Napa Valley leg-stretchers

hot air balloon in Napa Valley

Just because you’ve had your fill of food, wine and vines doesn’t mean your restless Rover is ready to call it a day. After all, there’s not much exercise to be had in a tasting room. If the two of you need to burn a few calories, we suggest starting your day at Canine Commons dog park, part of 157-acre Alston Park northwest of downtown Napa. This fenced, 3-acre romp space (small dogs have their own area) is custom designed for off-leash play. In addition, dogs under voice control are allowed to accompany you without a tether on almost 30 acres of open space surrounded by vineyards above the dog-park enclosure. In addition to Alston Park, you’ll find off-leash areas for dogs under voice control at Napa’s Shurtleff and Franquelin dog parks and in the undeveloped areas of 350-acre Kennedy Park.

Triniti and Lilli enjoying Alston Park in Napa. Photo by Teri Marshall.

For leashed walks, check out the three miles fairly gentle (yet challenging in places) trails at Westwood Hills Park just a mile off Highway 29 in the southern Napa Valley. It’s a half-mile climb through a fragrant eucalyptus forest to a great viewpoint at the top—and if you don’t feel like climbing, you can stretch your legs on flatter sections of trail at the base. Easier still: take a stroll along the downtown River Walk or check out the trails in Trancas Crossing Park, a 33-acre preserve where you can enjoy nature and even launch a kayak.

To really escape the tourist crowds, try the serene, four-mile perimeter hike around Lake Hennessey, Napa’s municipal water-supply reservoir and a popular fishing and birding destination. If you’re feeling really ambitious, block out a day for the challenging, 8.3-mile Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga, which provides sweeping views of the valley and up-close looks at striking volcanic formations.

A bit farther afield, Lake Berryessa beckons with the easy, 2.6 mile Smittle Creek Trail from Smittle Creek Park to Coyote Knolls in Oak Shores Park. This well maintained path follows a shoreline route alongside a quiet strait popular for canoeing and kayaking. Also at Berryessa, the Pope Canyon Trail provides lake access after a 1.5-mile hike-in from the trailhead.

Posted on: June 29, 2022

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