Oat Hill Mine Trail

8.25 Miles
2000 Feet
More Info
Only half a mile into the hike and you'll already be rewarded with some classic Napa Vineyard views. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone hiking along the trail not too far from the trailhead. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
A view over Napa Valley vineyards and Calistoga only one mile into the hike. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone and some other hikers enjoy the view over Calistoga, CA in Napa Valley. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
From the trailhead, Lower Oat Hill Mine Trail does almost nothing but ascend. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
The trail features some nice views within the first mile of the trailhead, but if you go higher the views of Napa Valley get better. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
A view from the trail looking at where we're headed. Our turnaround point lies a bit beyond the highpoint visible in the distance. You can also see the trail up ahead traversing the slope from left to right. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone on the trail. The Palisades Trail leading to Robert Lewis Stevenson State Park probably follows the ridge of rock in the distance. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
The higher the trail gets the more rocky the terrain. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
The trail crosses over the spine of a ridge and opens up views of Napa Valley more to the north. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Near the main junction the trail circles around the sheer walls of rock of the area's high point. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone descends down the trail towards the trailhead. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
If one doesn't want to put in too much of an effort, views like this one are available within one mile of the trailhead. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone hiking along the trail. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
The Oat Hill Mine Trail is rocky and sometimes very rocky. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Numerous caves and overhangs can be seen from the trail. This one sits just off the trail. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Many segments of the trail hug a steep rock wall on one side. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Much of the eastern trail provides fantastic views of Swartz Canyon which empties into Pope Canyon. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone heading towards the trailhead after the turnaround point near Holm's Place. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Several caves can be seen on the opposite side of the canyon. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Log Entries
Getting there was half the fun?
By Austin Explorer on 2/11/2018
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.01 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 43 minutes

After completing the first half of the trail on the Calistoga side of the mountain Coppertone and I were eager to see what the eastern half of this trail had to offer.  The drive to the trailhead was an adventure all its own.  It's about a 1.5 hour drive from Sonoma Valley but the real adventure is the last few miles that take place on a single lane dirt road headed up the mountain.  I'm not entirely sure what we would do if we encountered a vehicle headed in the opposite direction but thankfully that did not occur.

As you would expect on the Oat Hill Mine Trail, the surface is very rocky.  However, to get to the pass that marks the halfway point there is far less elevation gain.  There's a bit of up and downs but 400 feet of elevation difference is less challenging than the west segments almost 2000 feet.

The solitude is far higher here on the eastern half of the trail.  In almost 4 hours of trail time we came across only two other people.  The canyons opening up into sparsely populated Pope Canyon meant quiet solitude for the entirety of the hike.

A surprise birthday party later in the day required us to push the pace a bit to make it back home in time.  It would have been nice to have a bit more time to take in the views, which were spectacular.

Second time's the charm
By Austin Explorer on 1/28/2018
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 10.11 Miles Duration: 5 hours, 59 minutes

During our first attempt at this trail we had to turn back earlier than expected due to some unexpected heat and blisters on Coppertone's feet.  This time around we tackled the trail a bit earlier in the year and had some extra tape for Coppertone's heels, just in case.

We didn't bite off more than we could chew, but we probably still bit off more than we should have at this point.  For a number of reasons we were a bit out of trail shape and a 10 mile hike might not have been the best choice.  But we were determined to get from the trailhead along Highway 29 to the Holms Place junction.  We would not be denied!

There was a great deal of maintenance on the trail that has recently been done.  A large number of tree limbs and even entire trees that had been trimmed back from the trail.  In some cases the limbs and brush was piled up along the trail's edge.

We saw a number of crows and turkey vultures from the trail and even a single woodpecker in a tree.  But strangely, we don't recall seeing, or hearing, any other birds during the entire hike.  Once we came to realize this it was a bit spooky.  We were never able to really come up with an explanation for it.

Heel blisters prevent us from continuing
By Austin Explorer on 7/2/2017
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 4.57 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Coppertone and I had planned to do a wine tasting at a specific tasting room in St. Helena so we decided to try out this trail which we had just found out about not too long ago.

The trail was rocky from the start and immediately starts ascending.  But overall, the steepness of the trail is not too challenging.  Views at 0.5 and 1.0 mile marks present some nice views over parts of Napa Valley and numerous vineyards.

The warmer temperatures and some failing tape caused blisters on Coppertone's feet leading us to cut the outing short.  We need to pack some paper tape in our backpacks to avoid such a situation in the future.

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