6 Ways to Experience the Great Outdoors

Spring has arrived and summer is right around the corner. The reservoirs are full, the skies are blue, and the fresh air smells amazing. After the Napa Valley’s long, wet winter, it’s a great time to venture outdoors again and get some exercise. Here are a few ideas to get you moving.

Take a hike. The valley is filled with an amazing range of trails for all hiking levels – it’s part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail system. Some of our favorites are the Oat Hill Mine Trail, the Stevenson Memorial Trail, Alston Park Loop Trail, Skyline Wilderness Park, and the Newell Open Space Preserve in American Canyon. If you’re looking for a guided hike, use Active Wine Adventures or Getaway Adventures.

On a clear day, see forever. The Napa Valley is one of the premier hot-air ballooning locations in the world, with views from Calistoga to the San Francisco Bay, weather permitting. Book an early dawn flight for a true bucket-list experience – many companies also offer Champagne brunch afterward. Try Balloons Above the Valley, Napa Valley Aloft or Napa Valley Balloons.

 Be a pedal pusher. Working toward its goal of building a continuous, 47-mile bike trail from the Vallejo ferry terminal to Calistoga, the Napa Valley Vine Trail has completed a 12.5-mile section from Kennedy Park to Yountville. You can bring your own wheels, or rent them at Napa Valley Bike Tours and Rentals, which has shops in both Yountville and Napa. You can also rent bikes in St. Helena at St. Helena Cyclery.

Float your boat. The Napa River flows for 55 miles through the valley, from Calistoga to the Carquinez Straits on San Pablo Bay. The upper portion is not highly accessible, but the Napa waterfront has plenty of options for getting out on the water. Try Napa Valley Paddle or Enjoy Napa Valley/Napa River History Tours.

Get some swing time. If golf is your sport, there are several good courses to choose from: Chardonnay Golf Club, Eagle Vines Golf Club, Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park, and Silverado Resort, all in Napa. Or, if you’re staying as a guest at Meadowood Napa Valley in St. Helena, there’s a beautiful 9-hole course there – as well as tournament-quality croquet lawn.

Explore the Napa Open Space District interactive map for more outdoor adventures.

Kirsten Mickelwait is a St. Helena-based writer who has lived and raised her family in the Napa Valley for nearly 20 years.

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