River Ecological Reserve,
Napa County Parks/California Department of Fish & Game,
1 mile loop in a tiny preserve along the Napa River, where trails squeeze through a jungle of vegetation in summer.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 1 mile loop hike is flat and easy, although navigation at the river crossing can be tough.
Mixture of sun and shade.
Under 1 hour.
Nice any time, but probably best in spring and autumn.
From CA 29 in Yountville, turn east on Madison. Drive about 0.2 mile, to a T intersection with Yount. Turn left, then make an immediate right onto Yountville Cross Road. Drive about 0.9 mile to the trailhead on the left side of the road.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Pay phone, gas, restaurants, and stores a short distance to the north on Highway 29, in downtown Yountville. No camping.
No parking or entrance fees. Small paved lot. No drinking water, pay phone, or designated handicapped parking. There is a portable toilet. There may be maps at an information signboard, but there were none on my visit. Trails are poorly-suited to wheelchairs. There is no direct public transportation to this trailhead. Note that the trail is inaccessible during wet months, when there is no route over (or through) the Napa River, generally from December to April.
Open sunrise to sunset. Single trail is hiking only. Dogs are permitted on leash.
The Official Story:
California Department of Fish and Game 707-944-5500
Fish and Game's Napa River page
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of a hike through the reserve.
Great Day Hikes in and around Napa Valley, by Ken Stanton (order this book from Amazon.com) has a description of this hike.
North Bay Trails, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a good map and descriptions of this hike.
Napa River Ecological Reserve in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike
View photos from this hike
to a pamphlet published by the Napa-Solano
Audubon Society, the Napa River Ecological Reserve "has become an
important habitat for many species of birds and other wildlife."
It's no wonder, for the 73 acre parcel has just about everything wild
animals need: abundant cover, food, and water. Valley and coast live oaks,
California bay, willow, and thickets of shrubs shelter birds, an astounding
variety of wild berries, nuts, and fruits feed birds, small mammals, and
even a host of butterflies, and the Napa River holds water all year round.
Since the reserve is a floodplain, you'll need to plan a visit during
the drier months of the year. When the river is full there is no route
across the waterway, and access to the reserve's
single trail is blocked.