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Calistoga, California, United States

Napa Valley Woodlands, Pioneer Cemetery, and Grist Mill

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park: Out and back hike to the Historic Bale Grist Mill.

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.1 miles / 5.0 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly
 
Overview: This short hike provides an overview of some of Napa Valley's pioneer history and journey through several of the region’s plant communities. It connects two state parks in one short trip with visits through an early historic cemetery and the watershed that supplied the restored old grist mill. Not a leg burner but it can provide a nice workout if you let it.

This trail is for hikers only.

The park is about halfway between Calistoga and Saint Helena in Napa Valley on Highways 29/128 in a convenient touring location. It is also connected to the Bale Grist Mill SHP.

Trails are suitable for hiking, equestrian use, and biking.

There are family and group picnicking sites and camping facilities with restrooms and showers.

Bothe-Nappa Valley is one of only two state parks with a swimming pool (seasonal).

Equestrian concession (seasonal).

Operating Hours
8am to Sunset
Telephone
707-942-4575


Tips: Stay on the trails and beon the watch for poison oak, found in nearly all areas of the park. Contact (even when dormant) can cause a severe rash. Remember, "Leaves of three—let them be!"

Mid-to-late April is a great time to see the early wildflowers and native orchids blooming.

Dogs are restricted to the camp and picnic areas and must be leashed. They are not permitted on the trails or in the pool area. Dogs may not be left unattended and must be inside a vehicle or tent at night.
Seasons/Climate Recommended Clothing
The park exhibits more seasonal changes than most Californians experience. Hot, dry summers change to mild, wet winters; in between, in spring and fall, the park and its surrounding area are probably at their finest.

Summer temperatures may reach 105 degrees Fahrenheit, but nights are usually cool. In the fall, when daytime temperatures are more pleasant, the leaves begin to turn, creating a dramatic and colorful display.

Temperatures don't often go below freezing and snow is infrequent, but nearly 45 inches of rain are apt to fall during a single winter - between December and March.

Points of Interest

Information
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Visitor Center

The Bothe-Napa Valley State Park HQ. Bothe-Napa Valley’s visitor center was originally built for George and Angeline Kellogg Tucker around 1858. Tucker family graves lie in the park's Pioneer Cemetery which will be visited on this walk.

Generally, the Visitor Center is open on weekends and contains exhibits of plants, tools, ceremonial artifacts, and basketry made or used by the Wappo Indians. Also within the center is a collection of historic photos of the property's prior uses, which includes its heyday as the popular Paradise Park vacation spot.

Adjacent is the Native American Plant Garden where one can explore local vegetation used by the Wappos and other tribes in early California.

Across the street is the park's equestrian center.

Proceed to the eastern end of the park via the road through the Ritchey Creek campground.
Junction
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Trail Head

The trail head is located at the far eastern end of the park's Ritchey Creek camping area. Parking is limited.

Take the "History Trail". This trail will lead you past the historic cemetery and the site where the first church in Napa County once stood.

On the way, we will be passing through Oak, Eucalyptus, Madrone, and Douglass Fir forests.
Junction
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Junction

One of two entrances to the Cemetery Loop. Unmarked.
Junction
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Junction

Entrance to the Pioneer Cemetery Loop Trail.
Viewpoint
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Cemetery

The heart of the Pioneer Cemetery. Many of the people here were born between the 1820s -1840s and include the resting-places of some of the original settlers of the Napa Valley.
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POI

Immediately after the cemetery the trail begins a climb up into the foothills in a westerly direction, winding through gullies. Slowly it will loop to the south as it climbs. The trail is in fair condition with rocks and roots protruding.

It would be a good idea not to stray off the trail. Much of the ground cover is poison oak. Sightlines are up to 100 feet.

Trail marker: Grist Mill 0.7 miles, our trail head back 0.5 miles.

After the trail marker the trail heads into another gully.

Early wildflowers blooming, particularly the native orchids.
Viewpoint
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Madrone Forest

Madrone Forest.

The trail begins to lose altitude and the vegetation transitions to oak, chaparral, and grasslands. Keep an eye out for deer and turkeys.


