Robert Louis Stevenson State Park: The Complete Guide

View from the Palisades Trail in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park

Harminder Dhesi / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Flickr

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Robert Louis Stevenson State Park

Address
4824 Lake County Hwy #4774, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA
Phone +1 707-942-4575

Known for containing some of California Wine Country’s more challenging hiking trails, Robert Louis Stevenson State Park spans a whopping 5,272 acres of rugged terrain that includes sections of Sonoma, Lake, and Napa Counties.

It’s just one of the several sites in the area named for Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who penned famous novels like "Treasure Island" and "Kidnapped." In 1880, Stevenson spent his honeymoon in an abandoned bunkhouse of the Silverado Mine in what would later become part of the state park and his time there inspired the travel memoir, "The Silverado Squatters."

While there are no fees at Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, there are also no amenities. This means no trash service (pack out what you bring in), no restrooms, no potable water, and limited parking on a visit to this rustic state park.

Things to Do

With practically no amenities outside of the provided parking lot, Robert Louis Stevenson State Park is all about being immersed in nature. Geology buffs, for one, will be happy to see a variety of unique rock formations along a portion of the park due to the Sonoma Volcanics formed between 2.6 and 8 million years ago. The 13 miles of developed hiking trails feature evergreen forests and vast canyons on the north-facing slopes, with thickets of low growing vegetation made up of broad-leaved shrubs and bushes on the south-facing slopes. Mountain biking is another popular activity inside Robert Louis Stevenson Park, though bikes are only allowed on the main road to the peak as well as the Oat Hill Mine Trail.

Best Hikes & Trails

Part of what makes Robert Louis Stevenson State Park a great place to hike is its collection of different environments, from dense groves of Douglas fir, oak, and manzanita trees to green hillsides and rocky cliffs. These are the park's top hikes.

  • Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Trail: Starting from the main parking lot, this 1.3-mile trail leads to the site of the original Silverado mine bunkhouse where Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife spent their honeymoon. While the cabin no longer stands, the site is commemorated with a small monument.
  • Mount St. Helena: Head to the summit of California Wine Country’s highest peak to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding San Francisco Bay Area. The Pacific Ocean, the Sierra Nevada mountains, Mount Shasta, and Mount Lassen can also be seen on especially clear days. The 4.5-mile hike starts from a fire road entrance a quarter-mile east of the main parking lot or the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Trail.
  • Table Rock: Veer south from the main parking lot and take the single path trail to get to the Table Rock formation. The hike follows an old utility road for about 2.2 miles.
  • Oat Hill Mine Trail: This challenging hike connects from the trail to Table Rock and ventures to the outskirts of nearby Calistoga town. The 8.3-mile climb travels 1,500 feet through the western end of Aetna Springs Road in Pope Valley across wildflower fields and diverse forests.
  • Palisades: Check out the park’s greatest accumulation of volcanic rock and dazzling views from this difficult hike along the western slope. It starts from the Table Rock trail and zig zags up and down for 2.5 miles before joining with the Oat Hill Mine Trail. The entire hike is about 11 miles and should be reserved for the most experienced hikers armed with the appropriate supplies to combat the exposed, rocky terrain.

Where to Stay Nearby

The park is certainly off the beaten path, so accommodation options are limited in terms of budget and availability. Choose a cute, locally-run bed and breakfast to add to the Wine Country charm, or compliment the park’s wild setting by splurging on an extravagant luxury resort and spa.

  • Aurora Park Cottages: These charming cottages located about 9 miles south of the state parks are within walking distance to downtown Calistoga. The simple, clean accommodations and peaceful setting are made even better with fresh breakfast and comfortable beds.
  • Backyard Garden Oasis B&B: Just eight minutes north from the Mount St. Helena trailhead, this quaint bed and breakfast also boasts close proximity to Harbin Hot Springs and downtown Calistoga. True to its name, the B&B features a lush setting with a quiet garden, waterfall, and pond.
  • Solage: For a truly luxurious experience, head to Solage Resort and Spa off the Silverado Trail less than a 15-minute drive from Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. This place comes with an extremely hefty price tag though there is an on-site spa, Michelin-starred restaurant, and beautiful grounds.
  • Chateau de Vie: Also located in Calistoga, this small bed and breakfast has a Victorian manor feel with elegant suites and lush gardens (complete with a 40-foot vineyard pool and hot tub). In true Napa Valley fashion, the property also offers afternoon wine and cheese for its guests. 

How to Get There

Robert Louis Stevenson State Park is located about 7 miles north of Calistoga and 35 miles from Napa. North of the property, you’ll find the small town of Middletown 10 miles away. Find parking on the large dirt lot off of Highway 29. Be prepared for some winding roads just before arriving at the park.

Tips for Your Visit

  • There are no accessible features in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, including the parking lot, which is made up of dirt and gravel. Likewise, the trails are made up of rough terrain without any paved areas.
  • Open hours are from sunrise to sunset daily.
  • The winter months provide the clearest vistas from the top of Mount St. Helena but come with the added threat of cold weather and even snow. Instead, consider visiting during the spring or fall for more temperate weather.
  • There are no dogs allowed inside the state park in order to protect the wildlife.
  • Collecting any natural objects (such as rocks or mushrooms) is prohibited.
  • The nearby town of Calistoga is renowned for its volcanic hot springs and mud baths, perfect for relaxing after a long day of hiking.
  • If you have extra time and are staying south of the park, stop by the Old Faithful Geyser of California to see the natural geyser and learn about the geological features of the area.
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Robert Louis Stevenson State Park: The Complete Guide