May 27th , 2015Exploring Napa Valley on Horseback When it comes to vacation activities in Napa Valley, there are ample opportunities to choose from. One great outdoor option that can make for either a family fun activity, or a romantic couples outing, is horseback riding. The Napa Valley area offers some of the most scenic trails in the country—and depending on your preference, you can find yourself trotting, or leisurely walking, through thick wooded forests with chirping birds or sprawling rows of winery vines. You can ride by bubbling spring streams or cascading waterfalls. Vacation riders of all ages can find a trail and speed of their liking. An easy, relaxing ride upon horseback is an ideal way to explore Northern California wine country. For those that have their own horse to take along for the trip, there are some beautiful open trails to try out: Skyline Wilderness Park: Skyline Park is comprised of a beautiful 850 acres and includes over 25 miles of trails and a short two-mile main trail that leads to Lake Marie. The majority of the trails are low impact beginner level with amazing views all the way across the bay to Mt. Tamalpais. Costs for park use include a nominal daily visitors fee and additional fees associated with horses. Bothe Napa Valley State Park: Situated on the northern end of Napa Valley between St. Helena and Calistoga, this gorgeous park is close to 2,000 acres and features trails that span rolling creeks and run through sprawling redwoods. One popular trail connects Bothe to the water-powered Bale Grist Mill, erected in 1846. The mill and its spectacular 36-foot water wheel are designated state historic landmarks and have been partially restored since their original foundation. Newell Open Space Preserve: Opened to the public just last summer, this hiking area in the American Canyon just south of Napa is a picturesque 642-acre wildlife sanctuary. Filled with rolling hills and groves, the two and a half mile trail hike takes you up a summit with spanning views of the San Francisco Bay, Marin County, and the city skyline. The sanctuary is perfect for bird watching on horseback, so pack a pair of binoculars. If you aren’t a horse owner but still want to explore Napa by horse, there are plenty of guided stable rides in the area, check with your hotel for the closest options. Happy trails!