All Hail Helena

Ready to get in that last long hike before the days get a little too short? Make it…

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Ready to get in that last long hike before the days get a little too short? Make it count by conquering one of the highest peaks in the Bay Area: Mount Saint Helena. On clear days this 11-mile (round-trip) trek has you seeing all the way out to the Bay and Sierra Nevada.

Start on Stevenson Memorial Trail, named for the author who famously stayed in the area circa 1880, Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s a mile leading uphill through a canopy of trees. At Mount Saint Helena Trail (a fire road) you’ll keep gradually ascending. The good news is it never gets ridiculously steep, and the other good news is that the whole time you get to enjoy views of the Palisades mountain range and the valley below. The higher you climb, the better the scenery.

About a mile from the peak, there’s a fork in the trail. Continue to the right to get to the highest peak, or, if you’re up for it, turn left for a worthwhile detour. (This adds about a mile to your hike, making it 11 instead of 10 miles round-trip.) At the lower peak, you’ll find a couple of perfectly perched picnic tables looking all the way out to San Francisco, the Bay, and Mount Tam. Return from the detour and follow the trail to the highest point, where the valley and mountains unfurl into the distance.

Drive 8 miles north of Calistoga on Hwy. 29, into Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. The parking lot is on the right, and you’ll have to cross the road to get to the Stevenson Memorial trailhead. No dogs.

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