Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Eco-Touring” May 2009.
Getting Connected With The Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition
Ramblin’ On, by the Napa Nomad – Eco-excursions in the Napa Valley
By Arvis Northrop
If we think back, imagining a few centuries ago, we might picture the Wappo tribes of the Napa Valley moving along the Valley floor on foot, traveling from Napa to Calistoga and back. We might think about how we, as human beings, thrive from being grounded, on the Earth, at one with Nature. In our 21st Century I believe that just about everyone has an essential connection with Nature; traveling on foot, walking the trails to be closer to our environment. No matter how industrialized and homogenized our homeland may become, we seem to have a calling to get our feet back on the ground.
Just this sort of calling has united a dedicated group of Napa Valley citizens to work together on a vision of connecting the foot and bike trails we have, from American Canyon to Calistoga. Can you imagine? Do imagine! Natural, safe and scenic trails for walkers, bicycles, skates and skateboards! Babies pushed in strollers and seniors buzzing along on scooters. Our community out along the edges of our roads, moving along our valley floor, up close and personal with our winding Napa River. This is the vision of the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition.
In September 2008, a 501c (3) status was formed by the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition to follow on the Napa Valley Greenway Feasibility Study; commissioned by the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency (NCTPA; http://www.nctpa.net/reports.cfm). From the Greenway Study’s text: “The greenway will provide a continuous, high quality experience for bicyclists, pedestrians, and others, for trips to school, work, shopping, recreation, and exercise. The project is expected to take its place among some of the best-known trail systems in the state, such as the San Francisco Bay Trail and American River Parkway, and offer tangible economic, environmental, health, and other benefits to Napa County residents. The project will also protect and enhance the Valley’s unique environmental and agricultural resources.”
The Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition members are committed to getting this project moving for our community. There are eighteen Napa County organizations represented in the Coalition, working together on engineering and community outreach. Committees are in place for marketing, grant solicitation and a capital and fundraising campaign. It is truly an alliance. Their partnership functions to achieve agreement on protection of our agricultural preserve along with providing recreation for residents and visitors. Property owners, with segments along transportation routes, can volunteer their participation by requesting easements of their property from the county government. Existing trails will be linked all along the Napa Valley. The Coalition elicits enthusiasm from all concerned entities. Imagine members of city and county councils and committees with cartoon thought bubbles above their heads, happy images of themselves on bikes or with their dogs and kids enjoying the outdoors together.
I was happy to discover new trails throughout the valley. With determination, the links from American Canyon to Calistoga are getting connected. One of the newest trails completed is the mile-long Washington-Dunaweal Bike Path in Calistoga. My experience of this flat, paved trail is being out in the middle of the valley, smack-dab on the valley floor. I was surrounded by the Sugarloaf range with Bald Hill jutting upward in the east and the forest of Diamond Mountain to the west. Looking west I became captivated by the contrast of spring green oak trees in line with the evergreen forest. This new trail gave me a new perspective on the diversity of the terrain of our valley. The Washington-Dunaweal trail is accessible at the end of Washington St. with parking near the Little League field.
A more urban experience is the convenient Rail Trail in Napa, connecting California Blvd with Solano Avenue to Redwood Road. This connection is a twin overpass alongside the Wine Train tracks that extend over Highway 29. On the Solano Avenue side the trail meanders behind the Chablis and Redwood Inns stopping, for now, just short of the crossing at Redwood Road. With these new trails and those throughout Napa County, the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition will strive to complete Phase One: engineer and build a 25 mile multiuse Vine Trail route from Dunaweal Lane in Calistoga to Trancas Street in Napa.
As our Napa Valley has evolved there are many changes to the landscape; a Wappo tribesman would now be lost, his trails and landmarks gone. But, in our century there are still many citizens who are seeking alternative, eco-friendly ways to enjoy the nature of our landscape. The Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition is an alliance that gives recognition to those people and organizations that have worked long and hard for the conservation and preservation of the valley.
The Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition welcomes questions and participation from all citizens of Napa County. Please visit the website: http://www.NapaValleyVineTrail.org. You may also direct communication to Pam Hunter, Marketing Chair at 707-258-1699, extension 15.