Napa – Redwoods and Redd Wood

When you think about Napa, coastal redwoods are probably not the first plants that come to mind. This is why Bothe-Napa Valley State Park is such a special place: after driving through the picturesque vineyards and dramatic hills of wine country, you can discover redwood trees, oak woodlands, and streams that offer a welcome retreat from the heat of the spring and summer. Best of all, you can visit this and other redwood parks for free on the second Saturday of each month by downloading a free pass from the Save the Redwoods League (the fee is otherwise $8). We’ve visited Bothe-Napa State Park as part of a longer trip to wine country, but yesterday, when Ruth’s sister was visiting, we made a quick trip up to the park just for the afternoon followed by dinner at one of Yountville’s hip restaurants, Redd Wood (thus the clever title of this post 🙂 ).

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Coastal Redwoods in the heart of Napa Valley

Itinerary

  • Drive to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park (1 to 2.5 hours)
  • Hike the Redwood and Ritchey Creek Trails, with a possible extension to Coyote Peak (1.5-2.5 hours)
  • Drive to downtown Yountville (0.5 hours)
  • Have dinner at Redd Wood (1.5 hours)
  • Drive back to the Bay Area (1 to 2 hours, with a quick stop at Sift for dessert)

On our spring visit, we had to ford some streams at Bothe Park, so waterproof boots or Teva hiking sandals were in order. We’d also recommend bringing a change of clothes and a cover-up for dinner as evenings in the valley can get cooler once the sun goes down.

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park

It takes just about 2 hours to get to the park from Mountain View. Because we arrived mid-afternoon, we ran into very little traffic on the way in to Napa Valley and took a little detour to have a scenic drive along the Silverado Trail, which was blooming with fields full of wildflowers intermixed with the grape vines that were just beginning to show their leaves.

We drove from the main park gate down the street to the day use area, where there is potable water as well as flush toilets (bring your own soap). You can stay parked in one of the spaces here or drive back a few meters to park at the trail head. Both times we’ve visited, despite the small size of the parking lots, we’ve always been able to find a space.

The main trails in the park are the Redwood Trail and the Ritchey Canyon Trail, both of which run parallel to Ritchey Creek. Note that to cross between the two trails, you have to ford the creek over stones, so take your time and watch for slippery or loose rocks.

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Plenty of flowing water in Ritchey Creek

We did a 3.25-mile loop with a small extension to the Vineyard Trail; to be honest, the view of the vineyard from that trail wasn’t nearly as impressive as the ones we saw on the drive in, but there were some beautiful flowers growing in this section of the park.

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Flowers along the Vineyard Trail

The trail has only minor changes in elevation and leads past beautiful oaks and giant redwoods with lush, green undergrowth in the spring.

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If you want to toss an extra hill in, you can follow Bay Area Hiker‘s guide and ascend to Coyote Peak, which we’ve done on a previous trip.

Redd Wood Restaurant, Yountville

After we finished our hike, we drove a half hour to downtown Yountville, the heart of Napa’s culinary scene. We put our name down at Redd Wood, chef Richard Reddington’s pizzeria. Our table on the patio was ready in about 20 minutes, which gave us just about enough time to wander over to the French Laundry’s garden, where the famous Michelin-starred restaurant sources many of its vegetables.

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The French Laundry Culinary Garden

The food at Redd Wood was just superb! Their Neapolitan pizza crust was the perfect crispy texture, the margherita’s sauce and cheese were both rich and flavorful, and the combination of toppings on the asparagus and pineapple pizzas were well-conceived and very interesting.

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After dinner, we squeezed in a quick bite of dessert at Sift on our way back down to Mountain View. After trying a few of their dessert options, the frosting shots and cupcakes are still our favorites!

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Sift samoa frosting shot, which packs the best flavors of the cupcake into a delicious bite!

 

Do you know of any other gems in Napa? Please leave your comments below!

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