Trail Safety


Be safe, be responsible.

by Philip Sales

Trail safety is important to all of us. Trail users will have noticed our public agency partners have new trail construction projects happening on Soscol Avenue and trail maintenance projects resulting from weather emergencies.

It is important that trail users recognize that the VINE TRAIL may be closed for good reasons (i.e., your safety) and it involves your cooperation. With planned projects, we work with public agency partners and utility companies to make sure that accommodations are made.

However, there are often emergency situations where we need your patience and cooperation. The aftermath of the recent rainstorm illustrates this. A large 30-inch diameter willow tree fell across the VINE TRAIL between Darms Lane and Hoffman Lane, south of the Town of Yountville. In normal times either the County Public Works crew or the City Parks and Recreation staff would have been able to deal with the situation, but with the severity of the storms, their crews were fully engaged dealing with other emergencies including mudslides in the Glass Fire burn areas. We recognize that many people use the trail, and so I approached the crew at Napa County Fire Station #12 in Yountville. I am grateful to Captains Jim and Tony who offered to help out.

The County had installed barricades and caution tape at both ends of the closed trail and the VINE TRAIL Coalition reached out on social media to alert people that the trail would be closed until the tree could be removed. Unfortunately, many people seem to think caution tape and barricades do not apply to them. While I was waiting for the fire crew to arrive, I observed several people including tour groups ignoring the caution tape. Some of them even riding under the fallen tree. It later turned out the downed tree was covered with poison oak and those people who might be allergic to poison oak may well be regretting their choice today. However, the worst incident involved a cyclist who didn't notice the caution tape and barricades. Unfortunatly, he hit the tree, fell off his bike and sustained a minor injury to his hand. Apart from perhaps a bruised ego, he proceeded on his way. My concern is that it could have been a lot worse. 

It is incumbent upon all of us to be responsible even in situations where there may not be an easy alternative to the trail. So please be patient, responsible and careful. We want you to be safe out there.