Everyone loves a good tree swing. Remember the feeling of grabbing hold of the rope and quickly sprinting, then swinging with feet tucked up? For a moment it feels like flying. Excitement rushes through your veins and you gain a different perspective from up there.
Vacaville has two tree swings, one at each end of the town. The entire city is visible from these two swings and each one gives a unique, amazing perspective. There is only one problem: Many visitors and locals don’t know how to find these swings! To solve this problem, we've collected directions, tips, and images from some of our favorite local adventurers to help guide our visitors to the swings. Get ready for an epic ascent to the top and Instagram-worthy views all around!
Lagoon Valley Wooden Tree Swing / Peña Adobe Tree Swing
Local Expert: Angie Smith
It’s the simple things in life that often make us smile the most. The tree swing at Peña Adobe Park is definitely on the list for sure. I discovered this hidden gem a few years ago while hiking on one of the many trails throughout the park.
To discover the swing for yourself you will enter the park off I-80 in Vacaville. As you enter the park follow the signs to the dog park. As you pass the dog park you will want to head up the gravel fire road continuing through the gate up the hill till you come to where it turns and levels off a bit. At the turn, there will be a trail on the left-hand side going the opposite direction of the road. Take that to the large oak tree where the swing is located.
I would rate this as a moderate hike due to the fact that it is a gradual uphill climb. A shoe with good tread is recommended since the terrain is gravel and dirt trail. The conditions will vary depending on the weather. This is not a shaded hike so don’t forget the sunscreen and some water. It should take about 20 minutes to reach the site where you can take in the view while swinging under the canopy of one of the oak trees in this amazing place.
Local Expert: Sandra Rosa - Bella Forma Jewelry
Sometimes there are a few special spots in your town that you just love to visit over and over and it never gets old. This lush lonely tree with the yellow wooden swing is special. I’ve nicknamed it Swing Tree Hill as it’s one of my break spots during my hill runs at the Lagoon, it reminds me of simple times and simple pleasures and I always feel like a kid again soaring into the sky.
Located in Lagoon Valley Park...once you pass the gate shack, follow the road in and park in the large parking lot on the right after the dog park. If you see a green park bench memorializing my dear friend Mike aka “Papa Mitt” you are in the right place. Across the road you will see a large open spaced tree-lined path leading up the hills, this is where the path starts, just pass through the heavy metal gate. You will hike approximately 3/4 of a mile and due to the moderate incline, it should take you about 20 minutes. The path is nice and clear most days unless you encounter a cluster of cows, it is their territory so you will likely see them elsewhere if not on the path. The trail is kid and dog-friendly, but please keep your dog leashed at all times.
You will be making a left off the trail (it is not marked) when you see a wide opening and when you see the barbed wire fencing running all the way up the hillside. Once you make this left off the main trail you will see a sign that directs you to Spreading Oak Spur. Keep following, you are almost there and the giant tree should be in your sight. Enjoy the views and the shady refuge and definitely turn the yellow swing over to discover a special message written underneath.
My recommendation is to avoid going in the middle of the day during the summer as the temperatures get really hot and the path is not shaded at all. It is a dusty trail and very likely your footwear will get dirty. Bring water, stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. Going before noon or after 6pm are the best times. If you are visiting between December and April it could be very muddy if we’ve had a lot of rain, but generally, the ground is very dry and kids may want to wear long pants as the low brush near the tree may scratch their legs.
Local Expert: Mike Mora
The first time I encountered the tree with the swing on top of the hill was actually a happy accident.
I parked at the Peña Adobe parking by the lake and took the gravel road up to the radio tower in the distance. Before arriving at the tower I took a left onto another trail when I saw the tree. When I arrived at the tree with the swing it did not disappoint, the view was majestic and I could not wait to bring my friends one day to what I had discovered. Sure enough, my friends and their kids loved it, the kids could not get enough of the swing.
My advice is to arrive early to get some swings in as the sun rises, or sunset is also a sight to behold. Remember to take some hiking shoes or boots as prickly bushes are commonplace in summer. Overall, it is my favorite landmark of Vacaville and a great place to share with a loved one.
Browns Valley Tree Swing
Video Directions: How to get to the Brown Valley Tree Swing
Local Expert: Travis Williams
Do you know what I think is the best part of swinging? It’s that fraction of a second when you reach the top of your upswing, just before you come back to earth. It’s that moment of stillness where you can see your world from a slightly different perspective, and, if you go high enough, get that tiny bit of weightlessness.
You’re already treated to beautiful views of Vacaville from the hike you need to take to get here, but this swing can get you a little more up and out over the city with Rio Vista’s windmills in the background. It might seem a little scary at first because of the steep downhill descent the ground takes in front of the swing but it adds so much to the feeling of being in the air that it’s easy to get over. With all that being said, this is one swing you need to try.
Getting there is somewhat simple but like I said before it does involve a hike.
Take the Vaca Valley Pkwy exit from I-80 on the east side of the city and go west on Vaca Valley Pkwy for about 2 miles.
Turn right onto Hillcrest Cir. and go straight through the stop sign at Canyon Oak Dr.
When you get to the back corner of Hillcrest Cir. you’ll be at the trailhead of the Browns Valley Hillcrest Boulder Loop (shout out to all my rock climbing friends!).
There isn’t a parking lot but street parking is available.
Take the smaller dirt trail through the public fence and turn right.
All that’s left is to follow the trail until you get to the swing.
This is a moderately challenging hike (about 1 mile and quickly elevating) on a nonpaved trail where farmers graze the namesake of the city: cows! (although the town was actually named for founder Manuel Vaca, the word vaca means cow in Spanish, which makes "cowtown" a pretty irresistible nickname) So, I recommend hiking shoes and clothes and watch out for cow patties.
Once you get there you’ll have access to a picnic table and a bench supplied by the Boy Scouts. For those that like to rock climb, continue up the path a little farther for some pretty epic boulders to climb. But if you stay by the swing, stand next to the picnic table, put your back to the swing and look northwest towards a tree just a little way into the field. You might see some more rope hanging from a tree branch.
Special thanks to our local experts who took the time to help us create this blog to help visitors in Vacaville find our hidden gems. We appreciate their experience, wisdom and their wonderful photography. Now, the only thing left to do is strap on some hiking shoes and go for a swing!
Cover image by @myestori
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