An Insider's Guide to Vacaville's Lagoon Valley Park: How to Make the Most of Your Visit

Lagoon Valley is loved by everyone from locals to passers-by who want to experience uninterrupted nature, challenging workouts, and scenic vistas.

Lagoon Valley Park is a welcome respite along the I-80 corridor between Sacramento and the Bay Area. It's located on the outskirts of Vacaville, a charming Solano County community that borders the Sacramento Valley and the Bay Area. With its grass-covered hills rolling over the horizon, stately oak trees, a small lagoon that shimmers in the sun, and 470 acres of hiking and biking trails, this park is a delightful Northern California escape.

Lagoon Valley is loved by everyone from locals to passers-by who want to experience uninterrupted nature, challenging workouts, and scenic vistas.


Most of the park land was acquired by the City in the early 1970’s, but the park was developed under an agreement between the City and Solano County. Responsibility for the operation of the park was transferred from the County to the City of Vacaville in 1994, but the history of Lagoon Valley and the people who lived here goes back long before that. Until the 1800s, this land was inhabited by Native Americans. By the 1840s, the region that would one day become Solano County was settled by pioneers, including the prominent Vaca and Pena families. To this day visitors can explore an old cemetery located in the park as well as the Pena Adobe, one of the oldest structures in the county. (Visit on the first Saturday of the month for an educational tour of the site!)

Solano County, which is part of the Sacramento Valley despite being commonly considered as Bay Area territory, proved to be a fertile land ripe for ranching and farming.

Lagoon Valley Conservancy, Friends of Lagoon Valley, and the Pena Adobe Historical Society help protect this area.

In more recent years, private land located south of the park has been considered for development, but dedicated citizens who recreate in the park and conservation groups such as the Lagoon Valley Conservancy, Friends of Lagoon Valley, and the Pena Adobe Historical Society have made continued efforts to ensure that the natural landscape is preserved for future generations.


Lagoon Valley is a relatively small park, but there are plenty of adventures to be had within its boundaries. Hiking and dog walking are among the most popular activities here, but it's also well-loved for fishing and non-motorized boating in the lagoon, trail running, disc golf, and mountain biking. The scenery is golden later in the year but crisp and green in the springtime.

From the short and flat 2-mile loop around the lagoon to the harder switchbacks into higher elevations of the park, this park has something for everyone. Kick it up a notch and tackle the 20-mile loop around the entire park. Keep an eye out for native wildlife as you hike, but also enjoy the sight of grazing cows that roam the lower fields of this oasis.

Cows in the lagoon hills
Take a shorter trail around the lake or a 20-mile loop around the whole park. @vegamaryalice

A popular trail run is to follow the route chosen for the classic Vacaville race, the 10K Tower Challenge. It starts with the short loop around the lagoon before ascending a gravel road to a radio tower on one of the park's highest hills. It features about 620 feet of elevation gain between miles 3-5.

If you prefer to explore the trails on two wheels rather than your own two feet, the park is also one of the premier mountain biking destinations in Solano County. A good place to start is with the 7.5-mile trail that you'll find on the left as soon as you enter the park. Continue on past the wooden bridge and follow the trail to the tree line before ascending 1,181 feet in elevation on this thrilling loop.

Lagoon Valley is one of the most dog-friendly places around. In addition to the walking trails, you'll also find a 30,000-square-foot off-leash fenced-in dog park for your four-legged family members to run free. Horseback riding is also allowed at the park, so keep an eye out for equestrian users on the trails.

There's also a 27-basket disc golf course in the park, and the Lagoon Valley Disc Golf Club meets at the course weekly. Anyone can join them, and they've put in a lot of work to improve the course over the last year.

Last, but not least, go for a paddle around the lake. It's not very deep (it's around six feet) and is not stocked with fish, but it makes for a peaceful day on a paddleboard or kayak.


Lagoon Valley hills sunset
Lagoon Valley is the perfect place to watch a sunrise or sunset. @baby_scarps

With its rolling hills, dramatic skies, and surprisingly charming landscape, Lagoon Valley Park has tons of scenic viewpoints and quiet spots just waiting to be discovered.

Early morning is a great time to explore the park, although it is rarely crowded during any time of the day. Before work, you'll be treated to dewy views, cool mists, and lovely golden light casting over the hills. In the afternoon and evening, however, there are some incredible places to watch the sunsets, especially if the sky is in the process of clearing from a recent storm.

One of the best places to catch a sunset is the picturesque wooden swing that is well-loved by professional and amateur photographers alike. It's located at the top of one of the peaks along the 7.5-mile mountain biking and hiking trail mentioned above. It's somewhat hard to find, but the view from the top is worth the effort, whether you file it away as a mental image or add it to your Instagram feed.


Mountain biker in the hills

Getting to the park is easy.

One of the best parts about Lagoon Valley Park is that it is so easy to access. Located right off I-80, it's the perfect place to break up your daily commute or get out of the city on a weekend. Take exit 51B off I-80 onto Pena Adobe Road. The park's entrance is just off the freeway and very obvious.

As of the summer of 2018, the fee is $5 to park your car each time you pull into the park, although $50 annual passes are also available for purchase ahead of time.

For those using the park to pay pay station to enter and use the parking lot, there is a $5 daily cost and an option to purchase a $25 six month pass after which one can upgrade to an annual pass for an additional $25. Walk in pedestrians, equestrians, and bicyclists do not need a permit. If you have a vehicle with a DV (Disabled Veteran) plate, there is no vehicle charge to enter the park.

Originally written by RootsRated for Visit Vacaville.


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