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POI

Creek Crossing. Simple when it's not raining.

The poison oak in this area is low lying and dense. In places it encroaches on the trail at waist- and even face-height.


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Junction.

History Trail 0.9 miles back to the trail head.
Continue forward 0.1 miles to the Mill on the History Trail.

Heading easterly from this junction will take us to the remains of the Old Mill Pond. The pond is a short distance away.


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POI

Old Mill Pond Dam remains. You'll notice a rock and dirt berm that the creek has cut through. The to is partially covered with bushes.

The trail crosses around the edge of the southern side of the dam and passes into a meadow that's now being overtaken by trees. The meadow extends a short distance with the trail heading back to a point on the trail near the dense poison oak patch.
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Backtrack

Retrace your steps back to the dam and trail junction at POI 9. Probably due to water catchment by the dam, the orchids can grow in greater numbers below the dam than in the surrounding area.
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Old Mill Dam

Top of the old earth dam on its center-line overlooking the creek cut.
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POI

A footbridge over the creek below the dam. Immediately after the bridge (to the north) is a broad, grassy meadow bordered on the far side by old style fencing at the park boundary.

The trail will look to the south beyond the meadow and back into oak forest cover. The grade has flattened out.
Junction
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Junction

Return to paved trails at a 4-way crossing. Immediately before the intersection sits a wood water tank.

This intersection also has trails leading off-site to the north, easterly toward the mill, trash cans and a restroom.
Junction
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Junction

At the junction there is a bridge for a deep creek crossing which will terminate at the Grist Mill park entrance area.

Continuing easterly, follow the paved path to the Grist Mill.
Landmark
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Mill Site

The back area of the Grist Mill. This area has been developed with paths, benches, and a reproduction of the water flume to supply the mill.

The flume is an impressive structure at about 3 stories above the ground.

On display is a segment of the original crude hollowed log flume found on site.
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POI

The hollowed out log.
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POI

A great vantage point of the immense 36' water wheel to power the mill.

The original mill was built in 1846 by Dr. Edward Turner Bale who received the property in a land grant from the Mexican government. The mill remained in use until the early 1900s. It became a center of social activity in the valley when settlers came to have their corn and wheat crops ground for flower. The mill stayed in operation into the early 1900s.

It was said by old timers that the flower from this mill was particularly good and by comparison, made "city breads" taste like cardboard. They felt it was due to the damp nature of the surroundings.

Both the mill and waterwheel have been partially restored and have become historical monuments.

The front of the mill has been developed as an open spot for picnicking and is used to display found antique cast iron parts from the mill's past.
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HWY 29 Gate

HWY 29 gate. An additional entrance to the Grist Mill site is south on the highway a short way.

From this point, head back to the junction at POI 16. Feel free to cross the bridge and explore.
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POI

Informational sign on the use of water power in old mills.

Nearby is a dedication plaque for the mill and the Native Sons of the Old West who set about preserving and restoring the structure in 1925, well before the land became a state park.

Begin backtracking to the starting trail head.
Junction
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Junction

Upper end of the Mill Pond Trail. Unmarked.

Continue backtracking.
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Trail Head

Return to the car with plenty of time to explore more of Boothe-Napa's trails.
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Intersection

Road to the upper campsites in the Ritchey Creek Campground.

Here we also have the day-use area, swimming pool, picnic benches and sites, restrooms, showers, and park amphitheater.

The pool is all that remains of the old Paradise Park Resort (1929-1959).


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Trail Head

The Redwood Trail Head with limited parking to explore the upper reaches of Booth-Napa.
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Entrance

The park entrance on HWY 29/HWY 128.
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Grist Mill Entrance

The Grist Mill SHP entrance on HWY 29/HWY 128.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Craig_H, Easterly from point 2, Trailhead

Napa Valley Woodlands, Pioneer Cemetery, and Grist Mill Trail Map


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About the Author

Craig_H
Craig_H
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A Trail Guide contributor for the CalParks App. A Partnership between the California State Parks Foundation...

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