Skyline Trail, Thatcher's Rim Rock Trail, and Lake Marie Road Loop

HARD 87 reviews
#3 of 7 trails in

Skyline Trail, Thatcher's Rim Rock Trail, and Lake Marie Road Loop is a 7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Napa, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 7.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,929 feet Route Type: Loop







wild flowers




no dogs

Skyline Wilderness Park is located in the hills immediately east of the town of Napa and rewards hikers with great terrain from oak forest and grassland to lakes and mountain tops. Winemakers know that Napa Valley is a great place to be all year round, hence it's possible to find great hiking conditions here on virtually any month of the year. $5 day use fee

23 days ago

Did a clockwise loop starting on Manzanita trail to Thatcher Rim Rock and back on Skyline. This makes it slightly longer but more interesting. The climb to peak is steady. However; the first 1/4 mile of descent from the peak is treacherous but rest of the trail is moderate. Views are okay.

29 days ago

Did this counterclockwise and IMHO it’s probably the best way to go. That’s because when you get close to the top it is fairly steep with only a dirt slope. It was hard enough going up, but I’d hate to come down that short section if I were going the other way. At any rate, good trail. Saw a quite a few deer including one large buck, a coyote, redtail hawk, lizards, and what I’m pretty sure was a snake. If it was it was not a rattle snake as it didn’t have a rattle on the tail. I only saw the tail as it slithered away and I think with how big it was and the way it moved that it could not have been a lizard. This was actually in the area of the before mentioned steep dirt slope. All and all, this was worth doing even though it cane in closer to 7.8 miles from the parking lot and back.

4 months ago

Upper Skyline Trail is a beautiful start to your trek, and allows you to get the climb in elevation done first. It's also nicely shaded. If you decide to add Thachers Rim Rock trail to your trek, be sure to bring extra water. I highly suggest starting Rim Rock at the entrance south of Lake Marie because there is a steep climb on the south end, and it is easier to find footing climbing up than trying to crawl/slide down. Rim Rock is an ass kicker. There is a lot of steep trail with little to no shade. It's a near climbing crawl for the first mile or so, followed by breathtaking views and a nice cool-off period, then followed by a somewhat gradual and occasionally steep decent. Again, don't be caught without ample water supply. Rim Rock is the most stunning trail at Skyline for those willing to pay the toll.

Nice view the whole way. Not a difficult trail, had fun and no mosquitoes just flies :)

7 months ago

$5 Fee to enter. Lady at gate said go clockwise starting on Manzanita Trail from the gazebo area. Thatcher Rim Trail was steep and unrelenting. Definitely muddy here and there. Keep an eye out for tics - I found one on my leg. It gets confusing on the second half because there are lot of roads. We took the dirt Lake Marie road back - had to squeeze through a fence (?) and then walked through the RV park to the parking area. Nice trip.

8 months ago

I’d recommend this to people who like a challenge. It was more than medium but not real hard. Rocky in parts and gravelly, but mostly dirt. The trail up to Sugarloaf was narrow and steep but slow and easy was good. Would not take my dog on this but maybe if you have a dog that is used to rocky hikes. Very quiet and great views of hills and valleys. Not too busy on a February Saturday.

8 months ago

This is not a technically difficult hike. It climbs in elevation the first half of the hike, so it’s somewhat strenuous. Trail is level and flat though. It was safely done with a one year old and 3 year old on our backs.

11 months ago

Absolutely loved this hike. The weather was perfectly fall and there was so much about this hike that my husband Justin and I loved. Glad we wore layers because some came off and some came on as the weather demanded. It was a birthday hike too and I'm so glad we picked this one to celebrate. Lots of water everywhere given the recent rains. And the views are amazing. I particularly loved the variety of views and the feel of the rolling hills as you ascend the mountain. What a great hike, great lake, and a great way to spend the afternoon. Met some wonderful fellow hikers - added bonus!

Mon Oct 29 2018

This is a really nice park for hiking, camping, horse back ridding and even peddle bike riding. From easy to hard trails with great views.

Sun Sep 16 2018

In the sun the entire time...being plenty of water. Took about 3 hours to complete. $5 entry to get into the park.

Thu Jun 14 2018

Lots of long grass, little visability, no view at the summit. Overall not worth it.

Wed Jun 13 2018

First thing, you have you pay a $5 dollar say use fee to hike. It's well worth the money if your up for the challenge. If you hike the whole loop, skyline trail to sugarloaf trail on to manzanita trail, your in for about a 3 hour walk. I started at 10:00 a.m. and finished at 1:00 p.m., covering 7.8 miles and 2,040 ft elevation change. I didnt see any rattlesnakes, hogs, deer, cougars etc. Does not mean that they are not there, so be mindful. I would not recommend bringing children, as some areas are very steep and slippery and it gets extremly hot. Bring lots of water and stay hydrated!! Overall a fun, tough hike. Have fun and be safe!!

Thu Dec 07 2017

This is a good hike and doesn't take that long. It's located very close to downtown Napa.

Thu Sep 14 2017

Love this trail. I live just down the road so go on it a lot. Definitely tons of wildlife - NOT the trail to zone out and listen to your music on! Pay attention to snakes, pigs, lizards, turkeys, and deer aplenty. I've never seen a wildcat but know many people who have! I like to go counter-clockwise to kick off the workout in high gear and then take it easy the rest of the time. Also a good out and back if you go counter-clockwise to the Lake Marie and back.

Tue Aug 15 2017

Watch for rattlesnakes!

