Berryessa Peak Trail

HARD 25 reviews

Berryessa Peak Trail is a 14.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Napa, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from January until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
14.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3507 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

muddy

over grown

rocky

Seven miles up, seven miles down, a strenuous, 8-hour adventure above the north shore of Lake Berryessa. The trail is mostly on the Napa County side of the peak, with a brief dip into Yolo County on the approach to the summit. Beautiful, mostly single-track hike through chaparral to a 3-part summit with views of Diablo, Tam, the Mayacamas, St. Helena, Cobb, Konocti, the Mendocino National Forest's Goat Mountain and Snow Mountain, Lassen, Sutter Buttes, Sierra Buttes, downtown Sacramento, and Lake Berryessa. When especially clear, views of Shasta and the Sierra Nevada are possible. Not suitable for dogs, horses, bikes. Expect a little mud. Spring wildflowers are mediocre. The winds get severe when a front comes through, so watch the weather before you go. It is important to stay on the trail for the whole hike in order not to trespass on private hunting lands. In the chaparral, after a brief but rather steep ascent, the trail crosses a barbed-wire fence.

hiking
6 months ago

Man oh man was I unprepared for this hike! This is a strenuous hike, up and down with little to no coverage. Very little water sources so I would decide against a life straw and bring all of your water, though to bring for back up is always good. There are multiple long description of this hike that are great and really accurate so I will just say a few things I think they were missing.

If doing this hike again I could stop at the first main view which was about 11-12 miles in. It's a gorgeous view of the entire valley right after you descend up a lot of rocks. Trust me when I say you will know it when you see it. You are supposed to keep going and the end is actually when you reach the top of the two metal towers. The reason I would stop at the first view is the trail gets ugly from there and honestly kind of ruined the beauty of everything for me. The trail dumps you onto a gravel road which you follow for about 2 miles until you reach the top of the mountain, again where the metal towers are. After looking at pictures from both vantage points, there is no difference in views the hike is a lot more enjoyable if you don't witness the electric boxes, metal towers and civilization crap.

Also, we had two dogs with us. If your dog is not a seasoned trail dog PLEASE for the love of all humanity, do NOT do the entire trail or do not take your dog. Our dogs were both limpy, covered in ticks and were completely and utterly pushed passed their limit, but there was not much we could do. Literally had to carry a 60 lb dog for 2 miles downhill just to give her a break. The 2 creeks definitely gave her life once we reached them, but they are far from the "peak". The ticks I had to deal with for up to 2 weeks later, they are gross and disgusting. We did not find any on them until the sun started to go down so I would suggest to get there early and leave early. With how many complications we had on trail though it was impossible for us the finish the trail before sundown which is why we got caught in peak tick-time.

Still giving it a 4 star review though because it was a great hike, definitely overgrown, fantastic views, secluded and great challenge!

trail running
6 months ago

This trail is really overgrown!! But still doable totally. I ran in my shorts and the whole time i was thinking of ticks! I run with my dog so i kept on checking on him but didn't really start getting them until the way down.

The fist 3 miles are somewhat easy but then comes the really steep part! After mile three is steep and high!! Around mile 5 there is a 1/4 mile of downhills until you connect with the fire road. From there is steep all the way to the end of this map but you can probably keep on going if you wanted to.

On way down having really good traction shoes is the key!! You're still gonna fall a couple times if you are trail running. There is a good climb on way back but after that steep climb is all downhill till you get back to the car.

I would totally do this trail again! Check yourself of ticks!! On way down, about 2 miles from car by the small creeks there was sooo many ticks!! Be ware they were crawling all over my shoes like ants! Caught a couple trying to crawl up my legs and flicked them off.

Ware shoe gators for the tall grasses. 14.87 miles @ 3 hrs 19 minutes 22 seconds

Enjoy!!!

hiking
7 months ago

This trail was beautiful! I definitely recommend going on a cool day because it really gets hot and there is a lot of sun exposure. It was in the 60s when we went and was perfect.

