Mt. Veeder and Enchanted Hills Camp
The History of Enchanted Hills
Enchanted Hills has a rich and fascinating history. For many centuries, Mt. Veeder was inhabited by the Wappo Indians who subsisted off the plentiful local wild game and plants. Spear points and stone implements are still occasionally recovered in the area. The Native American word for elk was “Lokoya”. Native American history and language is reflected in some local landmarks, such as Lokoya Road and Lokoya Lake at Enchanted Hills. Loggers were the first Europeans to come to the area. In the 1800’s, a sea captain, Stalham Wing, initiated plans for a stagecoach trail up the eponymously named Wing Canyon. At one time the trail was wide enough to accommodate a four-horse stagecoach. The old stagecoach route can still be traversed through the wilds of Enchanted Hills. Wing is also credited with the birth of viniculture on the mountain. In the 1860’s, he grew and produced the region’s first mountain wines. Sheep shepherds populated the higher elevations. One of the oldest buildings still standing on Mt. Veeder is an old sheepherder’s shelter, which has been converted into a stone tasting room at the Mayacamas Vineyard.
Later in the century, the area became known as the Napa Redwoods, a destination for well-healed people from San Francisco who traveled by train, ferry, buggy and stagecoach to the Lokoya Lodge on the site where Enchanted Hills Retreat resides today. The rock foundations of some of our present buildings date from the 1880s when the retreat was known as the Johannesburg Restor, a seasonal resort. Just like today, dappled light streaming through towering trees, fragrant wild blossoms and plentiful natural springs offered a haven from the bustling pace of daily life.
In 1950 Rose Resnick founded Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind here, the first camp for the blind west of the Mississippi. Blind herself, Rose believed that she gained courage and independence from her childhood as a camper at an East Coast camp for the blind. A local realtor described the land as “over 300 acres on the enchanted mountain.” After purchasing the site and establishing the camp, Rose decided to name it Enchanted Hills, as she feared that over-protective parents of blind children would not send them to a “mountain”. Surprisingly, the land had a history of blind campers prior to Enchanted Hill’s founding. It was the site of a boys’ camp from the 1920’s to 40’s and was used annually by a chapter of the Berkeley and Oakland Blind Boy Scouts each summer.
The Flora and Fauna of Mt. Veeder
In springtime, the winding road up to Enchanted Hills glows in vibrant greens. The grass, the moss, even the Redwood trees pulsate with new growth. Meadows explode with vermillion and periwinkle as wild rose, lovely ithuriesl’s spear, yellow eyed grass, Douglas iris and a myriad of wild blossoms dot the landscape with ephemeral hues.
Wildlife varies from the more common raccoons, wild turkeys, gray squirrels, deer, and foxes to rare and elusive bears, bobcats and mountain lions. River otters have been known to visit Lokoya Lake to snack on fresh fish and splash around. Wild turkeys, woodpeckers, ravens and a variety of song birds make their home at Enchanted Hills. Spotted Owls are known to inhabit the Redwood Groves on the mountain.