The distance: 2 miles

The CityGirls rating: 7

The hiking book: a brief mention in Off the Beaten Path Northern California plus a bit of Internet searching

Last weekend was less of a hiking weekend and more of a sitting-outside-in-beautiful-weather-drinking-wine weekend. We know, our life is hard.

We made our now-annual wintertime trek to the wine country just north of San Francisco for a weekend of sun, relaxing, and wine. This year, like last, we were in and around Calistoga, a small and still rather quaint town in the northern part of Napa Valley.

Fine weather and fine wines at Bennett Lane Winery

Calistoga is known more for its hot springs and mineral waters (yes, this is where the Calistoga water comes from) than its wines, which mostly means that its excellent wineries are a little less crowded and a lot less kitschy than their better-known counterparts lower in the valley.

This isn’t a blog about wine tasting, though, so we’ll just give you the highlights. Our current favorite, Envy Wines, continued to impress us with pretty much all of their wines. The guys pouring wine at Lava Vine are hilarious and they make damn good Port. Bennett Lane has a beautiful garden outside their tasting room where we love to sit and enjoy their excellent wines; we just wish they were a little more in our price range.

And then there’s Sterling Vineyards. Oh, Sterling, with your aerial tram, your souvenir wine glasses, and your resoundingly mediocre wines. A tourist trap that we wouldn’t waste our money on, but we decided to give it a try since it was included on our Winter in the Wineries passport. Good thing the view from the terrace was nice.

Anyway, after drinking our fill on Saturday and enjoying a brief soak in the hotel’s mineral water hot tub, we decided a short hike Sunday morning was in order.

Which brings us to the hike up Mount Saint Helena, just a bit north of Calistoga.  It’s a five-mile hike to the peak, but we went a bit more than a mile up before heading back. We still got some great views at that height.

The trail was pretty easy for a mountain, though the little info we were able to find suggested that it gets more strenuous further up. Mount Saint Helena also seemed to be a popular rock climbing site — we saw quite a few people with climbing gear on the trail. The trail was relatively busy, but still didn’t feel overcrowded. And the views were stunning.

This one is definitely a hike to do in the winter on a sunny day — we hear it gets ridiculously hot in the summertime, and the weather was perfect for a hike at the end of January.

We’re putting this one on the list to come back and hike all the way to the top.