Mon Jul 24 2017

Park closes at 6:15pm in the summer!!!!

Mon Jul 03 2017

Great trail, with lots of views. You will start sweating early since Skyline Trail has lots of ups early on. Rim Rock is quite a bit of a workout, but you won't find too many people up there, if at all. For an easier loop, cut back at Chaparral. Allow yourself some extra time to sit by the lake and take in the scenery. If you are doing the Rim Rock - there's a few great spots in the shade for lunch.

Mon Apr 10 2017

Great trail that takes you along Lake Marie and up to Sugarloaf with breath-taking views of Napa Valley and San Pablo Bay. Wear comfortable hiking shoes, bring plenty of water, and a snack. Expect to spend about 3-5hrs hiking.

Sat Mar 18 2017

Sun Feb 19 2017

With all the recent rains there was a lot of running water, it was peaceful.

Fri Sep 16 2016

This was a decent, somewhat strenuous hike. It is *extremely* dusty. The first quarter of the trail is deceptively easy. Rock Rim was the hardest part of the trail by far.

Mon Aug 15 2016

Love it, I run it at least once a week. Its an excellent interval workout, with fantastic views, especially if you take Skyline to the top to loop around and Chapperell on the way out. Bring water! IMPORTANT: *Keep attention though*, the place is not joking about the Rattlesnakes, Wild pigs, Coyotes, and Mountain Lions that they warn you about on the many signs on the way to the trailhead. I run into at least one or 2 of those things every week. Making Noise on certain parts of the trail or going in a group is a good way to avoid problems, but makes it less likely to see wildlife. The Coyotes will run away, The mountain lions are very shy, My eye is always looking in the trail grass for rattlesnakes, and well; The wild pigs are *a**holes (but rarely encountered) Have fun!

Tue Jun 07 2016

awesome hike...very steep in areas...

Sun Jun 05 2016

very steep...start at skyline for xtra calories burned

Tue Apr 26 2016

I actually found this trail to be more of moderate type climb. The fact that it's switchbacks all the way up made it very easy to ascend. There are areas where the trail is literally 12 inches wide and a mis step can send you into a ravine. All in all.... a beautiful walk.

Sun Aug 16 2015

I am giving the trail 4 stars on the assumption that, on a crisp and clear day, the views of Napa Valley and the North Bay must be quite beautiful. I did not get a chance to confirm that; I hiked the trail in mid-90s heat and widespread hazy conditions, courtesy of the forest fires to the North and West of Napa. I had planned to hike Berryessa Peak Trail on that day but most trails in the vicinity of Berryessa lake were closed. I retreated to Napa and the Skyline Wilderness Park. Getting there later than I normally like to start a hike, I settled for an 8 miles loop. Immediately after paying the day use fee ($5 as of 8/15/2015) at the gate, I turned right to snatch a spot in the parking lot that would be shaded in the afternoon (beats returning to a car that has turned into a toaster-oven). The access path to the trail system starts at the South West corner of the parking lot. Below is a good description of how to get to the Skyline Trail from the parking lot. (Excerpt copied from the website). You may also just want to be on the lookout for "To Trails" signs. " Begin on a trail starting at the edge of the parking lot, beneath a big coast live oak. A small RV park is off to the left, but the Martha Walker Native Habitat Garden creates a buffer between the trail and the campground. After passing some fruit and nut trees and climbing a few stairs, the trail seems to disappear in the middle of a picnic area. Stay to the right here (if you reach the Social Hall you're headed the wrong way), passing a row of elevated concrete stands. On the far side of the picnic area, a wide trail swings in from the right, reaching a crossroads with a gravel road. Veer left onto signed Lake Marie Road. Coast live oaks, snowberry shrubs, and blackberry vines strain against a fence that closely borders both sides of the broad dirt road." Once you reach the dirt road with chainlink fences on both sides, you are entering the trails system the loop uses. I used the Skyline Trail (well marked in many different places) which is part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail circling the whole SF Bay. The Skyline trail is a bit of a roller coaster starting with a "healthy" climb to the ridge line via a series of switchbacks. After that, the trail mostly traces it course just below the ridge, on the East Side. At several points along the trail, sweeping views of the Napa Valley and the North Bay open up. The trail finally descends toward Lake Mary. The Skyline trail itself does not reach Lake Mary but instead hugs the hillside about 100 feet above the lake. If you want to get to the lake shore you will need to veer left as Skyline reaches the Northwest end (beginning) of the lake. Past the lake, the Skyline trail crosses the creek (i splashed water on my t-shirt and shorts to cool down a little). You then have 3 options to got back: (1) Retrace your steps on Skyline (2) Take the Chaparral trail that follows the creek on the East side (3) Continue .25 miles and take the Thatcher's Rim Rock Trail on the left. I chose option 3, knowing in advance that the Rim Rock trail is advertised as "very steep and narrow". For once, advertisers did not lie! It is a sustained and at times very steep ascent from the creek to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. There is even a short series of tight small switchbacks that reminded me of "Walter's Wiggle" on the Angel's Landing trail of Zion National Park. Once on Sugarloaf Mountain, the good news is that it is pretty much all downhill from there. At the point where Rim Rock gets down to the creek bed again there is apparently an option to rejoin the parking lot while staying on the East side of the creek. Not being sure that this was an option, I crossed the creek on a wooden bridge and turned right on Lake Marie road to return to the head of the Skyline trail (closing the loop) and, from there, to the parking lot. All said, a bit under 8 miles.

1 month ago

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