Vallejo recently broke ground on a new section of the Napa Valley Vine Trail that local officials hope will connect the city with more tourism while providing recreation seekers with better access to the region’s wine country.

Elected officials, transit representatives and members of the community took part in a ceremony last month to launch construction of trail expansion in the city.

When completed, the trail will accommodate bikes and pedestrians from the Vallejo Ferry Terminal all the way to the foot of Mount St. Helena in Calistoga, for a total of 47 miles.

Local leaders break ground on the Vallejo portion of the Napa Valley Vine Trail, Aug. 24, 2023. From left to right: Benicia Mayor Steve Young, Napa Valley Vine Trail founder Chuck McMinn, Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell, Vallejo Assistant City Manager Terrance Davis, Solano Supervisor Erin Hannigan, and from Caltrans, Sergio Ruiz. (Katy St. Clair/Bay City News)

Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell was the first to speak and he didn’t mince words: This trail could bring the city some money.

“As a former biker, I can tell you that I enjoy riding,” he told the crowd gathered Aug. 24 at the harbor off Mare Island Way. “I grew up … where there are nationally sanctioned races, which means I’d like to talk about economic benefits of this project.”

A cycle of opportunity

McConnell envisions a bike race starting in Vallejo with the potential to bring in thousands of people.

“Let’s build it and make it a world class event,” he said.

The trail project includes shelters, interpretive panels, mileposts and “wayfinding,” which is a fancy way of saying directions for travelers.

The Napa Valley Vine Trail was conceived in 2015, and so far, several portions of it have been completed.

A partial map of the Napa Valley Vine Trail shows the 5-mile segment (in blue) that recently began construction through Vallejo. When complete next year, the segment will connect with existing portions of what is planned to be a 47-mile trail. (Courtesy of vinetrail.org)

The Vallejo portion will be 5 miles along Wilson Avenue, Sacramento Street, Enterprise Drive, Lewis Brown Drive, Broadway, Sonoma Boulevard, Meadows Drive and Catalina Way in the northern end of the city. It will be connected to the trail in American Canyon, in the southern portion of Napa County. The Vallejo portion of trail should be completed by this time next year.

According to vinetrail.org, the trail currently exists in three sections, with some in American Canyon, Calistoga down to St. Helena, and from Yountville into the city of Napa.

Napa Valley Vine Trail founder and Board President Chuck McMinn spoke at the Vallejo groundbreaking and said that trails such as these open up the possibilities of hiking and biking for “ten times as many people” as are willing to do so along the sides of streets.

“We’ve seen that already up valley where the trail exists,” said McMinn. “Eight to ten times as many people are using the Vine Trail as before it existed.”

Residents use it, too

McMinn said 70 percent of those using the trail are residents from the area and not tourists, as well.

In addition to McConnell and McMinn, Solano Supervisor Erin Hannigan was on hand, as well as Solano Transit Authority Board Chair (and Benicia Mayor) Steve Young, Caltrans Chief of the Office of Transit and Active Transportation Sergio Ruiz, and Vallejo Assistant City Manager Terrance Davis.

The project is a collaboration between Caltrans, the Solano Transportation Authority, and the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition.

Katy St. Clair got her start in journalism by working in the classifieds department at the East Bay Express during the height of alt weeklies, then sweet talked her way into becoming staff writer, submissions editor, and music editor. She has been a columnist in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. Starting in 2015, she begrudgingly scaled the inverted pyramid at dailies such as the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vacaville Reporter, and the Daily Republic. She has her own independent news site and blog that covers the delightfully dysfunctional town of Vallejo, California, where she also collaborates with the investigative team at Open Vallejo. A passionate advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she serves on both the Board of the Arc of Solano and the Arc of California. She lives in Vallejo.