With plenty of open space and most of the valley designated a protected agricultural preserve, there are so many hiking trails and lakes and awe-inspiring views to explore. Yes, there is the wine. And the food. But Napa Valley is so much more than tasting rooms and restaurants. So, get out your boots and your daypack to see another side of wine country with our hiker’s guide to Napa Valley – from mossy creeks to rugged palisades. Several of these routes are part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail network.
Here are just some of the best places for hiking in Napa Valley:
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
This park, operated by the Napa Open Space District, is a favorite with locals. Find the entrance just a few yards off Highway 29 in St. Helena and discover more than 10 miles of hiking trails, as well as day-use areas for picnics and even a spring-fed swimming pool. There are also overnight accommodations including private cabins, yurts, and campsites for tent and RV camping. Check out the helpful visitor center and don’t miss the historic Bale Grist Mill, a historic, 36-foot water-wheel-powered mill dating from 1846. Read more about Bothe at our Insider’s Hiking Guide. $10 entry per car.
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
If you’re wondering why there’s a park in California named for the famed Scottish writer, this mountain is the spot where Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped, spent his honeymoon in 1880 with his wife, Fanny Osbourne. The rustic cabin where they stayed no longer exists, but there’s a marker on the trail to the summit. Winding through evergreen forests and chaparral, the upward, five-mile trail takes you to the top of Mt. St. Helena where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to San Francisco Bay. To the north you might spot Mt. Shasta, nearly 200 miles away. Admission is free, but a $10 donation is encouraged for the maintenance of the park, and no dogs are allowed.
Oat Hill Mine Trail
For a more challenging hike, but one with spectacular valley views, the Oat Hill Mine Trail is a 14-mile roundtrip out of Calistoga that climbs about 2,400 feet in elevation (allow about 6.5 hours for most hikers). Look out for wagon-wheel ruts in the rock, as this was a regular stagecoach route back in the day, and in the spring the wildflowers are gorgeous. This is also a popular area for birding, hiking, and mountain biking, so expect to encounter other trekkers. Leashed dogs are welcome. Bring plenty of water, especially on warm days, as there isn’t much shade along the trail.
Skyline Wilderness Park
Located just east of Napa in the south-eastern foothills of Napa Valley, this greenspace offers 850 acres with eight different trails for hiking and biking – ranging from moderate to challenging. The highest point in the park is at Sugarloaf, which offers gorgeous views of the valley and the San Francisco Bay. There is also a lovely lake (Lake Marie) and even a disc golfing course and an archery range. Dogs are not allowed on any of the hiking trails, and entry fee is $6 per vehicle.
Just west of Napa, Alston Park is 157 acres of green space. For an easy hike, try this 2.7-mile loop trail, which climbs only 236 feet and takes roughly 1 hour to walk. The park is also good for birding and horseback riding. A favorite with local dog owners, leashed dogs are welcome, and there is a dog park, called Canine Commons, in the southeast corner (on Dry Creek Road). Entry is free.
Moore Creek Park
This park offers several trail options, ranging from 700 to 1,600 feet in elevation. Try the Valentine Vista Trail (a 2-hour, 4.3–mile trail), Moore Creek Trail (3 hours and 7 miles), or Moore Creek Park Trail (9.4 miles and 4.5 hours, and more challenging than the other two). Leashed dogs allowed only in certain areas, and there is no entry fee.
If you’d rather organize a hike with a local guide, check out Active Wine Adventures, which will lead you on a beautiful hike followed by lunch and a wine tasting at a small-production winery.
Discover more ideas of ways to enjoy Napa Valley outdoors.