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.
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.
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.