Hikers get a panoramic view of Napa Valley from Foote Botanical Preserve on Mt. George — Photo courtesy of Solomon Atherton
Perhaps your Napa Valley dream trip includes bicycling past grapevines in the quiet countryside. You picture riding a quiet country road, pedaling from tasting room to tasting room in a pleasantly buzzed state
Just hold that thought a minute.
Cyclists sail along Napa Valley Vine Trail, a multi-use trail planned to run the length of the valley someday — Photo courtesy of Napa Valley Vine Trail
Quick Napa Valley geography lesson: The valley is 35 miles long, with only two roads running the length – Highway 29 and Silverado Trail.
Add to the equation that Napa Valley pulls in five million visitors a year. In summer, two-lane Highway 29 is logjammed. Not a pleasant place to ride a bike.
So to make your winery-to-winery ride a good experience, you'll need to have a plan.
Catch a stunning sunrise in Napa Valley, while the rest of the wine enthusiasts are asleep — Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant
Plan Your Bike Trip
If a winery-to-winery bicycle run is your perfect Napa Valley trip, then first of all, consider visiting in winter or early spring, when few tourists come to the area.
Ride Silverado Trail's bike lane, and crisscross the valley on quiet roads that cut from Silverado Trail to California Highway 2.
The lucky rider takes a spin at sunrise. The valley is stunning, and traffic's minimal. (All those Napa Valley wine tasters are late sleepers.)
Keep in mind that Napa Valley wineries are generally distant from one another. Pedaling time between tasting rooms is important to calculate beforehand, since most Napa Valley wineries require an appointment in advance.
The idyllic cycle past wineries is easier to do at sunrise, when traffic is minimal — Photo courtesy of George Rose / The Wine Institute
Map Your Route
Road cyclists get good tips from the map "Bike Napa Valley," which is downloadable on VisitNapaValley.com. Or pick one up at the Napa Valley Welcome Center in downtown Napa.
This bike map highlights safe roads and bike-friendly rest stops, including wineries that don't mind stinky cycling jerseys.
There's also bus information, handy if your legs suddenly go wobbly after the third tasting room. Vines, the local bus system, has buses with front-mounted bike racks.
Napa Valley Vine Trail – a dedicated multi-use trail – is the safest route to take, though it doesn't get you everywhere. Hop onto it when you can, or just use it as a good workout ride. This trail is slated to run 37 miles when complete.
Napa Valley Vine Trail invites joggers, walkers and cyclists through varied terrain — Photo courtesy of Napa Valley Vine Trail
Speak with Experts
You'll find Napa Valley cycling outfitters all over the valley. They rent bikes, help plan rides and offer tours. Bottom line: They know the best routes and they can help you figure out pedaling time between wineries.
Try Bicycle Works in downtown Napa. You might check out Calistoga Bikeshop at the valley's other end, too.
Mountain bikers find heaven in this wine region. Single track weaves all over nearby hills and mountains. Bike shops can point the way.
For a leisurely guided ride, visit Napa Valley Bike Tours in Yountville. One tour even dodges traffic by riding dirt roads through vineyards.
Cyclists enjoy wine on the patio of Clif Family Winery in St. Helena — Photo courtesy of Clif Family Winery
Get Down with Other Spokies
Bicycle love overflows the coffee cups at Velo Vino in the city of Napa. Grab some java amidst displays of bicycle gear, and talk cycling with locals.
Bicyclists and Clif Bars are longtime pals for the ride, and Velo Vino tasting room at Clif Family Winery continues the tradition. You can grab tasty bites and wine flights at their food truck Bruschetterria.
Clif Family Winery's bicycling-themed Velo Vino tasting room welcomes riders. Grab some tastes at their food truck Bruschetteria. — Photo courtesy of Clif Family Winery
Change It Up with a Heavenly Hike
For a change of pace, you can hit Napa Valley Vine Trail for a fast walk or pleasant stroll.
Or march on up to the ridge for spectacular valley views at Skyline Wilderness Park south of Napa.
Feeling vigorous? Tick off miles on Ritchey Trail at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, hiking past a pioneer cemetery and an old grist mill.
If you're worried about all those delectable food and wine calories Napa Valley piles on, fight back by hiking Stevenson Memorial Trail to the top of Mount St. Helena. The relatively easy trail in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park passes a memorial to the famous writer.
The summit view is stunning. You may wonder, is that the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance?
If the day is clear, it's the hiker's reward.