A Glimpse of Mt. Saint Helena

The other day Alex and I had our first weekend off together in a long time and we had been feeling lazy…and broke.  So we decided to do something free and active.  We decided to climb Mt. Saint Helena, and it was a wonderful/crazy idea.  I actually have never climbed a mountain besides Vesuvius, and honestly it is not that hard considering most tours (and mine) drive you more than 75% of the way up, so while I was the one who suggested climbing the mountain I was more than wary of what I had gotten us into.  Mt. Saint Helena is the tallest mountain in Sonoma County and the hike is 5 miles up 2,000ft and of course you always have to go back down.  Alex and I did it however and it only took us 4 1/2 hours!  I am amazed that I was able to climb the mountain and it was utterly exhilarating to have accomplished this. Here are some photos from our awesome adventure!

This was one of the first views we had as we climbed the mountain.  The first 1/2 hour was in the trees and then we reached the fire trail and were greeted with this view
This was one of the first views we had as we climbed the mountain. The first 1/2 hour was in the trees and then we reached the fire trail and were greeted with this view
Then we realized there would not be any shade for the next 4 hours..... BRING LOTS OF WATER!
Then we realized there would not be any shade for the next 4 hours….. BRING LOTS OF WATER!
Still so far to go!  The summit looked close but this was about an hour away from the top
Still so far to go! The summit looked close but this was about an hour away from the top
After 2 hours we reached the summit and this was our first view after a the steepest part of the trail.  We decided to take the fork to the southern summit too which was much closer than the northern summit.
After 2 1/2 hours we reached the summit and this was our first view after a the steepest part of the trail. We decided to take the fork to the southern summit too which was much closer than the northern summit.
Then we turned the corner and were greeted with the view of Napa Valley, Calistoga and Alexander Valley
Then we turned the corner and were greeted with the view of Napa Valley, Calistoga and Alexander Valley

We then spent about 20 minutes searching for the picnic benches.  Don’t fret they are behind the cell towers and to get there you just need to take the second trail on the right.  There will be 3 benches with a map of the vista.

We made it!
We made it!
On a clear day you can see Mt. Diablo in the East Bay, Lake Berryessa in Napa and sometimes the Sierras
On a clear day you can see Mt. Diablo in the East Bay, Lake Berryessa in Napa and sometimes the Sierras
Look at that view!  So excited to be on a mountain!
Look at that view! So excited to be on a mountain!

Mt. Saint Helena is located on Highway 29 in Calistoga, CA.  To reach Louis Robert Stevenson Park simply follow Highway 29 up the mountain until you see a sign on the right side of the road and a parking lot on the left; pull in either to the right or the left as they both count as parking lots.  The trail head is on the right hand side.  The beginning is fairly simple with a few switchbacks as you head up the mountain and then you will reach the Louis Robert Stevenson memorial.  Once you reach this point which should take about 20 minutes take the eroded/barely there trail off to your right.  Don’t take the scary trail up to the cave, this will not take you to the top of the mountain.  The trail on your right will connect to a fire road, turn left and head straight on till morning or at least to the top of the mountain.  It is a great hike just know if you go in the summer make sure to bring plenty of water.  We brought about 2 1/2 liters of water and really I wish it had been more.  Also it is great to bring lunch because there are picnic benches at the summit where you can relax and enjoy the view before heading back down the mountain.

View of the valley
View of the valley

If you find yourself in Sonoma County and you have found that you have been wine tasting too much in Healdsburg and need a break than definitely head to Mt. Saint Helena, also the famous Chateau Montelena (the winery from the movie “Bottle Shock”) is at the bottom of the mountain.

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