Oat Hill Mine Trail

Calistoga, California

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This historic mining road leads up into the hills on the east side of the Napa Valley and offers hikers a taste of wilderness and great vineyard views. While the views are civilized—of orderly vineyards, glittering retention ponds, and the rooftops of rural homes—and road noise occasionally drifts up into the hills, the Oak Hill Mine Trail also feels wild and remote. It’s a wonder the road ever got built. The winding passage took twenty years to construct, linking Calistoga (and its railroad) with a cinnabar mine that operated on and off from the 1870s to the 1960s. The miners distilled quicksilver (mercury) from the cinnabar; the quicksilver in turn was used to refine gold from California’s Mother Lode and silver from Nevada’s Comstock Lode.

Oat Hill Mine Trail Professional Review and Guide

"This historic mining road leads up into the hills on the east side of the Napa Valley and offers hikers a taste of wilderness and great vineyard views.

While the views are civilized—of orderly vineyards, glittering retention ponds, and the rooftops of rural homes—and road noise occasionally drifts up into the hills, the Oak Hill Mine Trail also feels wild and remote.

It’s a wonder the road ever got built. The winding passage took twenty years to construct, linking Calistoga (and its railroad) with a cinnabar mine that operated on and off from the 1870s to the 1960s. The miners distilled quicksilver (mercury) from the cinnabar; the quicksilver in turn was used to refine gold from California’s Mother Lode and silver from Nevada’s Comstock Lode."

Activity Type: Hiking, Mountain Biking
Nearby City: Calistoga
Distance: 3.2
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 2 hours
Season: Spring and early summer
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Local Contacts: Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District, 1195 Third St., Room 210, Napa, CA 94559; napaoutdoors .org
Local Maps: USGS Calistoga; map at trailhead; online at napaoutdoors.org/parks-trails/oat-hill-mine-trail
Driving Directions: Directions to Oat Hill Mine Trail

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May 2018