on the Mt. St. Helena Trail (a fire road) for your next four miles. This section and the flat summit provide views of a tapestry of meticulously cultivated vines, which turn gold and crimson in October. Retrace your steps, then sip world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from Chateau Montelena’s century-old vineyards (, 6.2 road-miles south. (707-942-4575; Trip data

The way From Calistoga, take CA 29 N 8.2 miles and turn right into a small parking area at the crest of a hill. The trailhead is across the road.

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Sep 20, 2012

This is not a 'fire road' it's a road! There is a communications complex at the summit and service trucks use this road. The day I walked it there were at least 10 trucks going by. Also since this is mostly a road, it's not that interesting.

I would recommend it as a bike route.

A better walk is the trail south from the same parking area to Table rock (4.4 mi. out and back).

If you go in the summer bring lots of water. It gets HOT!

Dave Duma
Sep 20, 2012

I don't know how the author picked Lakewood from among all the wineries on Seneca Lake.


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