Mount St. Helena will be the highest spur on the Ridge Trail—a whopping 4,343 feet—and will hopefully be dedicated sometime this year. The Ridge Trail Council has been working to dedicate a Ridge Trail spur from the Lower Oat Hill Mine Trails above Calistoga, up the Palisades and Table Rock Trails to the craggy summit of Mount St. Helena—guaranteeing wide-open vistas and a fresh perspective to all who brave the steep ascents. By supporting the Ridge Trail, you make existing trails better. The three sections that comprise this project—especially the Table Rock Trail—have a history of problems. Improper grades, inadequate signage, and faulty drainage have made portions of these trails hard to navigate. On occasion, people get lost or hurt. Cal Fire responds to about a dozen rescues annually, often requiring helicopter support. This can cost taxpayers as much as $20,000 dollars per rescue.
The first phase (adding Ridge Trail signs to improve wayfinding) is complete. Going forward, the Council will seek to raise and leverage funding to improve the grade on the trail to Table Rock. Ridge Trail Steward John Aranson states, “There are long stretches of the Table Rock Trail that exceed 30-40% grade. Trails at such steep grades allow sediment to runoff into streams and cause water pollution. Our goal is to reduce the grade to less than 15% and create a beautiful, sustainable trail.”