Hiking, Biking and Paddling through the Napa Valley

Living in or visiting the Napa Valley certainly comes with benefits. In addition to renowned wineries, top notch dining, cultural attractions and lively entertainment venues, the Napa Valley also boasts breathtaking landscapes and a wealth of open space. In late spring and summer, residents and visitors turn to the outdoors for recreation and fitness, or simply to escape to the stunning natural beauty of the valley. Home to the country’s first agricultural preserve and a land trust that has permanently protected more than 10 percent of the county from residential and commercial development, the Napa Valley offers ideal hiking, biking and paddling opportunities for participants of all physical abilities.

Hiking the Valley
The Napa Valley is home to a variety of hiking paths and excursions, from American Canyon to Calistoga, featuring all levels from flat easy walks, to moderate treks, even trails that would challenge the most seasoned hikers. Local favorites that are open to the public on a daily basis include: Newell Open Space in American Canyon; Alston Park, Skyline Wilderness Park and Westwood Hills in Napa; Bothe Napa Valley State Park in St. Helena; and Robert Louis Stevenson State Park in Calistoga. A comprehensive list of trails is available on www.VisitNapaValley.com. In addition, the land Trust of Napa County also offers access to protected lands that are generally not open to the public except thru their complimentary field trip program, offering a pristine glimpse of the natural and incredibly diverse flora and fauna of the valley. Check www.napalandtrust.org for information on how to sign up for a hike.
One of the most exciting projects currently in progress is the Napa Valley Vine Trail, 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 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.

Biking the Valley
Biking enthusiasts consider Napa Valley one of the most picturesque and accessible regions. 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 for cycling. The most favored bicycling route up and down Napa Valley is the Silverado Trail, on the east side of Napa Valley. It spans 26 miles 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. For visitors traveling sans bicycles, many Napa Valley resorts 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. Want your bike and wine too? Valley wineries including Ladera Vineyards and Velo Vino offer bicycling programs, offering gear and amenities to create a perfect two-wheel day in the valley.

Paddling the Napa River
For those who prefer to get experience the great outdoors on the water, both High Water Stand Up Paddle and Kayak Napa Valley offer family-friendly opportunities to experience the Napa River up close and personal, with instruction, as needed. With the recent river restoration efforts, now is a great time to experience the unique ecosystem of the Napa River and its wetlands.
As many locals and veteran visitors to the valley will tell you, come for the wine and food, but don’t forget to take full advantage of this beautiful valley. So get on your feet, on your bike or hit the water and experience the Napa Valley from a whole new perspective!   NVL