’s year-round fair weather and stunning stretches of vineyard-dotted roads make it the ideal place to explore by bicycle. A great alternative to wine tasting by car, biking offers the chance to slow down, revel in the fresh Napa Valley air, and truly appreciate Wine Country’s gorgeous scenery. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to get a little exercise in when you’re indulging in Napa’s world-class wine and food scene.
The majority of Napa’s roads are well-paved and relatively flat, with some moderate, rolling hills that even beginner bikers can handle and enjoy, while experienced riders looking for a challenge can take to the winding back roads and mountains that hug the valley. Here’s everything you need to know about cycling in Napa Valley, including where to get bike rentals or book a bike tour.
Before you go
Courtesy of Clif Family Winery
Whether you bring your own bike or rent one, you’ll want to make sure you pack the same essentials that you would to cycle anywhere: a spare tube in case of a flat tire, water, energy food, and your photo ID and a credit card, in case you want to stop somewhere along your journey. In California, only those aged 18 and under are required by law to wear a bicycle helmet, but it’s still highly recommended. Napa Valley roads like Hwy 29 and the Silverado Trail are heavily trafficked by cars and on the Wine Country back roads, there are many sharp turns that can cause blindspots for drivers.
Napa Valley Bike Routes
Courtesy of The Napa Valley Vine Trail
If you want to keep things leisurely, downtown Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga are all easily cruiseable and a bike will help you bop around from shops to restaurants to wine tasting rooms at your own pace.
But if you do want to work up a bit of a sweat, one of the safest and easiest bike routes is The Napa Valley Vine Trail
. Clocking in at 12.5 miles point-to-point, this bike route will take you from South Napa to Yountville along a nicely-paved, car-free road. Depending on which end you start cycling from, this is the perfect route for grabbing lunch at either the Oxbow Public Market
or one of Yountville’s many restaurants, like Bouchon Bistro
, RH Yountville
, or R+D Kitchen
Eventually, the vine trail will be extended all the way to Calistoga, stretching a total of 47 miles. Until then, you take the bike lane along the Silverado Trail from Napa to Calistoga (we don’t necessarily recommend Hwy 29, as it’s much more heavily trafficked), but most cyclists come to Napa Valley to get off-the-beaten-path and away from the wine tasting crowds. Either way, you’ll find vineyard views abound.
The bucolic rolling hills of the Carneros wine region in south Napa offer some of the best views — not just of vineyards, but of bright green pastures and cows, too — and can be tackled by beginning and moderate riders. Serious cyclists seeking a climb can make the trek up Mt. Veeder, a favorite of Napa locals. Located on the west side of Napa town, the highest point of this ride is 1,400 ft. The way down is fast and fun, but be aware of the occasional car coming around the corner.
Another advanced option is to pedal the switch-back back roads that lead to Pope Valley. Many cyclists refer to this area as “old Napa,” for it’s seemingly untouched by tourism. Here you can clock some real mileage, but it does require quite a bit of steep climbing. One of the most popular loops starts in St. Helena and winds back around Lake Hennessey for a total of roughly 35 miles.
Courtesy of Getaway Adventures
If you prefer a bike tour to rentals — sometimes it’s nice not to have to plan and you’re guaranteed not to get lost — book with Getaway Adventures
, which takes you on Napa Valley’s quiet, scenic, and low-traffic country lanes, with winery stops along the way. The Sip & Cycle Experience
, for example, is a full-day Wine Country adventure (five-and-a-half hours long), and the tour includes stops at a few Calistoga wineries and a boxed picnic lunch. Overall, you’ll get in about 12 miles and plenty of wine. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, book a combo bike and kayak tour.
Courtesy of Clif Family Winery
Many Napa Valley hotels and resorts offer bike rentals (sometimes complimentary) for guests, like Carneros Resort
, and The Setting Inn
. You can also walk in or get bike rentals — everything from a road bike to a cruiser to electric (E-bike) — delivered right to your accommodations from shops like Napa Valley Velo
, St. Helena Cyclery
, and Calistoga Bike Shop
Owned by the same people behind Clif Bar, Clif Family Winery
is all about vino and velo and offers a few bike packages for varying levels and interests: the Tour de St. Helena and The White Road. So if you want to practice the art of balance on your Napa Valley visit, you can pick up a bike at the winery in the morning for a self-guided tour, return it in the afternoon, and then sit down for a delicious wine and food experience.