Hiking the Rector Reservoir (Napa)

Views of Napa Valley Vineyards

The Rector Reservoir has one of the best views in Napa Valley and local Vineyards. I was excited when the oppertunity presented itself to hike.

Hiking the Rector Reservoir (Napa)

About the Rector Reservoir:

The Rector Reservoir located northeast of Yountville and Southwest of Lake Berryessa in Napa Valley. It’s about 433 acres of oak woodland and mixed chaparral vegetation. It’s owned by the Department of Veterans Affairs and managed by CDFW.

There are lot of different plant communities and they support 27 species of mammals, 40 species of birds, and 14 species of reptiles and amphibians. I actually saw a coyate on my hike! Most of the watershed area is not open to the general public but there is a beautiful trail with views of the Rector Reservoir.

Views of Napa Valley Vineyards

History of the Rector Reservoir:

The Rector Reservoir Wildlife area was designated as a Wildlife Area in 1998 by the Fish and Game Commision. The landscape itself is rocky and can be used to for hiking, wildlife viewing or hunting.

Most of the of the Rector Reservoir is for for conservation of wildlife habitat and watershed protection.

Hiking the Rector Reservoir (Napa)

Hiking the Rector Reservoir:

The trailhead is located right off the Silverado Trail near Yountville.

I appreciate how close this is to me and it only took about 15 minutes from North Napa. You can see how to get here from AllTrails. Parking at Rector Reservoir is fairly easy and there are a few spots located by the trailhead. I got there around 1 pm and there were 4 more spots. When I got back around 3 pm, there were no spots so I would probably get there earlier. Out on Rector Reservoir I saw 3 other people and someone having a picnic, so it wasn’t too busy.

Hiking the Rector Reservoir (Napa)
You can’t go into the Rector Reservoir but you can look at it

How Tough Is It?

Make no mistake, the Rector Reservior a tough hike and extremely steep. It’s a 3.4 mile (about 1.7 miles out and back). You are gaining over 1000 feet in a mile. The first .75 is steep and rocky and seems to flatten out a little more, the further you go. I would recommend a good pair of shoes.  Once you get up the first .75 you pretty much have a beautiful view of the Napa Valley Vineyards the entire time.

Views of Napa Valley Vineyards

The views of Napa Valley are beautiful and well worth it. The Rector Reservoir provides one of the best views of the local Vineyards that I’ve seen! It took me just about 2 hours to do the entire trail.


I haven’t logged many 30 min miles lately from hiking (even when I hiked 30k for my 30th birthday) but this was a tough trail. I can’t emphasis how challenging and steep the first section is.  That being said, if you are in Napa Valley, the Rector Reservior is a must stop and should only take you a couple of hours. You can see more hikes and trails here.

Questions for you:

Have you hiked in Napa Valley?

Locals have you been to the Rector Reservoir? 




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