From Napa Valley Life
The Ten Best Bike Rides in Napa
Many people like to ride their bikes, but their abilities and ambitious vary widely. If you’re ready to tackle Oakville Grade or Howell Mountain Road, this isn’t really for you, however. It’s my choice of ten relatively easy rides of 10 to 20 miles over mostly level ground, most in circles so you don’t have to retrace your tracks – and most with a treat waiting for you at the end of the trip—a winery, casual restaurant of at least a store where you can get a snack.
1. Enjoy brunch in Yountville
One of the delightful bike trips in Napa Valley just became even better with the opening of the new bike trail along the Napa Valley Wine Train. Pick it up near Soscol Ave., then follow it to Solano Avenue parallel to highway 29 to Yountville, where you can turn right, then left on Washington Street past restaurants, galleries and shops. At the north end of town, continue east on Yountville Cross Rd. and south on Silverado Trail through the Stags Leap district and numerous wineries. Right on Oak Knoll Rd gets you off the busy trail, back to where you started. 15 miles with some gentle hills on Silverado.
2. Touring the Napa River
Napa’s river trail starts at Trancas and the river, providing a path to Lincoln Avenue. Soon, there will be a great bike route beyond, but the riverfront from River Terrace Inn to the Hatt building is impassable at present. South of the Hatt Mill, you can bicycle along the river, then slip over to South Coombs, and past the old Sawyer Tanner to Imola, where it’s a steep climb over the bridge, then right on the bike path through Kennedy Park. It ends at the boundary of the park, but may eventually continue to Vallejo. Head back along Soscol to downtown Napa. 15 miles round trip. No hills, one big bridge.
3. The eastern frontier of Napa
The eastern foothills of Napa are bucolic and uncrowded yet little known. You can head north on Main Street or Soscol from downtown to Lincoln, then up the Napa River Trail, then east on Trancas, which becomes Monticello Road, to Atlas Peak Road, where you can visit Silverado Resort. Back to Monticello, turn right on Vichy, where you glide through the back roads, and left on Hagen, following it around Napa Valley Country Club on 3rd, and back through North Avenue and south on First to Coombsville to downtown. 17 miles, mild hills.
4. Gliding through West Napa
The western edge of the valley is quite interesting. Head up Foothill at Old Sonoma Road, then follow Laurel to the left until you get to Browns Valley Road. Left on there, and you can stop for snacks at Brown’s Valley Market, then head west on Browns Valley, which turns right to go north. At Redwood, turn right unless you want to climb to the Hess Collection, then left on Dry Creek by Allston Park. Turn right on Orchard to return to Solano and to the start. There’s a secret bike path just before First Street. 6 miles, pretty flat.
5. Cooling off in Carneros
The Carneros Region is a great one to visit when it’s hot upvalley, for it’s almost always cooler there. A good place to start is the Carneros Inn, which has a deli as well as the Boon Fly Restaurant. You should cross Highway 12/121 at the light at Old Sonoma Road. Crossing carefully, turn left on 12/121, then right on quiet Los Carneros Road till it ends, then jog left to Cuttings Wharf Road. Right there. At the end is funky Moore’s Landing on the Napa River. You have to retrace to Las Amigas to get to the Napa Valley Marina on Milton Road, then along the homes behind levees along the river. The road ends at a wildlife preserve in the marsh. Then back and left at Las Amigas past Bouchaine and Acacia, and right at Duhig and enjoy a glass of bubbly at Domaine Carneros. Carefully cross the highway and return. 16 miles; almost flat.
6. The heart of the valley
A trip through the heart of the valley starts at Yountville and tours Oakville and Rutherford, avoiding main roads as much as practical. Start at V marketplace, and follow Yount St. behind Hurley’s north on peaceful Yount Mill Road. Turn right at Highway 29, through Oakville, then into tiny Rutherford. Go east on Rutherford Road, then right on Conn Creek, then left where it ends at Skellenger Lane. Then it’s right on the Silverado Trail to Yount Cross Road and returns. 5 miles and flat.
7. South from St. Helena
One of the most popular bike trips in Napa Valley starts in downtown St. Helena, traveling south along Highway 29 past numerous wineries to Rutherford, where a left turn takes you across the valley on Rutherford Rod, curving north to join the Silverado Trail. From there, it’s left and back to Pope Street, across its narrow bridge, and a return to the start and many places for a snack or glass of wine. 15 miles, almost flat.
8. North from St. Helena
A symmetrical tour heads north from downtown St. Helena past famed Beringer and the Culinary Institute of America and up to Larkmead. Just ahead on the left is the entrance to Napa Bother Park; you can actually bicycle inside it from the south. Turn right on Larkmead past the new Larkmead Cellars and then the friendly Frank Family Vineyard before getting to Silverado Trail and a zip down to Pratt, when a right across the little-used road returns you to downtown St. Helena. If you’re not energetic, you can take a shortcut on Bale Lane or Lodi Lane. 15 miles, almost flat.
9. A circle of Calistoga
The north end of the valley holds many possibilities, including a new bike path along the Napa River in Calistoga at the end of Washington Street ending at Dunaweal Lane. Catch its beginning in the center of town at Lincoln Ave., and on Dunaweal, turn left. You can take the gondola up to Sterling on the right, or visit Clos Regase’s incredible artwork on the left as you head east. At Silverado Trail, turn left to head back into Calistoga. You’ll pass the new August Brings Winery just before “Mount Washington,” see the work on the new luxury Terrano Inn on the right, and can visit new Solage Resort just beyond on the left. A quick jog takes you up to Lincoln Avenue and a return to the center of Calistoga and its many restaurants and stores
10. Bicycling East of Eden
If you’re tired of crowds, you might like to head over the mountain to East of Eden, the back country of Napa County. If you are up to bicycling, you probably have long since turned the page from these easy rides, but otherwise, drive over Howell Mountain through Angwin and park near the Pope Valley store, the only place you can buy any snacks or drinks (other than wine) in the whole valley. All these trips are roundtrips, I fear, north by Litto’s Hubcap Ranch to interesting Aetna Springs, which is being restored into a private club. Or you can go south, then across Pope Canyon Road and down Hardin Road to really get away; make sure you bring some water and a lunch. Then it’s back with a shortcut across Pope Valley Cross Road for a slightly different route. Flat, but different distances.
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