Do Above the Treetops
A half-mile hike sounds like a short walk through the woods, but the ranch’s golf cart driver dropped me, a novice hiker, at the Valley View Trail Head, made of Calistoga’s distinctive volcanic bedrock. Janet, my visiting friend from the East Coast and I were thrilled to embark on this slight incline, which to our delight was aptly rated “moderate.”
Wearing lightweight hiking boots and workout clothes, we enjoyed a short, invigorating walk through the woods. We stopped at a few benches along the way to photograph the breathtaking valley vista over the treetops and rows of cabernet sauvignon vineyards below. If we had time to spare, we would have taken a seat and practiced some meditation in this spot of quietude.
I’m already planning my return hike to this spot, but next time I’ll arrive midday and pack some wine and cheese to enjoy at the picnic table we passed by on the way up. Past that table, we hiked further than the marked trail, which added a half-mile more to our walk. We could not have been happier to extend our morning walk in the fresh, clean air that surrounded us within this beauty of nature.
It was a bit more than a half mile, but mostly uphill on this exhilarating adventure before we turned around, breaking a sweat that qualified this hike as our workout for the day. We were giddy as we climbed downhill.
On the way down, we picked up the pace, our focus on our footing distracted only by a few smooth red-orange manzanita tree branches overhead. A photograph couldn’t capture the beauty of this coppery gift of nature, but we stopped for a few pictures, regardless. Okay, so we stopped a few more times when the view opened to the valley below; we were mesmerized at every turn.
Our morning adventure didn’t end once we reached the end of the trail, which is also the beginning. We decided to skip the golf cart ride back to the ranch and continue walking the easy downhill road that led us past guest cabins and the ranch’s gigantic, Gatsby-esque pool and lounging area.
The ranch also boasts a 1 ½ mile trail along the ridge and canyon of Lake Lommel. I look forward to hiking that one, but I guarantee that when I do, I’ll pack a picnic lunch with a bottle of wine.