Imagine one continuous 47-mile long path, connecting the entire Napa Valley, from Vallejo’s ferry to the foot of Mount St. Helena in Calistoga. Now imagine that path grounded and connected at a human scale to Napa Valley’s beautiful landscapes, multifaceted histories and heritage, world-renowned wineries, shops, restaurants, and lively arts venues, plus our schools and colleges.
Because of the visionary leadership of Chuck McMinn and a grassroots coalition that first came together in 2008, we no longer have to imagine. The Napa Valley Vine Trail
is a walking and biking trail system that will connect the Napa Valley with 47 safe and scenic miles of paved, family-friendly, free-access Class I trail, from the Vallejo Ferry to Calistoga. To date, 20 percent (approximately 10 miles) of the Vine Trail has been built and is in use. The Vine Trail has public and private easement agreements for a full 75 percent of the route alignment and is continuing to work with the handful of private owners on the remaining 25 percent.
The 47-mile route divides into 10 sections with boundaries corresponding to the AVA (wine appellation district) or individual city the trail passes through. The Vine Trail is currently working in two phases (due to funding constraints) to close the gaps between Yountville and Kennedy Park and have 14 continuous miles of Vine Trail operating in the heart of our local community. Plans are under way for a groundbreaking for Phase I Solano Ave (the Oak Knoll District section) and, in the fall, a bridge installation over Dry Creek behind the Gasser building and Cinemark to complete the Napa River Trail (Napa-Coombsville section) up to the Third Street Bridge. You can explore the route further using the draft map on the Vinetrail.org website
Also this year, the design for the entire five-mile Calistoga section, shared with the Bay Area Ridge Trail from Lower Oat Hill Mine Trail into Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, will be "shovel-ready." The design was paid for by an anonymous donor in Calistoga and just needs construction funding to move forward.
The Vine Trail is the result of an extraordinary volunteer effort that began with a grassroots coalition and the volunteer efforts of more than 30 organizations and committed individuals who share a profound interest in creating more livable, family-friendly communities and a sustainable Napa Valley future. The board and executive director donate their services, employing just one staff member.
The coalition’s efforts initially focused on implementing the Napa Greenway Feasibility Study
, a study commissioned by the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency that outlined a plan for a multiuse trail from Calistoga to Vallejo. The northern portion of trail implementation runs from the Napa crosstown commuter bike trail at Trancas Street and Highway 29 in Napa to the Calistoga Bike Trail at Dunaweal Lane in Calistoga—a distance of 22 miles. The route will follow Highway 29 and the Wine Train tracks.
The southern portion of the Vine Trail extends from Trancas and Highway 29 southeast across Napa, along the Wine Train tracks to Soscol Avenue, and then south along the river through Kennedy Park to American Canyon. From there, both a river route and an inland route are under investigation to meet up with the existing biking and hiking path in Vallejo that currently ends at the intersection of Highways 29 and 37.
A continuous Vine Trail will connect all Napa Valley communities, providing a safe, car-free alternative for commuting and fun. This will alleviate traffic congestion, taking cars off the road and pollution out of the air, significantly lowering our carbon footprint.
The total project is expected to cost $47 million, which is roughly $1 million per mile including all planning and studies, engineering, and construction. A public/private partnership, the Vine Trail is being funded with public money (75%) and private philanthropy (25%), and has received over $3 million in public grants and $7.5 million in private pledges.
In February 2014, the Napa Valley Vintners
(NVV) and Visit Napa Valley
(VNV) each pledged $2.5 million in funding for construction of the Vine Trail. What started as a dream now has more than 5,000 members and supporters helping to bring this ambitious plan to reality. Next steps include plans to integrate public art, wellness and education along the trail, transforming it into the world’s longest and most geographically diverse “art walk/art ride.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Napa Valley Vine Trail and how finding out you can get involved, click here.