Hiking, Biking and Kayaking in Napa Valley
April 17, 2015
The Napa Valley is well known for wineries, delicious dining and spas but we also boast stunning natural beauty, breathtaking landscapes, and a wealth of open space. Home to the country’s first agricultural preserve and a land trust that has permanently protected over 10 percent of the county from residential and commercial development, the Napa Valley is the perfect place for hiking, biking and paddling opportunities for visitors of all physical abilities to enjoy.
Hiking, Parks and Open Space
The Napa Valley Vine Trail: The Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition is a grassroots nonprofit with the vision to complete a walking/biking trail system connecting the entire Napa Valley. Beginning at the northernmost tip of the San Francisco Bay, the Vine Trail will continue north for 47 miles through the world-renowned vineyards and towns of Napa Valley to its northern gateway in Calistoga at the Oat Hill Mine Trail near the foot of Mount St. Helena. Ten separate sections, each named for a Napa Valley town, city or vineyard AVA (American Viticulture Area) are in various stages of design or construction, with portions of the trail already open to the public. When completed, the Vine Trail will provide a safe and sustainable, 47-mile linear park perfect for walking, biking, running, and appreciating the Napa Valley. Follow the
progress of the Vine Trail by visiting www.vinetrail.org.
Newell Open Space Preserve: Newell offers 642 acres of open space and wildlife habitat, including an important raptor migration resting area, in the hills east of American Canyon. In 1999, the late Jack and Bernice Newell, longtime patrons to local charitable causes and avid outdoor and hunting enthusiasts, donated the land to the City of American Canyon to create the Newell Open Space Preserve. Dogs are not permitted in the preserve. 4381 Broadway Street, American Canyon
Alston Park: Alston Park covers 158 acres in the unobstructed rolling hills of northwest Napa. The open-space park, owned by the city of Napa, was made public in 1991. Alston Park features three miles of meandering trails that are open to equestrians, mountain bikers, hikers, and dog walkers. Redwood Creek, a tributary of the Napa River, forms the park’s western boundary. Trails climb to the upper area known as Canine Commons, a popular off-leash dog area. 2099 Dry Creek Road, Napa
Skyline Wilderness Park: Skyline Park boasts 850 acres and has something for everyone. From hiking, camping, picnicking and horseback riding, Skyline includes more than 25 miles of trails and a short main trail (just over 2 miles) that leads to Lake Marie. Most trails are not strenuous and, on a clear day, the ridge trail offers views all the way across the bay to Mt. Tamalpais. There is a nominal daily visitors fee and additional fees associated with camping or bringing bikes, horses or recreational vehicles. 2201 Imola Avenue, Napa
Trancas Crossing Park: Located in north Napa, this property was donated to the Land Trust of Napa County by Hall of Fame golfer Johnny and his wife, Linda Miller, in 2001. This 33-acre open space park features trails, interpretive signs, restrooms, and pedestrian access for hand boat launching into the Napa River. Park hours are from sunrise to sunset. Restoration of native plants, trees and habitat has been a key focus of this project. The park is a beautiful urban oasis for bikers, runners and dog walkers alike. 610 Trancas Street, Napa
Westwood Hills Park: Westwood Hills is a quaint park with 3 miles of diversely forested trails. From open meadows to dense woods, this hike offers views of Napa, lovely picnic spots and even a small museum that showcases many of the plants and animals found in the area. 3107 Browns Valley Rd., approximately one mile west of Highway 29, Napa
Bothe Napa Valley State Park: Located in the northern end of the valley between St. Helena and Calistoga, this State Park is nearly 2,000 acres and has trails that run along creeks and through redwoods, and offers plenty of campsites and other available activities. There are many family-based activities nearby and trails for hiking, biking and horseback. A trail connects Bothe to the Bale Grist Mill, a water-powered grist mill that was built in 1846. It was once the center of social activity as Napa Valley settlers gathered to have their corn and wheat ground into meal or flour. The mill and its 36-foot water wheel are protected as a state historic landmark and have been partially restored. North St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), 5 Miles North of St. Helena
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park: This 5000-acre park hosts Mt. St. Helena as well as a statue of the famous author for which the park was named. Stevenson spent his honeymoon in a cabin near the summit of Mt. St. Helena in 1880, where he also wrote his famous travel memoir “The Silverado Squatters”. The area features rough terrain, with evergreen forests in the canyons on north-facing slopes and chaparral on the south-facing slopes. There is a five-mile hike to the top of Mt. St. Helena, which provides a view of much of the San Francisco Bay Area. On clear days the top of Mt. Shasta may be seen, 192 miles to the north. To protect the park’s wildlife and other natural resources, dogs are not permitted in this park. 3801 North St. Helena Highway, Calistoga
Bicycling in the Napa Valley
The Napa Valley Welcome Center provides complimentary bike maps to help visitors explore the Napa Valley on two wheels. With its varied terrain, beautiful scenery and mild weather, the Napa Valley is an ideal destination for bicycling for both transportation and recreation. All five cities (American Canyon, Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga) are flat and compact, which makes cycling perfect for sightseeing.
Until the Napa Valley Vine Trail (Class I) is completed, the most favored bicycling route up and down Napa Valley is the Silverado Trail, on the east side of Napa Valley. It features 26 miles of Class II bike lanes, from Trancas Street in Napa to the junction of Highway 29 in Calistoga. Crossroads provide riders access to the town of Yountville, the communities of Rutherford and Oakville, and to the city of St. Helena.
Many Napa Valley resorts, including The Carneros Inn and the Andaz in Napa, Hotel Yountville and Bardessono in Yountville, and Solage Calistoga and Indian Springs in Calistoga, provide guests with complimentary bikes and suggested routes. In addition, many bike shops, including St. Helena Cyclery and Calistoga Bike Shop, offer bike rentals and insider advice for riders. For guided or more organized tours, Napa Valley Bike Tours provides a wealth of options.
Among wineries with bicycling programs, Ladera Vineyards in Napa Valley offers a “Cycle the Road Less Traveled” package, which includes bikes, helmets and everything you need for a six-mile ride of mostly flat terrain with moderate hills sprinkled throughout. Velo Vino in St. Helena will arrange a custom fitted bike, provided by Calistoga Bike Shop, and help guests pick the perfect route.
Kayaking in the Napa Valley