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Jonh F. Kennedy Memorial Park

This 340-acre park at the southern end of the city of Napa encompasses the 2.5-mile Napa River Trail, the 1-mile paved River to Ridge Trail, several sports fields, a golf course, a boat launch, and an area for flying radio-controlled model airplanes. Lawns shaded by large trees surround the picnic grounds, where many tables set on decomposed granite...
This 340-acre park at the southern end of the city of Napa encompasses the 2.5-mile Napa River Trail, the 1-mile paved River to Ridge Trail, several sports fields, a golf course, a boat launch, and an area for flying radio-controlled model airplanes. Lawns shaded by large trees surround the picnic grounds, where many tables set on decomposed granite have barbecue grills at wheelchair height. There is a ramp onto the playground, but the wood fiber surface may be challenging if your wheelchair has small front casters.

The River to Ridge Trail starts near the boat launch, passes the picnic grounds, and runs parallel to the park’s entrance road. It has some moderate slopes, and for wheelchair riders its only draw is the duck pond—after you pass that, the pavement ends (at Highway 221, where there are no curb cuts). Across the road, the trail resumes as a dirt path, continuing to Skyline County Park a mile away; I didn't explore this route on my visit.

Trail/Pathway Details

Napa River Trail

Trailhead: Boat launch

Length: 2-4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

The entire trail is level except for a slight slope at the southern end as it leaves the river and heads east toward the hills and ball fields, and one as you approach the northern section of trail from the boat launch.

Terrain: Hard

Description

This levee trail follows the Napa River, but you actually see more of the marsh terraces that were built to protect against floods than you do of the river itself. You will, however, see and hear a lot of birds: On my visit, I watched a northern harrier hawk hover low in the marsh in search of food and listened to the sweet song of red-winged blackbirds.

You can pick up the trail from several places in the park, but I started from the boat launch, close to where I parked. From here, the trail leads south in a 1.25-mile loop around a meadow with fennel, wild radish, and mustard, where I saw many butterflies; there's also an area designated for radio-controlled planes (their loud buzzing can be annoying) and two baseball fields. Most of this section is not particularly scenic. Benches along the river are good for bird-watching stops.

Heading north from the boat launch on this 1.3-mile stretch, you'll have better views of the hills and marshlands, although they're marred by some development. At the first junction, stay right to continue on the levee trail (if you turn left, the trail dead-ends in 50 feet). Vegetation here obscures views of the mudflats and marsh. After less than half a mile you leave the park boundary, passing Napa Valley College, and can see Imola Bridge looming large to the north. A good place to pause is the viewing area just before the bridge over Tulucay Creek; you may see western pond turtles, marsh wrens, black-necked stilts, great blue herons, and more. This spot is the northern tip of the South Napa wetlands, of which over 900 acres have been restored. From here you’ll pass under the Imola Bridge, and in less than half a mile, the trail ends. Plans call for extending the trail several miles toward downtown Napa.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

All of the park’s lots have several accessible spaces, except for the one at the duck pond and a gravel lot before the park’s main entrance.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

Two are in the middle of the park; they have no sink, but faucets are outside. The doors at the ones near the playground were hard to open. An accessible porta-potty is by the baseball fields.
Tables throughout the park can be reserved: 707-257-9529.

Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, November 24, 2014

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Northern end of River Trail
Northern end of River Trail (Bonnie Lewkowicz)

Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • boating
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: www.cityofnapa.org
Managing Agency: City of Napa
Address: Hwy. 121 at Streblow Dr.
Nearest City: Napa
Phone: (707) 257-9529
Hours: Park: 7 am–8 pm. Napa River Trail: Sunrise to sunset. Model plane flying area: 8 am–2 pm.
Fees: None
Dogs: On leash
Must be on a leash no longer than six feet
Public Transportation: Vine Transit

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