In my quest to explore Skyline Wilderness Park, I found myself on Rim Rock Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain.
If you’ve never been to Skyline Wilderness Park:
It does cost $5 to enter, but there are over 25 miles of well-kept hiking trails. There is plenty to do, including hiking, running, or mountain biking.
Brief History of Skyline Wilderness Park:
I’m always interested in the history of places I visit, and there is a lot of history to the Skyline Wilderness Park.
It started in 1979 when the land beside the State Hospital was declared to be surplus. The community got together and bought the property to create a park. The Skyline Wilderness Park finally opened in 1983. At first, the Skyline Wilderness Park was only open for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, but later, there were new additions such as an RV Camp area, tent area, and even picnic area. You can see the park map here.
To Climb to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, You’ll Need to Take a Couple of Trails:
- Thatcher Trail: Begins from Marie Creek Trail near the end of Manzanita and the Fig Tree. Steady climb for 1.67 miles, 14% grade, to Sugarloaf Peak (1,630’ elevation). Dropdown for 0.65 miles, 20% grade, ending on Skyline Trail.
- Rim Rock Trail: Begins from the lower junction with Lake Marie Road, the Skyline Trail, and Buckeye Trail. Numerous ups and downs and technical areas. It ends at Kennedy Park near the Napa River. Return trip elevation gains 387.
In all, the Rim Rock Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain is about 7 miles with just over 1900 feet of elevation. There are some steep climbing spots but also a lot of fire roads too.
Rim Rock Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain:
The Rim Rock Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain Trail takes you on a loop around Skyline Park to Lake Marie Rd and Thatcher Rim Rock Trail and finally up to Sugarloaf Peak. It has a variety of terrain and goes down into a canyon and through the dense woodlands. If you are looking for one of Napa’s best views, the Rim Rock Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain trail is definitely a good one. It’s challenging but has a lot of great views.
You’ll start at the main Skyline Park entrance (keep in mind it does cost $5 for parking). You want to follow signs up to Lake Marie Road and eventually Lake Marie. Most of the trail to Lake Marie is fire roads, so it’s not too technical (more technical components come in the second half). As you are climbing, you’ll see plenty of open fields and the city of Napa in the back. You might even see turkeys, which I’ve seen a few times.
After you pass a small cave, the Rim Rock Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain trail becomes more technical and rocky. I do advise for good shoes. You want to stay left on Lake Marie Road towards the Bayleaf trail. Eventually, you’ll get to another split that you’ll want to turn left. It leads to a connector trail and up to a wooden bridge across Marie Creek.
The next junction you’ll see is the Manzanita Trail. You’ll take an immediate right onto Thater Rim Rock Trail. This is where Rim Rock Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain trail gets challenging. You’ll be going up a steep uphill with switchbacks. You’ll go by rocky outcroppings on the Northside of Sugarloaf Mountain. After over 700 feet of steep climbing, you’ll reach the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, and it is worth the view.
If you only have time for one hike or trail run in Napa County, I highly recommend Rim Rock Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain Trail. Sugarloaf Peak is 1630 feet. If was just clear enough, I was able to see all the way to the Bay Area.
After you reach the summit, you’ll continue down a single track, rocky terrain. The Thatcher Rim Trail finally comes to a T with the Skyline Trail. You’ll want to turn left back on to the Skyline Trail and head towards the Bay Area Ridge Trail/Tuteur Loop.
I wasn’t expecting Tuteur Loop to be single track and as rigorous as it was. Finally, you’ll cross across a couple of creeks and get back onto Skyline Trail. You’ll still get more beautiful views of Napa, including the city and Vineyards. At this point, you’re just under 1000 feet of elevation.
From there, you’ll head back the same way you came.
So far, Rim Rock Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain Trail is one of the most beautiful and challenging trail runs/hikes I’ve done. I highly recommend it if you come to the Bay Area or Napa. Together with Lake Marie, it’s a perfect day on the trails.
You can see more hikes here.
Other Hikes at Skyline Park:
Questions for you:
What is one of your favorite local hikes? Napa locals, have you done Rim Rock Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain Trail?
Have you been to Napa?