Since this segment is in the North Bay area, not far from I-80, I decided to hike it on my way home from Lake Tahoe. It was also a perfect length to be a “short” long walk in my marathon training. The weather was gorgeous, with a forecast of low-to-mid 70’s and abundant sunshine. As I headed up toward Napa from I-80, the radio station I was listening to faded out, and I selected a different pre-stored station. To my surprise (but delight) the first thing I heard was an oldie with these lyrics: “I feel the earth move under my feet”. It brought back happy and energetic memories of my first season skating on an official Synchronized Skating team; we’d named ourselves the Ice Quakes, and our first program was a medley including this song, Elvis’s “I’m All Shook Up,” and one or two others with a similar theme. Somehow, hearing this song seemed like a forecast that it was going to be a good hike!
Skyline Wilderness Park has several trails, with the Skyline Trail as the designated segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. No more than a half mile from the parking area at the park entrance, the trail climbs quickly up a hillside into what feels like back country,
and I got into my groove in which I simply enjoyed the trail , the forest, and the beautiful spring weather.
After awhile, as I was cresting a small rise and emerging from some trees into a more open area, I was startled to notice a vehicle parked ahead of me on the trail. It was unlike any vehicle I’d ever seen before; it was covered with dust and had clearly had a long, adventurous life; and, perhaps most importantly, I had no idea how it got there — it had certainly not been driven up the single-track switchbacks I’d just hiked. So I had a vision of Back to the Future, half wondering if it could possibly have flown there(!) . Then I noticed a ranger-type young man who had walked a little ways off the trail to check out the fantastic view across the Napa Valley. After confirming it was his vehicle I shared my vision, and he seemed to think it was a fitting and amusing attribution for his county-owned vehicle.
In addition to the intermittent views of the city of Napa and the Napa Valley, a major portion of this trail is through some very pretty oak forest. In fact, the forest reminded me of the picture I had selected to be my theme picture for this blog!
There were also some nice wildflowers here and there. I particularly took note of the poppies, which I’d never seen before I moved to California, and which always seem to announce that the annual wildflower season is here.
In the shady areas there was also miner’s lettuce, so named because the early California miners did apparently eat it. I am amazed that the single leaf, after opening full, attaches to itself to form a single, nearly flat circular leaf with the stem in the center.
At the far end of the park the trail continues as the Napa Solano Ridge Trail on private property owned by the Tuteur Family Trust. Although there were signs indicating that the loop was closed (no reason given), I actually did not realize when I had hiked onto the loop (though it was obvious when I completed the loop). I am not sure why the trail was supposed to be closed, as I didn’t encounter any kind of obstacle other than a few muddy areas similar to others back much closer to the park entrance.
I had time at the end of the hike to explore the River-to-Ridge Trail, which is described in the official Bay Area Ridge Trail guide book. I did not realize until later that this is considered an access trail rather than a segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. I hiked the 1.5-mile segment to the location where it crosses the Napa-Vallejo Highway, then turned around and returned to the parking area.