For the ones who love to climb, California is full of very good spots to explore. But if you want to climb and discover one of the most famous landscape of the region, go to the Napa Valley where you’ll enjoy an amazing view from the top of Mount Saint Helena, in the Robert Louis Stevenson State Park.
It is 2 hours north from San Francisco but the beauty of the spot worths the ride. Mount Saint Helena is the highest point in the San Francisco Bay Area, located in the boundaries between Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties. Its volcanic origin gives a funny aspect to the rock and offers a lot of technical possibilities to the climbers.
How to get there?
“A fire road (gated) goes to the top, where there are radio and TV antennas. Most of the hike is along the fire road, however the lowest 1 mile is a hiking trail if you use the hiker’s trailhead. Along the fire road there are numerous rock outcrops popular for technical rock climbing.”
“Take Highway 29 north from Calistoga, where it becomes a winding highway climbing up the hills. You will see the sign “Robert Louis Stevenson State Park”. The hiker’s trailhead (2300 feet) is on the left side of the road at the saddle, parking area is on the right. The distance to North Peak of Mount St. Helena is about 5.5 miles from either trailhead.”
“Follow the hiking trail for 1 mile until you come out onto the fire road. Remember the location of the turn off, since the trail sign is somewhat hidden. Go left (up) on the fire road. After reaching the summit plateau there are turn offs that lead to South Peak, Middle Peak, etc. Follow the main road to North Peak.” (Thanks Summit Post).
When to go there and what to wear?
We went there on a summer sunny and clear day and it was perfect. But be careful, despite hot temperatures in the valley, the summit can be very windy and shady in the afternoon. Bring warm clothes if you don’t want to catch a cold!