Oat Hill Mine Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"Few places in the heart of northern California’s wine country are open to public use. Nearly every inch of land in this valley of liquid gold is privately owned. This trail, fortunately, is one of those few public places. Locally referred to as a “road,” Oat Hill Mine Road is more like a foot trail that varies from four to 15 feet wide. The route was originally created as a wagon road so that miners who worked in the hills could haul supplies to and from the town and valley lying below. Indeed, there are wagonwheel ruts carved into boulders in the trail. Today, the only traffic the “road” sees are hikers and mountain bikers. Many parts of the once wide road are overgrown with shrubs and tall grass, making the trail look more like a wide singletrack trail than a wagon road."
--Linda Austin, Mountain Bike! Northern California (Menasha Ridge Press).
"Few trails bear the scars of history as well as Oat Hill Mine Road. Once an old wagon road, the ruts of nineteenth- century wheels are still evident in the rocky surface. Today the old road is a popular hiking and mountain- biking trail. It climbs from the outskirts of Calistoga over the mountains to a trailhead near Aetna Springs in Pope Valley.
The section from Calistoga to an old homestead at the base of the Palisades is the most popular section and makes a good hike. One great option for this hike is to add it as the conclusion of a shuttle hike that combines the Table Rock Trail (Hike 58) and the Palisades Trail (Hike 59)."
--Bubba Suess, Hiking California's Wine Country (Falcon Guides).
"Oat Hill Mine Trail follows the original route connecting Calistoga to the quicksilver mines north. This historic road, built from 1873 to 1893, is now a recreational trail for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. The 4.7-mile stretch to Karl Gustov Holm’s homestead is a sustained uphill climb over a rough rocky and often eroded surface. The wide trail begins in an oak woodland mixed with gray pine and wends up to open grasslands dotted with wildflowers in the spring. The views over the Napa Valley vineyards and across to the rugged palisades are worth the effort."
--Linda B. Mullally and David S. Mullally, Best Dog Hikes Northern California (Falcon Guides).
"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."
--Tracy Salcedo-Chourré, Best Easy Day Hikes: San Francisco's North Bay (Falcon Guides).
"The northern half of the historic Oat Hill Mine Road sees little use. Most activity on the trail begins at the Calistoga trailhead and climbs up to Holm’s Place and the Palisades Trail junction.
For those willing to make the drive to the trailhead near Aetna Springs, they can enjoy an equally rugged section of the Oat Hill Mine Road without the long uphill grade of the southern section. Sweeping views, bizarre rock formations, and the sense of deep isolation in the midst of rugged country are all highlights of this seldom- used section of trail."
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