Robert Louis Stevenson: Stevenson Memorial-Mount St Helena North Peak Trail Hike

Friday, May 12, 2017

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Robert Louis Stevenson State Park is the place where the famous author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped spent his honeymoon in 1880. Although nothing remains of Stevenson’s cabin, the site is identified on the trail to the summit. Hiking is the main activity at this undeveloped park. The area features rough terrain, with evergreen forests in the canyons on north-facing slopes and chaparral on the south-facing slopes. There is a five-mile hike to the top of Mt. St. Helena from which one can see much of the San Francisco Bay Area. On good days the top of Mt. Shasta can be seen, 192 miles in the distance.*2

The Stevenson Memorial Trail takes you from the parking lot on Highway 29 to the Mt St Helena Trail. The first mile of the trail traverses through the beautiful forest along a shady single track trail.

The trail continues on rocky terrain up to the Stevenson Memorial.  Although nothing remains of Stevenson’s cabin, the site is identified by a stone monument on the trail to the summit.*1

Follow the sign post to stay on Stevenson Memorial Trail, it ascends on rough rocky terrain to the junction of Mt St Helena Trail.

At the junction, turn left onto Mt St Helena Trail; an old logging road that climbs to the summit over about four miles. While the wide dirt road to the summit lacks the appeal of a single-track trail, the eye-popping views of the terrain below are a welcome trade-off. *3

Wildflowers!

The broad fire road continues uphill to “Bubble Wall”, a popular spot for rock climbing.

Enjoy the marvelous views!

The gently graded fire road continues uphill with little or no shade as it winds through the chaparral-covered slopes to mile post 2.1.

Enjoy the impressive rock outcrops!

The views are ever expanding at every turn up the mountain-enjoy!

Keep moving forward-the fire road weaves around the mountainside below the dramatic rock outcroppings.

Gorgeous wildflowers!

Enjoy the glorious panoramas!

The trail snakes up towards the junction to the transmission towers at Mt St Helena South Peak-4003 feet.

Mt St Helena South Peak-enjoy the gorgeous views of the Sonoma Mountains and the Geysers!

Mt St Helena Trail continues northward through chaparral, brush, and pines.

The last stretch up to the summit is the steepest part of the hike.

Check out the panoramic views-WOW!

Arrive at Mt St Helena Summit at 4343 feet.

Sit awhile and take in the breathtaking mountain top views! The view from the summit includes the nearby geyser country and when weather permits distant mountains such as Lassen, Shasta and the Sierra Nevada can be seen. You can also take in the views from the mountain south to the prominent Bay Area peaks, Mounts Diablo and Tamalpais.*1  The peak north of Calistoga looms large above the rolling hills of Napa and Sonoma counties in the Northern California Wine Country. *3

Spectacular panoramic views!

Retrace your steps back down the mountain to the trailhead at Hwy 29.

This is a great trail to take on a cooler day as it can be very hot during the summer. The hike to the summit is 10 miles round trip with over 1,800-foot elevation gain. The views are well worth the hike, for a true top-of-the-world experience.*1 In winter and spring, it can be cold and windy on top, and a shirt soaked with perspiration can turn you into a human ice cube. So always bring a spare shirt and windbreaker. Wear good hiking boots for support and for traction.

*1 http://napavalleystateparks.org/robert-louis-stevenson-state-park/
*2 https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=472
*3 https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/mount-saint-helena-trail–2

Stats:
10.24 Miles with 1934′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 4333′
Time: 5 hours with multiple stops
Hike: Moderate-some rocky terrain.
Parking: No fee parking provided off Highway 29 at the Mt. St. Helena Trailhead, 7 miles north of Calistoga. The Stevenson Memorial Trail up to Mt. St. Helena is on the left (North) side of the road
No facilities & no water. Bring water & food/snacks
NO DOGS ALLOWED-To protect the park’s wildlife and other natural resources, dogs are not permitted in this park.

Weather: Mostly sunny, partly cloudy and breezy. Temps ranging from the high 50’s to the high 60’s with brisk NW winds

 

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2 Comments

  1. Really awesome pics! Lots of wildflowers with some I haven’t seen before (grayish/purple). I’ve never hiked this trail. Looks like a great hike! Thanks, Nancy for sharing.

    Like

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