Oat Hill Mine Trail + Farmstead = Happy Dogs
The first of many “fun things to do with your dogs” posts, I recently spent a day in the Napa Valley with a friend and three dogs and it didn’t disappoint.
We were planning on walking the under construction Napa Valley Vine Trail when I ran into Nat on Instagram. Like an old friend who knows a thing or two about a thing or two, Nat helps you plan adventures with nothing more than a text. So text I did and she guided us to Oat Hill Mine Trail and Farmstead for lunch after. And it was perfect.
Thinking through timing and temperatures, we met at the trail head at 9am. It was easy to find and we were lucky to find parking, as there are only a few spaces at the base of the trail, but seemingly a lot more options along the streets nearby. It was a Friday so not as crowded as a weekend might be which was also the case on the trail.
In researching the hike some sites stated it was off leash with voice control. We did experience this, and the two dogs we passed leashed up once they saw us and all was well. Most of the trail was 5-6 feet wide so passing with my sometimes reactive dogs was no issue and in most places you are able to see well ahead and behind you to eliminate surprises. A lot of reviews mention the rocky terrain, but we were only able to do the first three miles due to fire closures and it was very manageable yet challenging in that good get into that connective tissue sort of way. I’d say hiking boots for the pups is optional, but may get more important when the whole trail (it apparently gets rockier the farther you go) and the same applies for people. There is also a considerable incline so this would be a hike for people and pups with moderate levels of stamina or more.
With lots of shaded areas and trees arching over the trail this was vaguely reminiscent of the Temescal Canyon trail, one of my faves in LA. We left feeling like we’d had a great workout, tired pups in hand with a protesting Mimi refusing to get back in the car. If you’ve Napa-ing after I do suggest a change of clothes and shoes as the hike was quite dusty and we were quite dirty when we got back to the cars.
About 15 minutes back in the direction we came from was Farmstead, also recommended by Nat, sitting on the 29 in St. Helena and part of Long Meadow Ranch. Gorgeous yet down to earth space with a large dog friendly patio and bar. The staff was personable and accommodating to our needs for pup seating and vegan eats. And speaking of vegan eats...while there was no dedicated vegan dish so to speak, we were able to easily create a vegan family style meal mostly by putting cheese on the side with the following:
Wood Grilled Castroville Artichoke
Caramelized Beets (so good we ordered a second)
Crispy Herb Fried Potatoes
Braised Cannelini Beans
**In full disclosure, I’m not vegan, but enjoy vegan food often :)
As their website states, “Long Meadow Ranch’s celebrated American farmhouse cuisine is rooted in the Hall family tradition of showcasing ingredients fresh from our farm, ranch and vineyards” and you could definitely taste it. I couldn’t help but smell and taste something Hillstone-esque about the experience and upon a little old fashioned google search I learned the original Executive Chef, Sheamus Feeley, has a long standing place at Hillstone both before and after his time at Farmstead. Once a Hillstone fan, always a Hillstone fan I guess ;).
Fi and Sully got to join us for lunch and over exerted Mimi was able to rest close by in the van with the windows down and a cool breeze. She’s not quite ready for fancy lunches (a term I lovingly stole from a seven year old) so this was a perfect set up for us. Fi stole the show on the “runway” that transported dog loving people in and out of the restaurant and had the cutest interlude with a baby and her mom (too awkward to whip out the phone for pictures), while Sully kept his focus on his Momma like any good boy would...but did have some fans come over for snugs after eyeing him from afar. No “is that a pitbull? Or “he’s awfully calm for a pitbull” nonsense, just dog love and happiness all the way around.
It was a good day. Make that a GREAT day.