Napa: Skyline Wilderness Park-Lake Marie-Rim Rock-Sugarloaf Peak-Tuteur Loop-Skyline Trail Hike

Thursday, November 17, 2016

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Skyline Wilderness Park is an 850-acre wilderness area at the southeast corner of Napa. Skyline has over 25 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and equestrian use. The two-and-a-half mile main trail leads to Lake Marie at the eastern end. There’s also an alternate route along the ridge trail which is a much better workout but is not for those out of shape. From this trail on a clear day, you can see San Francisco Bay, Mt. Tamalpais and Mt. Diablo. Beautiful. *1

This hike takes you on a clockwise loop around the perimeter of the park from Lake Marie Rd and Thatcher Rim Rock Trail up to Sugarloaf Peak. It drops down into the canyon and continues along the creek through the dense woodlands on the Skyline Trail to the high grasslands. The hike includes a short jaunt out to the Skyline Park South boundary on the Tuteur Loop Trail.

Start from the Skyline Park entrance on Imola Ave.

Walk around the SW section of the park from the day use parking lot. You’ll pass the archery range, social center and habitat garden towards the trailhead at Lake Marie Rd.

The paved road comes to a  junction with a gravel road, follow the green trails sign through the fence lined path along Lake Camille to the Lake Marie Rd Trailhead junction.

Turn left onto Lake Marie Rd, the broad fire road heads east along the privately held Camp Coombs. It continues uphill through the grassy hillside with scattered oaks and buckeyes.

The road leads to the horse water trough filled with goldfishes on the left and a small cave on the right. It continues up through the beautiful shaded woodland to a scenic vista overlook of Napa Valley.

The terrain becomes a bit rocky as the road ascends with open views of the park’s highest peak at Sugarloaf Mountain.

Stay on Lake Marie Rd towards Bayleaf Trail. At the first trail split, turn left and follow the connector trail up the steps to the wooden bridge crossing over Marie Creek. It leads to the next trail junction at Manzanita Trail.

Turn left onto Manzanita Trail followed by an immediate right onto Thatcher Rim Rock Trail. The narrow single track steadily climbs through the scattered oaks along the grassy slope with a series of switchbacks.

Thatcher Rim Rock Trail continues past the exposed rocky outcroppings around the north side of Sugarloaf Mountain.

The trail cuts in and out of the shaded woodland with magnificent views of the North Bay marshes and mountains.

Thatcher Rim Rock Trail travels across the upper grasslands through the oak woodland along the park’s north boundary.

Enjoy the fabulous views of Sugarloaf Peak and the expansive Napa Valley!

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The single track trail continues to traverse across the open hillside and low rock outcroppings.

Thatcher Rim Rock Trail leads you into the beautiful oak forest to the round rock at Sugarloaf Peak at 1630 feet.

The trail levels out for a short distance before dropping downhill through the woodland with the occasional glimpse of the mountain ridges.

Thatcher Rim Rock Trail emerges from the forest out onto the upper grasslands.

Enjoy the marvelous bay views, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge towers and Sutro Tower!

The single track trail continues down the mountain on rocky terrain as it heads south into the wooded canyon.

Thatcher Rim Rock Trail comes to a T junction at Skyline Trail, turn left onto Skyline and head east along Marie Creek to the Bay Area Ridge/Tutuer Loop Trail junction.

Turn right to begin the counter clockwise stroll on the Tuteur Loop Trail. The trail leads you across the creek into the woods through private owned property at the park’s south boundary.

Tuteur Loop continues on a single track trail as it winds through the gorgeous lush riparian landscape.

The next creek crossing leads you out across the open grassland back into the park.

Continue straight on Skyline Trail, it travels westward through the shaded woodland along the creek towards Lake Marie.

Skyline winds its way uphill through the beautiful dense ferns and bays to Lake Marie Rd junction near the dam.

Go left to stay on Skyline, the trail levels out as it continues along the south side of the lake to the old mining cabin site with a full standing brick chimney.

At the next trail split, go left to stay on Skyline Trail. It rises out of the woodland to the Buckeye Trail junction.

Stay on Skyline Trail, it takes you out across the grassy slope with a view of the valley before cutting back into the forest.

The trail travels along the SW edge of the park to a scenic overlook area atop the grassy knoll at around 980 feet.

Enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding valley and mountains!

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Skyline drops down the hill on a rocky trail to the Buckeye/Passini Rd junction.

Go left to stay on Skyline Trail, the gentle terrain cuts across the shaded hillside to the upper open grasslands.

Enjoy the spectacular views of the North Bay marshes, quarry, mountains, and valleys!

Skyline Trail follows an old stone wall along the western perimeter of the park.

The trail stay along the top of the ridge with phenomenal North Bay views!

Stay on Skyline Trail at the Buckeye and Lower Skyline Trail junctions. The trail turns north as it drops down the hill through the oaks onto rocky terrain.

Skyline Trail continues across the sunny grassy slopes with a steep drop towards the valley.

Enjoy the marvelous views!

At the trail split, go straight to stay on Skyline, pass Buckeye/River to Ridge Trail junctions.

Turn right and return on Lake Marie Rd to the park’s trailhead.

Continue straight on the gravel road and explore the amenities at the north side of the park. You’ll pass the horse arena, the camping & picnic areas, and the disc golf course on the return to the parking lot.

Take a drive and hike the trails less traveled! This is a fantastic challenging loop around the perimeter of Skyline Park with spectacular vistas and dense woodlands!

*1 https://www.visitnapavalley.com/listing/skyline-wilderness-park/252/

Stats:
10.6 Miles with 2227′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1581′
Time: 5.5 hours with multiple stops
Hike: Moderate-challenging
Parking Fee: Skyline Wilderness Park. Day Use-$5 per car/up to 4 persons
Water & restrooms available
No Dogs Allowed on Trails
Weather: Sunny and cool with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the low 50’s to the low 60’s with NE > NW  winds.
Ask for trail map at time of entry

Directions: Trailhead > S-Lake Marie Rd > L-Bayleaf Tr > L-Manzanita Tr > R-Thatcher Rim Rock Tr > Sugarloaf Peak > S-Thatcher Rim Rock Tr > L-Skyline Tr > R-Ridge Tr > Tuteur Loop Tr > S-Skyline Tr > L-Lake Marie Rd 

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Print Trail Map

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4 Comments

  1. Does this itinerary on the Thatcher Rim Rock trail include the descend with very loose rocks/gravels? I saw on some posts about the tough and slippery descend.

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  2. Abby, Yes, this clockwise loop descends the rocky section of Thatcher Rim Rock Trail, you can opt to go counter clockwise and climb up that segment. Do whichever way you’re comfortable with and wear good hiking shoes.

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