Of the many things you expect to see in the Napa Valley, a bay view isn’t usually one of them. But now all that has changed – with the opening of two new hiking areas in American Canyon, to the south of Napa. In June, the city dedicated the Newell Open Space Preserve – a 642-acre wildlife sanctuary open to the public.

Bring your backpacks, sun hats, water – maybe even a picnic and a book – and enjoy the grassy hills and oak groves. The 2.6-mile uphill trail takes you to a 530-foot summit with panoramic views of the whole San Francisco Bay, Marin County, and the City’s skyline in the distance. It’s a great place for horseback riding, birding, and other wildlife spotting, but because cattle still roam this area, it’s off-limits to dogs.

Another great hiking option in American Canyon is the Napa River Bay Trail. The flat, 1.4-mile path is perfect for young children. It begins near Clarke’s Ranch and the eucalyptus grove and winds through restored wetlands and old salt ponds to the Napa River. It’s dog-friendly and a favorite with birders, who come to spot the raptors, snowy egrets, ducks, and sandpipers.

In fact, there’s a whole network of trails linked to the Napa River Bay Trail that are excellent destinations for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. Find your way to the intersection of Wetlands Edge Road and Eucalyptus Drive. There’s parking at the Wetlands Edge Viewing Area and Trailhead. Then choose one of several options:

  • The Wetlands Edge Trail follows Wetlands Edge Road from Eucalyptus to Kensington Way for two miles.
  • Mike’s Bike and Hike Loop Trail is a two-mile loop around an old decommissioned landfill.
  • The Napa River Bay Trail will take you 1.4 miles out to a nice view of the Napa River.  Once you’ve crossed the pedestrian bridge, turn left and follow the path out to the river.  Locals call this area “Glass Beach” because of all the water-worn glass found on the shore.
  • San Francisco Bay Trail north to Green Island – The newest part of the trail, this 2.8-mile-long path will take you north along the Napa River and San Francisco Bay Trail.

Until the early 1800s, three native American tribes – the Patwin, Coast Miwok, and Wappo – lived along this river. They hunted local game, fished these waters, and harvested edible native plants. Now we can experience the same natural beauty they enjoyed for thousands of years.

For more information about American Canyon’s open spaces, you can check out the city’s website or call 707-648-7275.