Hike Date: May 27, 2012
Distance: ~ 9 miles
Trail(s): American Canyon Wetlands Trail, Napa River Trail, SF Bay Trail, Mike’s Hike and Bike Loop, Napa Valley Vine Trail
Where’s it at? American Canyon’s west side on the bay


The hike along the American Canyon Wetlands Trail also goes by the name of the Napa River Trail and is a part of the massive SF Bay Trail which I’ve hiked extensively on the peninsula. The trail is fairly new and is built on land that used to be a landfill and salt harvesting production area. This doesn’t take away from the scenery too much, you really only notice it because of signage along the trail and a portion of the trail is along a hill which appears to have natural gas collection pipes.

You can get to the trail by turning off Hwy 29 at the 7 Eleven and following that road until you have to turn right or left, where you take a right turn and approach an obvious left turn which takes you to a small parking lot that has bathroom and picnic facilities. (or use the map embedded below!).

There was definitely plenty of wildlife to be seen on this hike, mostly of the winged type. I started out hiking on the Napa River Trail by taking a right near the old building you see ahead of you. This was probably the coolest portion of the whole trail, there are a ton of unusual birds flying around and filling the air with their calls. There are a few of what appear to be freshwater ponds in the area attracting all kinds of aquatic birds. Looking ahead you see a massive vineyard to the right of the trail (I’m not sure what or whose it is…), and the bay waters lapping along the left of the trail.

I got a little treat on my hike, there was a flock of turkey vultures which were hovering around a recent kill/death in the vineyards and I got a few decent pictures with several of them perched on the tops of the vine posts.

The trail keeps winding it’s way along the water’s edge and probably eventually connects to the Napa River Trail sections in Napa proper, but I just hiked for a few miles and turned back around to ensure I took in all the trails here in American Canyon at least. There is a large portion of the water that is only a couple inches deep and gives the impression that some of the birds are walking on water.

On my way back I kept going straight at the bridge rather than crossing it back to the pond area. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be able to get back to my destination without backtracking but a ways down there were some boards laid across the slough, now on my left, offering an easy crossing. I kept hiking out to a point that had some picnic tables and a pretty panoramic view of the San Pablo Bay area. I passed by some really old aloe plants (I think), with 20+ foot flower stalks. They seemed really out of place to me and must’ve been planted for landscaping purposes for some building that once stood in the area. It was out here that I saw a ton of jack rabbits, most of which sensed my presence before I could get close enough to take any pictures. I also saw lots of rabbit poop on the trail which was a big clue. After a while out here I crossed the slough and got onto Mike’s Hike and Bike Loop.

Who’s Mike? I just found it very odd that there was a Hike and Bike loop here in one of the less scenic areas of the trail, the part that loops around what I assume is an old landfill hill. Oh well, it was still pretty scenic, probably better when the grasses are green and wildflowers hide the natural gas piping. This part of the trail had some nice views of the small hills and housing in American Canyon. I saw either a garter or gopher snake along the trail here and thought it was dead. Wasn’t moving except for it’s tongue. Maybe still paralyzed from a cool night and warming it’s blood in the morning sun?

This is not really a destination hike but if you live in the area, it does offer a very serene view of aquatic San Francisco Bay wildlife, especially birds. You will likely be almost alone hiking the trails out here, and you can spend the time thinking about how much nicer it looks now than if it were still a salt and landfill zone.

Photos from SF Bay Trail in American Canyon (click to enlarge)

Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails
Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails
http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-american-canyon-wetlands-and-napa-river-trails http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-american-canyon-wetlands-and-napa-river-trails http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-american-canyon-wetlands-and-napa-river-trails
http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-american-canyon-wetlands-and-napa-river-trails http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-american-canyon-wetlands-and-napa-river-trails http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-american-canyon-wetlands-and-napa-river-trails
Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails
Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails
Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails
Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails Hiking American Canyon Wetlands, Napa River and SF Bay Trails

Directions to American Canyon Wetlands Trail


View American Canyon Wetlands Trail in a larger map

Weather at American Canyon, CA