Bothe-Napa Valley State Park has a very diverse landscape including the farthest inland redwoods in a California State Park, tanoaks, Douglas fir, maples and madrones. The maples were turning yellow and so was all of the poison oak! The bosslady was up late the night before trying to figure out our hike for the weekend. Really need to start planning sooner, but life happens and we were busy watching Tyler Florence’s latest film screening of Uncrushable about the fires in wine country last year. This might have been why she decided to stay in wine country for our hike. Subliminal messages…or another force pulling on her to make this decision? Read to the bottom to find out!
Bothe-Napa Valley SP
We live just over the hill from Napa Valley so we were able to sleep in a little and still start the hike at a decent hour. It was a chilly start and we would have warmed up faster if we weren’t busy stopping and taking in all the views! Redwood trail takes you from the parking lot through oak woodlands and onto a nice wide path with dense forest on one side and Ritchey Creek on the other side. We opted to go clockwise on this hike and went up Coyote Peak trail to the top of the park at 1,170 feet.
Coyote Peak Trail
Coyote Peak trail veers off to the left from Redwood trail and begins to narrow and gently climb. We hiked up, down and around the mountain getting higher and higher above the creek below. Jackets came off and our muscles were all warmed up by the time we popped out of the forest canopy to get the first glimpses of the canyon views! The canyon is filled with dense evergreens and dots of yellow. Guessing they were maples but they were so far away we couldn’t be sure. We started running into people hiking from the other direction at the intersection of Coyote Peak trail and the spur to get to Coyote Peak. This is where we had the best expansive views in the park! It is totally worth going to this spot for the views!
After taking several pics we waited our turn to go up the slippery rocks to head to the peak. Most of the other hikers opted to not go up to the top. We knew the views at the top would be obstructed by the dense trees but it is still great to go up and see! You feel like you are on top of the world in a secret lookout spot where no one from below or above can see you but you can see them! Coyote Peak is a great spot to pause and enjoy the quiet you worked hard to reach!
Careful making your way back down. Don’t let the canyon views distract you on the slippery rocks! Head left to reach South Fork trail.
Upper Ritchey Canyon Trail
South Fork trail is narrow and short. There are a couple of crossover trails from here that lead you back to Ritchey Canyon trail. We stayed on South Fork trail to Spring trail to Upper Ritchey Canyon trail. If you follow Upper Ritchey Canyon trail all the way to the Traverso Homestead you are rewarded with a hike through redwoods, spider webs, poison oak, maples, and a peaceful end at the old homestead. All the while you are following the creek and if you are quiet you might even see some deer! We got to see a young buck making his way up the hillside. The only thing that gave him away was all the leaves crunching as he crept along.
We ended up turning around at this beautiful grove of redwoods because there was a large group of people not far behind us and we weren’t able to get the peace and quiet we were looking for. It was a great decision as timing is everything! Had we not made the choices we did, we would not have experienced the surprise at the end of the hike that we did! (read on to find out!)
Heading back to Ritchey Canyon trail we stopped and enjoyed the orange and yellow leaves covering the trail every chance we got.
Ritchey Canyon Trail
Ritchey Canyon trail winds along the side of the hill with trees shooting up from the canyon below. The redwoods were tall and healthy, the Douglas firs were mossy and reaching for the sky and all the ferns were loving the water in the creek below. The sun was shining over head and just barely peeking through the tree canopy. Every turn of the narrow trail brought more and more beauty…and then we came across the stair step waterfall! Hearing water flowing over rocks was a very welcome surprise for us! It was a beautiful sound and a beautiful sight! The moss-covered rocks had water flowing over and through them with the final destination being Ritchey Creek. We were the only ones at this spot so we got to take our time and enjoy this gem!
Moving along the trail we came to a creek crossing and paused for a break to take in the beauty! We could still hear the waterfall and the water flowing through the creek made for a very tranquil spot!
Only because we were starting to get hungry did we get up and hop across the rocks and cross the creek. Ritchey Canyon trail became wide again with redwoods mixed in with maples, madrones and firs along the creek. We were so mesmerized and distracted we almost missed taking the cut over across the creek back to the Redwood trail! When the water is flowing good during the winter months one might need to take the Vineyard trail out to reach the Redwood trail to take you back to the parking lot. There wasn’t much water this time and we were able to hop over the rocks to the other side.
This is the good part…we were just plugging along on the Redwood trail and came across a group of hikers just starting out. The bosslady said her usual hellos and then the hubs stopped and was surprised to see his cousin hiking on the trail! What?! She lives in New Orleans! It was so crazy! Still can’t get over how if we didn’t take our time at one place or another along the trail or had we started earlier or “what if” we made a thousand different choices…would we have run into her? Serendipity!! We chatted for a bit then let them get on our their way. Walking back to the car we were both still so confused. It’s hard for the brain to comprehend seeing someone outside of where the brain thinks that you would see them. It was a wonderful end to our beautiful hike through Bothe-Napa Valley State Park!
Next time you have a strange urge or gut feeling to go somewhere or do something…do it! Go for it! And remember wonderful serendipitous things can happen! Have you run into someone on your hikes that you totally did not expect to see? Drop a comment below!
Parking is $8, toilets near parking, no dogs on trails, 7.5 miles with 1,365 ft elevation gain, easy to moderate hike. Calistoga is the closest food or St Helena. Both have amazing options AND you are in the middle of the Napa Valley so stop in and have a glass of wine at one of the hundreds of wineries! Send us an email or comment below if you want specific suggestions on either food or wine options!
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