I initially discovered the Napa River Trail when I decided to walk instead of drive to Soscol Cafe on a Saturday. I had heard that they have great biscuits and gravy (it is true, they are delicious). To justify eating this "not so good for you, but oh-so-great tasting breakfast" to myself, I decided I would walk there. So, as I was walking over the Imola bridge on my way home I saw a man walking his dog on a paved path below the bridge. It was then that I decided I would find where the path began and went.
After unsuccessfully finding anything on the city's website about this path, I decided to go the less virtual route and do some exploring. I initially thought that the River Walk (behind the Napa Mill and the Riverfront properties) somehow connected to the trail I had seen on the opposite side of the Napa River, but it didn't. So, I crossed the Third Street bridge and headed south on Soscol. That is where I found the northernmost "unofficial" entrance to the trail, which is a short distance south of Third and Soscol and is a small dirt path going up a bank leading to an open gate (Click here for a map of the trail).
So, a little about the trail before I continue to tell you the details of where it goes and where to find it. It is a total of 3.5 miles one way. If you are feeling ambitious you can walk/run/bike the whole trail, or if you are not feeling as ambitious you can do a portion of it (there is also an entrance next to Napa Valley College and two at Kennedy Park). I thoroughly enjoy this trail and have been back quite a few times. The paved portion is even smooth enough to rollerblade on (so '90s, I know, but still fun). And the surrounding scenery is beautiful. It is a great way to spend a few hours on a sunny day. If you haven't been I would suggest going, and if you haven't been in a while, go again.
From the unofficial northernmost entrance you follow the dirt path that after a short distance becomes a gravel path and runs parallel to the railroad tracks. This unofficial (as of yet) gravel part of the River Trail continues until you go a short distance past a large dirt pad and follow a small walking trail down a bank, next to the railroad tracks, and back up a bank to the current end of the "official" Napa River Trail. The unofficial portion of the trail is great for walking, running or biking on a mountain bike, but I wouldn't suggest taking a road bike or a street bike on this portion because of the gravel.
From the end of the official trail on, it is paved (eventually the unofficial portion of the trail will be paved and go all the way to Third Street, instead of ending just south of Third as the unofficial trail does now, and one would be able to go from the River Walk, cross the Third Street bridge and get on the River Trail). The first official entrance is next to Napa Valley College, and the second is right before Kennedy Park and the third is at the Kennedy Park roundabout (from this entrance you can either head north or south). If you continue south of the roundabout, the trail continues to go along the Napa River and then does a loop back toward Kennedy Park.
So, now you have all the details to enjoy the Napa River Trail, as well. So, go check it out.
Do you have a favorite trail? Tell me about it.