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Posted: Friday, January 5, 2007 10:00 pm

Overall rating: **** (out of five)

Rating for kids: *** (out of five)

Rating for seniors: **

What's the attraction: After making the hike to the top of Napa Valley's Mt. St. Helena, one is rewarded with gorgeous views of the valley and the Bay Area.

But Mt. St. Helena is just one of a few peaks to explore in this state park located north of Calistoga.

Robert Louis Stevenson spent his honeymoon in the area that is now the park back in 1880. The site of the author's cabin is located on the trail to the summit of Mt. St Helena.

After his experience in the then wild Napa Valley, Stevenson wrote "The Silverado Squatters." The author would later write his most famous novels, "Kidnapped" and "Treasure Island."

What to do: After a winding drive up Highway 29, visitors reach a parking lot bisected by the highway. Turn to the left to reach the five-mile trail to the top of Mt. St. Helena, and head to the right for other trails.

While Mt. St. Helena may offer the most stunning views (including Mt. Shasta on a clear day) the park's other trails take hikers to the amazing rock formations of the Palisades and Table Rock.

The Table Rock hike offers great terrain and scenery on a manageable 4-mile loop. The rock itself is really more like a huge ledge jutting out over the highway and looking down onto the valley floor.

Peering over the edge down sheer cliffs is a dizzying and thrilling end for a hike.

Continuing past Table Rock, visitors can hike along the volcanic ridge of the Palisades and can even take a grueling 9 mile hike down to the valley floor.

The park is open from sunrise to sunset year round. Hikers going to the Mt. St. Helena summit should be advised that conditions at the top of the mountain can change drastically turning the winter and snow is not uncommon.

Terrain runs from moderate to somewhat strenuous. Dogs are not allowed.

Cost: Parking is free.

Directions: From Highway 12, link to Highway 29 and head north through the Napa Valley.

Andrew Adams is the News-Sentinel City Editor. He can be contacted at andrewa@lodinews.com.

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