Outdoor Adventures: The Best Hiking in the Napa Valley!
While most people visit the Napa Valley for the wine, many come for the outdoor adventures. It’s a favorite playground of Bay Area residents looking to escape the hustle and bustle. With quieter trails and calmer roads, hiking and cycling are fantastic options for those looking to spend some time in nature. Both are also great ways to break up a wine-tasting trip. I think we can all agree that a bit of exercise and fresh air after a day of drinking helps the recovery!
If you are a fan of cycling and looking for some great options in and around Napa, check out the blog Cycling Northern California: Experience Wine Country on Two Wheels. But if you are focused on finding some great hikes, keep reading!
First, a little familiarization for those not from the area. If you are flying in, Napa city is a relatively short drive from San Francisco International Airport (1 hour, 15 min), Oakland International Airport (1 hour, 10 min), and Sacramento International Airport (1 hour, 20 min). Of course that is assuming relatively decent traffic for all three options and anyone who has visited the Bay Area knows that it’s a flip of the coin as to whether traffic is going to be naughty or nice. Always a good idea to budget some extra time!
For more information on visiting Napa, here are some great blogs to familiarize yourself:
- Planning a trip to Napa? Here’s what you need to know!
- Napa Valley Exploring: The best scenic drives and vineyard views
- A Taste of Napa: The best restaurants in wine country
Once you arrive in Napa though, you have two options to get up valley—Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail—that are both beautiful, calm drives, so leave any stress you have behind and come explore the valley with us.
Napa and the surrounding area are full of exquisite hiking. From easy to hard, out-and-backs to loops, steep climbs to flat terrain, and spectacular views to secluded canyons, you have an immense selection to choose from. Below we’ve broken down different hiking areas based on their geographical location, then provided some options for each. All of the hikes mentioned are searchable on All Trails and rated at least 4 stars or higher—most over 4.5 stars. We’ve also included their difficulty rating and whether or not it’s a loop-style hike. If it doesn’t say loop, assume out-and-back.
The areas listed are organized starting in the Napa city area, working up valley along the Vaca Range (east side of the valley), and back south along the Mayacamas Mountains (west side of the valley). While both sides of the valley offer a wide array of options, generally speaking, the Vaca Range hikes are going to be hotter and more exposed. They get more concentrated afternoon heat and the vegetation is reflective of that environment. If you prefer a milder climate and more protection from the sun, stick to the Mayacamas.
Lastly, before we lay it all out, it’s important to note that many of the trails in Napa are not dog-friendly, so be sure to double-check before heading out if you have a pup.
Ok, let’s get started!
The Valley Floor
Options on the valley floor are generally easier and more laid back. If you’re just looking to get outside, stretch your legs, and maybe see some vines, these options might be right for you.
- Napa Valley Vine Trail: 11.9 miles (19.2 km) out and back from Napa to Yountville, easy
- Napa River Trail Loop in John F. Kennedy Memorial Park: 2.5 miles (4.1 km), easy
- Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area: Napa-Sonoma Marshes Trail: 2.5 miles (4.1 km), easy
Skyline Wilderness Park is located at the SE corner of Napa city. The area has 8+ highly rated moderate to hard primarily loop-styleb hikes.
- Shortest: Skyline Trail and Manzanita Trail Loop: 4.3 miles (6.9 km), moderate
- Longest: Bay Area Ridge Trail: 9.4 miles (15.1 km), hard
- Crowd Favorite: Skyline Trail and Manzanita Trail Loop: 4.3 miles (6.9 km), moderate, 4.6 stars
Lake Hennessey just off Silverado Trail has some excellent hikes just a short drive from Napa. Try the north side off of Chiles Pope Valley Rd.
- Shortest: Sam the Eagle to Shoreline Trail: 2.8 miles (4.5 km), moderate
- Longest: Bay Ridge Trail: 9.4 miles (15.1 km), hard
- Crowd Favorite: Bay Ridge Trail: 9.4 miles (15.1 km), hard, 4.8 stars
Lake Barryessa is a bit more spread out and requires a bit more driving, but definitely worthwhile. The hikes range from easy to hard and include loop and out-and-back options.
- Shortest: Barton Hill Trail: 1.1 miles (1.8 km), easy
- Longest: Barryessa Peak Trail: 14.7 miles (23.7 km), hard
- Crowd Favorite: Homestead to Blue Ridge Loop: 4.5 miles (7.2 km), hard, 4.6 stars
Angwin & the Howell Mountain Region have a great selection. Angwin is a cool little college town in a beautiful pocket in the Vaca Range. Worth checking out even if you’re not hiking!
- Shortest: Mossy Rock and Mid-Forest Loop: 1.7 miles (2.7 km), easy
- Longest: John Hoffnagle Loop: 9 miles (14.5 km), moderate
Check out all the peaks on this one: Three Peaks (2861 ft, optional), Old Baldy (2743 ft), Flat Top (2730 ft), The Beehive (2733 ft), Lookout Point (2182 ft overlooking Deer Lake and Newton Lake, optional)
- Crowd Favorite: Inspiration Point, Redwood Flat, and Squirrel Trail Loop: 4.5 miles (7.2 km), moderate, 4.7 stars
Calistoga is a very cute little town at the far north end of the Napa Valley. It’s down-to-earth and a local favorite. It has some hikes leaving right from the town itself (Bald Hill Region) and some that are a short drive into the Vaca Range at Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Bald Hill region: Only 3 hikes are listed on All Trails, but there are more trails if you want to explore. They are spectacular, highly rated moderate to hard out-and-backs
- Shortest: Bald Hill: 6.1 miles (9.8 km), moderate
- Longest: Oat Hill Mine Trail: 14.1 miles (22.7 km), hard
- Crowd Favorite: Bay Area Ridge Trail: 5.6 miles (13.8 km), hard, 4.6 stars
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park & Mount St. Helena: Again, only a handful of hikes, but most are highly rated moderate to hard out-and-backs.
- Shortest: Stevenson Memorial Trail: 3 miles (4.8 km), moderate
- Longest: Table Rock and Palisades (RLS State Part to Calistoga): 19.8 miles, (31.9 km), hard
- Crowd Favorite: Mount Saint Helena Trail: 10 miles (16.1 km), hard, 4.6 stars
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park is a well-known area between Saint Helena and Calistoga along Highway 29. This park can get a bit busier with wine tourists, so definitely try to explore this one in the off-season if you are looking for something a bit quieter. It has a nice range of easy-to-moderate hikes with a mix of loops and out-and-backs.
- Shortest: Bale Grist Mill History Trail: 2.4 miles (3.9 km), moderate
- Longest: Bay Area Ridge Trail: 7.3 miles (11.7 km), moderate
- Crowd Favorite: Redwood, South Fork, Spring, and Ritchey Canyon Trail Loop: 3.3 miles (5.3 km), moderate, 4.6 stars
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park has a great variety of highly rated easy-to-hard trails—more in the moderate-to-hard range though. Again, a bit of a drive, but well worth it. There is a nice mix of loops and out-and-backs and all kinds of variations that can be created if you’re looking to explore on your own.
- Shortest: Creekside Nature Trail: 0.4 miles (0.6 km), easy
- Longest: Mount Hood: 15.2 miles (24.5 km), hard
- Crowd Favorite: Bald Mountain Trail: 5.1 miles (8.2 km), moderate, 4.6 stars