Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bothe - Napa Valley State Park

Bothe - Napa Valley State Park is located off Hwy 29 half way between Calistoga and St. Helena in Napa County. Bothe attracts a wide verity of visitors due the range of activates available. Camping, both RV (camper 31’, trailer 24’ max length) and tent is available year round. The only other camping available in the Napa Valley is at the Fairgrounds in Napa and in Calistoga, but both of those spots are barren RV parking spaces. If you want to be in the outdoors or do some family camping head to Bothe. The camp sites at Bothe are mostly covered by an Oak, Madrone and Redwood canopy and have the usual camp site amenities, fire ring, picnic table, water, etc. For the summer in Bothe the park offers a swimming pool for a small fee. This is especially great on the 90-100° days that are common in the Napa Valley.

If you’re a hiker Bothe has a few different options for you. First and most popular you can hike up Ritchey Canyon along Ritchey Creek. Ritchey Canyon is a second generation fern covered Redwood forest. Most of this canyon was harvested in 1850’s making these trees relatively young for Redwoods. You can see further evidence of past lumber harvest by how the trees are clustered together. At many points in the forest the trees have grown in a circular pattern, many of the current trees sprouted from the roots of the old growth.

There are two trails that lead up the canyon, start off on the Redwood Trail on the south side. Ritchey Canyon trail is a dirt road and slightly less scenic. The Redwood Trail will lead you along the creek; this is a very easy hike with only about 400’ of elevation gain. When the Redwood Trail ends rejoin the Ritchey Canyon trail for about in about .25 miles you will arrive at a small spring feed cascade. Spring waters bubble out of the earth above forming a small stream that falls down a steep rocky slope and into Ritchey Creek. You can continue on Ritchey Canyon Trail for about another mile before coming to the park boundary. You can make up your own route there are 12 possible loops you can create by combining different trail segments.

If you are looking for a slightly more strenuous hike try hiking up to Coyote Point, 1170’. It’s about an 800’ elevation gain over about 2miles. The view from Coyote point is somewhat obstructed by the forest canopy, you should be able to see Sterling Vineyards Winery and a partial view of the valley floor.  Another trail at Bothe is the History Trail that leads from Bothe to neighboring Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park. Bale Mill is an 1846 wheat and corn, stone mill. The mill is still operated for demonstrations and seasonal events.

Mountain bikes are allowed on parts of different trails. If you’re a hard core mountain biker keep driving to Calistoga and check out Mt. St. Helena or Oat Hill Mine Rd but if you’re a camper and you brought your bike it would be a nice easy activity. In addition to mountain bikes, horseback riding is also allowed on some trails. Make sure to check the park map for which activity is allowed on which trail. Many of the trails change allowed activities at trail junctions.

Bothe SP has a lot to offer here is a quick rundown of everything;

50 camping sites
9 walk-in tent sites
Group campsite
Redwood, Oak, Madrone Forest
10 miles of trails, 12 different loops for Hiking, Horse Riding, Mountain Biking
50 picnic tables with BBQ and water
Improved restrooms with showers
Educational Visitors Center
Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park

Bothe - Napa Valley state park has a lot of history, you can read more about it in the resources below

View ENC Master Map in a larger map

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