Hiking into the clouds – Skyline Wilderness Park Napa

Hiking into the clouds - Skyline Wilderness Park Napa | Smiling in Sonoma

Ever wonder what the wildlife does during the winter in between storms? They hunt for food and mate…what else is there when you don’t have a 9 to 5 workweek holding you back? We were lucky enough to experience a little insight into the wonderful world of forest creatures at Skyline Wilderness Park in Napa this weekend.

The hubs and I showed up at Skyline just as the rain had stopped ready to explore the park we had heard so much about. We followed the instructions we were given and started our hike along Skyline trail. Right away we were greeted by a small flock of wild turkeys that walked around us as if we were the wildlife! No turkey attacks so we followed the Skyline trail through young oak trees as it headed up the first hill. Don’t forget to turn around to see the wonderful views of where the Napa River flows into marshland before it hits the bay!

Keep going on Skyline trail as it climbs up further and you gain better views of the valley but watch out for the deer stalking you. I seriously think they followed us around to see what we were doing! Even had a staring contest with one of them! I won but that’s only because they are a little more skiddish than me 🙂 Oh and did you know they pee like a female dog? I was wondering what they were doing squatting forward then realized they were peeing. Just the beginning of us learning about the wildlife on this trail.

From here you wander through squirrel land. Cover your eyes if watching those cute little creatures do the deed bothers you…I was excited to see the courtship and nature happening, then laughing because it took the male squirrel a while to complete, then felt a little dirty because we actually stopped and watched and snapped a couple pics (pics only because no one would believe us). So out of respect for the squirrels, I will not post the pics. It was an odd experience but I guess this is what happens up in the trees when no one is looking…well except for us weirdos and a few other squirrels in other trees!

After you dip down you will climb up a little more and on the side of the hill you will find a perfectly placed park bench to take a break and admire the views of the valley below then continue on Skyline trail and pass Lake Marie. There’s a trail down to the lake if you want to check it out. The ducks looked like they were having fun chasing each other around the water.

Cross over the stream and head up Rim Rock trail to reach the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain and brace yourself! It does require good hiking shoes (with good grip), some balance and deep breathing. The trail starts off nice but then goes straight up a rock face in places then just straight up a slippery muddy trail. As we climbed higher and higher the clouds were thicker and thicker. It was eerie but so great to be the only ones up there! We saw some wild boar tracks and areas where they had recently dug around in the ground. I made sure to make plenty of noise so they would hear us coming and go the other way. The views on the way up were great, enjoy them on the way up because the top of Sugarloaf Mountain peak there’s a lot of trees which is a good thing for nature and shade but not so much for views.

We walked through the clouds weaving through the forest and headed back down the trail on the other side and were once again greeted by beautiful views of Napa.

Hiking into the clouds - Skyline Wilderness Park Napa | Smiling in Sonoma

Cross over the creek and head for Lake Marie Road to close your loop. Watch out for the crazy deer! Remember, they were stalking us. We saw movement in the trees and antlers moving around. A buck was tracking us…then a doe popped out of the woods just ahead of us on the trail. She looked around and just started heading off on the trail up the hill. The buck then popped out and sniffed the ground like a dog to follow her trail. I thought the coast was clear so I motioned for the hubs to come join me then all of a sudden a big buck jumped out of the trees and followed the other along the trail. Deer run sort of funny…kind of like a great Dane with the tall legs. Then he started prancing once he got the smell and then doing the bounce through the grass! I love how deer seem to be weightless when they bounce along. This big buck was so graceful.

The bucks were a great end to an interesting hike.

This post is linked to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, weight(less), check out fellow bloggers posts here.

Park details: ample parking, $5 entrance fee, flushing toilets and showers (it is also an RV Park), 7.8 miles with 1,623 ft elevation gain, strenuous only if you go to the Sugarloaf Mountain Peak.

Wildlife counted: 3 bucks, 5 does, 6 squirrels, 7 wild turkeys, wild boar tracks and demolition areas, tons of birds and 2 children (hey they were running wild, that counts right?)

4 Comment

  1. Stunning shots as always! I love, love, love the bouncing buck photo! These are fantastic, and I love learning about your part of the country!

    1. Thank you Karen! I was so excited to be in just the right spot at the right time. It was a good day on the trails!

  2. Fabulous photos and informative post, Dawna. I’m so glad to know about this beautiful hike and also about deer in their private moments! 🙂 Happy 2016!

    1. Thank you Jane! I learned a lot on this hike. Odd little things you wouldn’t think you needed to know. 🙂 It is a great hike and right in Napa! Happy 2016 to you!

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