It still amazes me how even when a parking lot if full and the trail has multiple people on it at the get-go that a mile or so in you can feel practically alone in the wilderness.
Selfishly, I don’t want to encourage people to travel the less common trails, the longer ones or even more difficult ones. Altruistically, I highly recommend getting a little outside your comfort zone to explore deeper into the woods.
On this particular Saturday, Sue and I explored many of the trails in Bothe-Napa Valley State Park on our 5-plus mile hike. Considering this is a popular park to camp in and it was a holiday weekend, the lack of people on the trails farther in was amazing.
What’s nice about this trail system is all of the loops—12. In all, there are 10 miles of trails in the 1,900-acre park.
I almost made it to the top of Coyote Peak at 1,170 feet. I was told it was around the corner and up a bit. Well, it just kept going and I was now out of sight and earshot from my hiking partner. OK, so what really got me to turn around is as the overgrown trail narrowed I heard a loud sound come from the underbrush. There you have it. Unknown wildlife had me scrambling downhill.
No worries—plenty of good views without that higher elevation. At times Mount Saint Helena came into view as well as the Napa Valley. We probably saw Upper Ritchey Canyon, too, but that is not a point of interest familiar to me.
Other than having to traipse through lush green grasses that were as tall as me, the trails were in good shape. They varied, though, with some wide enough for two people like they were a former road, others compact dirt, while others required looking down because they were rocky. I never needed my poles.
At times Ritchey Creek provided a melodic cadence as we walked. As we climbed though, water was scarce. Only once did we have to cross a small swath of trickling water.
While it wasn’t a wildflower hike per se, the yellow-orange of the diplacus and common woolly sunflower were abundant in multiple areas. Some of the other flowers were the California helianthella, ceanothus, brodiaeas and Indian paintbrush.
At various locations evidence of the 2020 Glass Fire that charred parts of Napa and Sonoma counties were obvious.
This park is between St. Helena and Calistoga on the west side of the valley. As with most state parks, dogs are not allowed on trails.