The actual trail is now really over grown. The first few miles you are basically walking through the tall grass and in other parts of the trail you are fighting through trees and branches. The trailhead is also hard to spot from the road so you really have to look for it but there is a sign off the road that says Berryessa Peak Trail.

It is a tough one - you go up a steep slope, back down, then up again to the peak. The uphills are steep but at least it levels out in between and is not just uphill the entire time.

It is very secluded - I did not see another person there the entire time. It would probably be best not to go alone on this one.

Overall I recommend because it's beautiful and really challenging!

8 months ago

This trail was awesome! right when you start make sure you go to the road on the left. The first time we went right and then tried to find our way back to the main trail when we realized we went the wrong way. not a good start. went again last weekend and made it all the way. not going to lie it kicked our ass but it was beautiful. I wouldn't recommend it if it's above 85 degrees. easy to dehydrate. all in all I recommend this trail.

hiking
9 months ago

Make no mistake this trail is a butt-kicker. You're going to be hiking up and down two separate peaks to get to the summit and most times you're going straight up the slope without cross-backs. This trail is not subtle about its vertical gains. The trial runs the gamut from being wide and flat to extremely narrow, rocky, and steep and goes through two different environments the first being a grassy rolling hillside area with multiple stream crossings in the winter and the second being more of a dessert climate with tons of rocks to navigate. You're definitely gunna have to do some scrambling up and over rocks and you definitely need to keep your eyes on the trail and watch your step. However, the pay off is extraordinary. The views on the mountains are incredible even if you don't take the trail all the way to the end. Those of you who go all the way to the peak though will be treated to stunning 360 degree views spanning almost all of Lake Berryessa on one side and the Sacramento Valley on the other. Which is great since the peak is only the halfway point and you'll need to ride that visual high 7.2 miles back the way you came to get out.

Keep in mind that this trail is also very secluded and low traffic. I chose to practice some backpacking while I was here and spent about 24hrs in the trail zone and didn't encounter a single other person the entire time. So if you're afraid of silly things like dying alone in a wilderness accident, its probably best to bring a buddy.

All in all this trial is great if you want a challenging hike, with crazy low traffic, and world-class views. If not, I guess you could see what's on TV?

hiking
11 months ago

Great trail but it is not in the Cedar Roughs Wilderness. The wilderness is on the other (west) side of the lake and there are no trails there.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Loved this trail will be back soon

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lovely hike not well maintained passed property fence. I went mid summer... Not a good time to go if you want to avoid heat but still a very lovely view.

camping
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

hiking
Tuesday, April 05, 2016

This hike is for those of us that enjoy a good challenge, peaceful surroundings, and a low body count.

Be ready to climb. Bring plenty of water and protein. Be ok with taking pit stops.

hiking
Monday, February 15, 2016

In Feb. it was a hot day , around 80 degrees. There is not much shade, i would hate to do this trail in summer. There was nothing to see, but when you get up on top the view is nice. Also i had no idea where i was and how much longer to keep on going. There are couple signs ( BPT) !!! Ok... BPT what? 5 miles left? 10 miles... what? At some point there was a barbwire fence and said private property, i assume you can stay on the trail, but i gave up. was very steep and felt like rock climbing :) i did enjoy the view of the lake

hiking
Sunday, August 23, 2015

Yes, a bit over 7 miles to the peak, but it felt like a mile more to me. Distance is one thing... they there are the elements and the level of maintenance of the trail.

The elements: I went on a hot (95) August day and, the trail being mostly exposed and the sun beating down on me, I suffered a mild case of heat exhaustion at the 11 miles mark.There are shaded spots here and there under the trees' canopy and I put these to good use to bring my body temperature down and rest a bit.

The condition of the trail: this is not a national park or state park maintained trail. As others have pointed out, it is mostly a hunting trail; the only parties I encountered on my 10 hours that day were 3 parties of hunters -- not a single hiker. It is a bit of a blessing that the private land owners allowed an easement for the trail to go through, and for volunteers to do the hard work to cut that trail to the peak. So, you should expect to have to perform some level of "technical hiking" (say, watch were you put your feet, some scrambling, some sharing the trail with encroaching vegetation... hiking poles do help on some steep sections).

