Rector Reservoir Wildlife Area is a 3.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Napa, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.
Great hike. Steep in the beginning but levels out at the top. The views of the valley are vast and incredible. Rector Reservoir seems low at this time of year but tempting to visit. The lake is closed to the public and even if it was open the hike down and up would be brutal. Saw some hunters on our way up coming down from a longer trip then we were going to take. They said they went to the "antenna" which was about a half mile from were we turned around. My boys 7 and 4 made it with no problem but if you have little ones that tend to whine I would pick a different trip. This hike puts the valley in great perspective and we will be doing this one again for sure.
Marvellous views, nice variety of wildflowers, good exercise. the farther reaches of the trail are lightly trafficked so the path is a little hard to distinguish, but fun to explore. Do take care as there is poison oak right at trail's edge in several locations.
This is a great winter hike as long as it's not raining too much as it will be muddy. But when it's dry and cool there are no snakes the no stickers and it's beautifully green.
In reply to Brian Hum's concerns, that sign refers to the CDVA lands which cover the reservoir and surrounding lands. The Rector Reservoir Wildlife Area borders those lands. Stay on the trails and don't bushwhack towards the reservoir and you'll be fine. The wildlife area is public lands for hunting and hiking. For more info and an overview map you can visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at the link below. All the nice things about this hike have already been stated. The hike starts out very steep but the views you will have of Napa Valley is well worth the walk.
There's a huge sign at the entrance to the hike that says the hike is closed to the public, citing some obscure CA law(as of 24 Feb 13). Hike at your own risk!
Ronald Eric M.
There is a Napa County maintenance yard on the east side of the Silverado Trail, and there is a parking place outside its fence on the Napa end, just before and across the road from the Paraduxx winery. The trail is completely un-signed, but beaten grass shows it runs along the fence toward Napa at first, then winds up the hillside to the crest. This trail is all grassland, and the foxtails are a major hazard: gaiters are strongly advised, and long trousers are a must. In fact, thin leather gloves would be good too, as the thistles are waist-high and really hurt the hands at times. The views are great and worth the hike.
I started at 10am on a Thursday (17 Apr 2014), and was at the ridge summit within half an hour. Many pauses for breath; but the first 20 minutes are the worst. Good lightweight firm-sole boots are strongly advised. I knew the trail from several earlier trips, and continued as far as possible towards the summit. The trail becomes lost at times, and on the way back one must be careful to avoid cliffs when bushwacking. There are 2 or 3 false summits on the way. Beyond the radio towers, from 1300', one crosses a shallow valley and then climbs to 1560'; after that, what looks like the summit is at 1900'; and another mild descent is needed before climbing to the peak at 2031'. Once there, the views are spectacular, as expected. Disappointingly, however, there are homes in 2 directions within a few hundred yards, and this summit would be a very mild excursion from them -- so the accomplishment of doing it all on public land is a bit blunted. The Stags Leap crags so visible from the Silverado Trail are actually considerably lower than the summit, the cliff tops being at 1300'. Aerial photos do not show any trails, but possibly bushwacking along the 1300' contour would lead to that area without the last 700' of elevation gain needed for the summit.
Times: Including a half hour lingering on the summit, I was out 6.5 hours, and moving a little over 4 hours according to the gps. Total distance was 6.75 mi. The elevation gain was 1831 feet, from the car park at 200'.
Done this several times. A good, fairly steep workout, but the views are well worth the effort! I'd like to hear from the "flag placers" that told Sarah Smith about the way down to Soda Canyon from the end of the Rector trail. I keep drawing a blank, without going thru someone's yard. I do respect private property.
We hiked this trail today after some heavy rains. There are some parts that were muddy, but the last half of the trail was great. We tracked the length of the trail and I think people stop at the rock hill before Stag's Leap. The actual Stag's Leap is 3.0 miles from the trail head. It is steep and strenuous. I was thankful that I brought my hiking poles to help push me up the almost vertical hill. After all the hard work, the view is breathtaking. Fortunately, we ran into the people that basically trail blazed the trail. They hike it often and make sure their flags are still up. They pointed out several flags that were the original markings from the Donner party (the ones that kept going). We also learned that instead of hiking back the way we came, you can hike down the other side of the hill another 20 minutes and you end up on Soda Canyon road. So there is the possibility of shuttling this trail......I would recommend it since hiking back would have been really difficult on the knees.
We did this in and out in 1 hr 45 mins. Quick but nice. The hike up is steep in oarts but nothing to technical. Some great views of the bay and napa from the apex of the trail (a little over 1200 ft). Good hike if you dont have a lot of time but want a workout.