Parks Around The Area: Throwing Dog Lovers a Bone
Some people just cannot stand to be away from their best friends for longer than a few hours. The bond between canines and humans has been traced back to at least 15,000 years ago. Remains in Northern Europe clearly record a mutually beneficial relationship between dogs and people. No surprise for those who adopt our fuzzy quadruped friends – the love is tangible and goes both ways. We who are among that number feel the deep sense of loss every time we leave the house for work. Forlorn pups grow sad at departure, never knowing when we will return. That’s why so many dog adopters opt to travel with their best buddies.
The Hills are Alive: Alston Park
Local dog lovers spend a lot of time in Alston Park, a lovely stretch of valley in Napa’s northwestern patch. A reasonable two-hour walk here takes people and their canine companions through various types of hilly terrain and flatter paths. Climbs tend to be mildly challenging, but the views they afford are still incredibly rewarding. Down below, nearby towns and vineyards will come alive as though you were looking at a fine painting.
There’s plenty more to see here than lofty vistas, however. Tree-lined creeks offer the comfort of shade, shelter and a sort of solemn accompaniment. Bird watchers will encounter hawks and kites. And then there’s Canine Commons, located on a plateau atop one of the hilly areas. This whole zone is a designated area where your dog can run freely off-leash in a safe environment, enjoying all the smells and sounds with their enhanced senses. Expect to find local residents sharing the space with you…and who knows? You might even make a friend while your unleashed pals play in the grass together!
Community Connection: The Vine Trail
Napa Valley’s Vine Trail is one of the great success stories for grassroots efforts in providing safe and environmentally-conscious hiking opportunities in densely populated areas. This ambitious project has managed to secure 47 continuous miles of fantastic trails that start at the Vallejo Ferry Terminal and meander all the way up to Calistoga. And yes – dogs are most welcome here! Creating a nurturing and safe space for your pooch is part of the deal, along with promoting cycling and walking.
What’s extra cool about the Vine Trail is its emphasis on cultural exchange. Locals are encouraged to mingle with the tourists. There are public art projects along the stunning landscapes that encourage diversity and interaction between visitors and residents. This means that while you stretch your legs with your puppy, you also have a great chance to become part of the area’s cultural tapestry. It’s a very rich experience for both you and your little fuzzy pal!
Taking it Easy: Timberhill Park and Trancas Crossing
Not every hiking excursion with your dog has to be as epic as the Vine Trail or as extensive as Alston Park. Some of the local dog-friendly spots in the vicinity are a lot mellower, yet just as beautiful. Timberhill Park Trail is a great place to spend a little quality time in with your leash-bound companion. At about a mile-and-a-half long, it’s modestly sized but well worth the effort. Verdant hills provide a briefly moderate climb that ends up with just as postcard-perfect a view as you would find at any of the much bigger parks nearby.
Trancas Crossing Park Loop is a bit smaller still in terms of trail length. The hike there measures in at about three-quarters of a mile, yet still offers up thirty-three acres of greenery. Amid the greenery, you’ll find an easygoing paved trail to traverse. It runs along the Napa River and past a kayak launch, where paddlers eagerly take to their freshwater adventures. Pleasant, undemanding and meditative, this is a great choice for those looking for a less ambitious trek that will satisfy them and their doggies.
More to Explore
The Napa River has even more dog-friendly spots for you and your best friend to discover. Oxbow Preserve’s trails lead to a major bend in the river, offering a hairpin view of the waterway. You’re likely to pass fishermen as they angle for the local catch. There has been a major effort to restore the area with strictly native flora, meaning you’ll get an authentic look at the region’s nature instead of imported eucalyptus trees.
A little less wild but no less diverting is the sprawling Kennedy Park. Here you and your dog will see more urban park features like playgrounds, sports fields and developed picnic areas. It, too, lies along the Napa River, and a boat launch will be part of your experience. A municipal golf course edges much of the space. You’re likely to just see more people in Kennedy Park. But that just means more opportunities to mix with the locals! Make sure your pooch is comfortable with crowds because this space is definitely a hotspot for humans – and in many cases, their dogs, too.