The trail offers a series of somewhat very contrasted sections to get to the peak.
Section 1: the first 1.6 miles are following (and crossing a couple times) a creek on an overgrown dirt road. Not many challenges there (unless you have to ford the creek during a heavy rainy season I guess). This section ends at a sharp right turn with a 4x4 post bearing the sign "BPT" (these will follow you for the first half of the trail or so.
Section 2: the next 1.5 mile continues first on the dirt road, ascending the hill side. All would be well and good if it wasn't for the fact that the dirt road is ripe with countless small crevices (the result of the very long California drought?) that are apparently catnip for my hiking poles. I spend half he time walking and the other half prying my pole out of the crevices and sinking ground. Happy when the crevices disappeared, I face the last third of that section with less than full glee: he dirt road makes way for a trail that goes straight up the hillside without even the pretense of a switch back. In a couple places I just starting sliding back down (thanks poles from stopping my slide back) due to how steep the trail was and the loose/fine dirt that covered it. This section ends at the private land easement and a wooden staircase that allows you to "step" over the barbwire fence.
Section 3: After the steep climb at the end of section 3, I was looking for a more level journey southward as the trail edges its way about 300 feet below the ridgeline. While the grade is much gentler, the surface of the trail is quite degraded. The slope of the hill is quite steep and the half of the trail on the downside has mostly been washed away or is rather unstable. The first half of section 3 (about 3/4 mile) gently ascends up and offers sweeping views to the West and the South. A couple fallen trees have forced hunters and hikers to blaze a short bypass around their trunk. The second half of section 3 (another 3/4 mile) now descends quit a bit, hugging the hillside at the base of an escarpment and is a bit more rocky than the first. The last 0.1 mile steeply descends (a few wooden steps help) to cross what must be a small stream in the wetter part of the year (Green Canyon). On this sweltering summer day, the creek-bed was a good spot for a short break in the shade.
Section 4: Past the shaded creek-bed, the trail enters section 4 (again 1.5 miles) that ascend out of the south side of the creek to cross another (small/not-shaded) creek-bed about .2 miles later). The trail then goes through a couple switchbacks to reach the ridgeline that it follows for the next 1 mile. There are many viewpoints to enjoy the panoramas all around. The trail alternates short nice dirt paths and walks over rock slabs and small boulders. There are many flat and almost horizontal slabs to sit on for a minute or two before forging ahead to the lat section.

Section 5: A bit after the 6 miles mark, the trail finally connects with the gravel road that that serves the communication equipment at Berryessa Peak. That last mile stretch is less scenic but quite welcome as it does not require constant attention to footing and direction. The peak itself is home to a couple telecommunication towers and associated buildings. However, it is worth sitting at the Western edge of the ridge and take in the amazing views over the lake and (probably) way beyond. Weather was a bit hazy on my visit to the peak and I really could not see distinctly very far... but others have noted how far we can see on a clear day.

Bottom line, this was not a walk in the park (ha! ha!) but it definitely would deserve a repeat on a cleared and cooler day if my old legs don't complain too much.

A few useful links:
http://www.yolohiker.org/trails/knoxville/BPT/index.html
http://www.summitpost.org/berryessa-peak/

hiking
Sunday, June 28, 2015

It's is really breath taking. Note a few things. This is a hunting trail. Also the first 3 or 4 miles in along the 4x4 trail is very easy and relaxed hiking. When it ends it is a bit more moderate in difficulty. Recommend long pants or gators of some sort as at the start you'll be torn up. It clears up about 2 miles in. Enjoy :)

hiking
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trail is well marked, but so lightly used as to be overgrown after the halfway point. There appeared to be lots of previous water flow throughout the trail, but all of it was completely dried out. Very pretty overall, and great view of Berryessa from the top. This year the wild flowers are abundant, and intensely colored.

hiking
7 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

hiking
Sunday, May 01, 2016

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

hiking
Sunday, February 21, 2016

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