Though Hwy 29 and the Silverado Trail are the main routes for navigating the Napa Valley by car, there’s much more to the valley than can be experienced via a quick drive up one of these major thoroughfares. And with summer being one of the busiest times of the year in Napa Valley, it’s the perfect time to ditch the car, get off the main roads, and onto the less-beaten paths. After all, the beauty of the valley is much more evident when you take the time to slow down and savor instead of whizzing by at 50 mph. Let’s explore some of the best ways to have an off-road adventure in Napa Valley.
Vineyards by ATV
The Hess Collection Vine to Table Excursion & Luncheon: This experience begins with a guided ATV vineyard ride through the historic Mont La Salle vineyard, exploring a range of Napa Green sustainable practices. After which the Hess Collection Executive Chef Chad Hendrickson will present you with a farm-to-table three-course luncheon featuring menu items from the winery’s culinary gardens, paired with Hess Collection Napa Valley wines from estate vineyards on Mount Veeder.
Newton Vineyard Exploration: Explore the Newton estate, also known as Napa Valley’s Secret Garden, with this one-of-a-kind tasting experience. The tour begins with an exciting drive to the top of the property in a deluxe utility vehicle. Surrounded by breathtaking panoramic views of the Napa Valley, you will enjoy an intimate tasting on a platform nestled among the Cabernet Sauvignon vines, 1600 feet above the valley floor. The experience is available May-October.
For other unique winery tour options, check out this post on Wineries with a Fun Spin.
Bike, Hike, or Climb
Because all of Napa Valley is a protected agricultural preserve, it means there is no shortage of unspoiled open space perfect for hiking and biking. The surrounding rolling hills, mountains and redwood forests provide miles and miles of trails and climbing opportunities for all experience levels.
Skyline Wilderness Park: Skyline is a wonderful spot for a truly off-road adventure. In addition to over 25 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, the park features an archery range and a full disc golf course. The 2.5-mile main trail leads to Lake Marie at the eastern end, and there's also an alternate route along the ridge trail overlooking Lake Berryessa which is a much better workout, but not for those out of shape. On a clear day, you can see San Francisco Bay, Mt. Tamalpais and Mt. Diablo from the ridge trail.
Oat Hill Mine Road: For those who like a challenge, Oat Hill Mine Trail follows 8.3 miles of an old stage couch route between Calistoga and the western end of Aetna Springs Road in Pope Valley over an elevation change of 1500 feet. The trail can be divided with the halfway point at the base of the Palisades (Holms Place) with a return to Calistoga or on to Pope Valley with a car shuttle to return you to your original location (it takes two hours to complete the round-trip car shuttle). The trail provides a magnificent recreational experience for hikers, mountain bicyclists and equestrians, although the trail is rough and rocky in many places, and can be quite challenging. Visitors can enjoy sweeping views of Napa Valley along the lower Oat Hill Mine Trail, while the middle and upper sections of the trail cross striking volcanic formations. Note: Not recommended for children or novice hikers/bikers.
Active Wine Adventures Tour: If you’d rather not blaze your own trail, and like a little food and wine with your outdoor adventures, a custom-curated adventure tour is right up your alley. The local experts at Active Wine Adventures will guide you on an exhilarating hike through forests and rolling hills, followed by lunch at a restaurant, or winery picnic with wine tasting. A private excursion for 2-6 people includes a fully planned itinerary, round-trip transportation by SUV from your lodging in Napa Valley, park entry fees, bottled drinking water and the use of trekking poles.
Make Some Waves
Lake Berryessa: The east side of Napa Valley is home to Lake Berryessa, the second largest lake in Northern California. If you’re looking for a great workout, grab a kayak, canoe or SUP board (you can rent them at Pleasure Cove Marina) and explore the more than 165 miles of shoreline, where you’ll find plenty of quiet coves and hidden beaches. For a less strenuous day on the water, rent a pontoon boat, pack a picnic and cruise! Vacationing with little ones or teens? One of Pleasure Cove Marina’s brand-new speed boats are perfect for spending the day waterskiing, tubing, or fishing with the whole family.
For more on enjoying the lake life, check out this post on 8 Things to Do at Lake Berryessa.