Summary: there is a usage fee if you go in through the front gate. but there is a "back entrance" that is open during the summer that you can ride in through. From hwy 29 north, go right @ soscol (to napa/lake berryessa), turn left @ napa valley college sign. Turn left and park in "formal garden" parking lot. There is no fee to park there. Take the bike path back to soscol and it leads across the street directly to the back entrance into the park. It's a good warm up for your legs with some steady climbing and some technical climbing before the real climbing begins. (Follow the trail all the way to the fire road. Once there, you have a few different options once you reach the fire road. The Skyline or Buckeye Trails is both steep and technical in areas. Lake Marie Road is longer but at a much ascends at a much lower grade and a lot of curves.) Either way, you will have to climb for a couple of miles and then go around lake marie before you descend back down the other side. Normally I take Buckeye (up to the right) all the way around the lake to the Chaparrel trail, and then to the Manzanita trail. Once you're around the lake, there is a little climbing here and there. But overall it has a good mix of technichal dh, flowing singletrack, and switchbacks. Once you come down, you end up at the parking lot and just make your way back to the fireroad to the trail leading out of the park. That last trail in itself is a nice little 5-10 minute fast singletrack ride home.
For a noob like me, the loop from riding in and back to the car takes about 2 hours. Of course, there are some other trails you can go on, as well as riding the loop backwards. Be warned though that there is hike a bike sections as some of the tech sections are pretty steep and technical to ride up. Also, the "hikers only" trails, are truly for hikers only. The first and last time I tried it, a couple weeks ago, I found that most of those trails are too narrow for even people to walk on, with a lof of fallen trees and big rocks/drops along the narrow trail. So it makes it hard to get some speed and a good rhythm going. I know that at other parks, hiker trails are some of the best. but here, I wouldn't recommend it. Occasionally you will encounter hikesr/trail runners/even horseback riders on the trails. But they are all courteous and friendly.
Recommended Route: Buckeye - Skyline - around Marie - Chaparral - Manzanita
Other recommended trails in the same area: Angwin, Rockville
Summary: Great park with numerous single-track options, challenging climbs, fast, swoopy descents with numerous technical sections. Great flow throughout. If visiting Napa this justifies bringing your bike.
Since its been scorching hot lately, I tried to arrive early, but the park doesn't open until 8am (park is gated and closes at sunset). Its $6 for MTBs to get in. I rode on a Friday morning; didn't see a single person on the trail the whole ride. That said, a bell is handy b/c there are a lot of fast, blind corners.
From the parking lot I rode a service road to the trailhead. Shortly after the junction, you have the option to continue on a fire road all the way to Lake Marie, or head right to two trails. I took the second one, Skyline. The wide singletrack is a good climb with good cadence. It never gets heinously steep, but challenging technical sections. Some requiring big front wheel pops, others b/c of loose, softball sized rocks. Each section is cleanable, but combined with the pitch of the trail and amount of technical stretches, cleaning the whole climb would be impressive.
Skyline is easy to follow by always staying right. Eventually, there is a lookout point that is worth checking out. From the lookout you descend to another trail junction. Again, staying right, you do a short climb, but then the trail levels, becoming fast and smooth. To your left is Lake (more like Pond) Marie. Though there's some scum up at the inlet, the water is refreshing enough for a dip.
At the head of Marie I went left onto Chapparal Trail. The trail follows contour on the other side of the lake for about 200 yards, then begins a couple grunts of switchbacks. Once atop these, a long downhill all the way back to the parking lot begins. With the exception of a few very short climbs, it is safe to drop your saddle. After a bit I jumped onto Upper Marie Creek trail. There are some really fun, short technical sections all throughout the descent. Mostly stair-like features, none of them are hairy and have lines that reveal themselves without forcing you to check your speed too much. But because they generally runout into a turn, its helpful to have your saddle out of the way.
From there its back to the car via the frisbee golf course. There are many other trail options here, so you could spend more time or justify a return visit!
Recommended Route: Lake Marie Rd. to Skyline to Chapparal to Upper Marie Creek to Manzanita
Other recommended trails in the same area: Many other options but haven't ridden them
Summary: Um yeah I rode this for the first time today, it was 98 degrees out. I was thinking that if there were a wildfire or something I would be dead. Then without taking a good look at the trail map, I tried to climb Skyline Trail from the north end. That also make me think that I would be dead. Sorry, but the exposed loose baseball sized rocks stacked on top of silt-covered roots through the switchbacks were not exactly confidence inspiring. Several unintentional dismounts LOL. Once I got to the top and realized how stupid I had been, I found that the place totally rocks. Uhh...yeah rocks. I can just imagine what this place is like with some moisture in the ground, it must be amazing. Nice detailed trail map too, pay attention to it. Oh, and to the people complaining about paying to ride this place. It's SIX DOLLARS. If you cannot afford to pay SIX DOLLARS to ride all day, you should stay home.
Recommended Route: NOT recommended Skyline from the beginning, you must ride it downhill or you will head home crying like a little child.
Other recommended trails in the same area: I totally dig Lynch Canyon as a training ride, but not much single track.
Summary: 8 Miles +/-. Sweet rolling singletrack through chaparral and oak studded hills. Technical! A real gem as the trails haven't been buffed out for the flat landers. Lot's of steps, waterbars and a few hike-a-bike sections. Only one human encounter during the 2 hours I was there.
Recommended Route: I rode it in reverse: Manzanita, Chaparral, Marie Creek, Skyline-Buckeye-Skyline.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Annadel, China Camp, Rockville, Jack London.
Review Date January 22, 2004
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Aerobic Difficulty 4 of 5
Technical Difficulty 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Visitors rate this review 5.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: kingpin
Summary: My first impression of the park was not a good one. You have to pay six bucks to get in. I was a little turned off by that. But once I started ridding the trails I forgot about paying my way in the trails are awsome. I have been to many other places in the area and this is one of my favorites. The single track downhill is unbelievable. Narrow and technical, most of the area stays shady all day long. There are quite a few trails and every one I rode seemed to be better than the last none. I woul deffinitly recommend checking out the area (try to forget about the six bucks).
Recommended Route: Stay on the main road for the climbs and pick any single track comming down they are all good rides down.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Rockville