Los Vaqueros is a nearly 20,000 acre protected watershed that offers outstanding fishing, challenging hikes and an opportunity to learn about the fascinating history of the area. CCWD’s Los Vaqueros Reservoir was expanded in 2012, and can now store up to 160,000 acre-feet of high-quality water for the District’s customers. It’s the largest reservoir in the Bay Area.
The north end of the watershed near Brentwood includes the updated John Muir Interpretive Center. You can hike to the top of the dam, and there are a variety of challenging trails available with rewarding views.*1
This scenic hike goes out on Los Vaqueros Trail down to Peninsula Cove and Badger Pass Trail junction. It continues along Cowboy Cove on the Peninsula Trail and the Peninsula Crest Trail followed by a return on Los Vaqueros Trail to the John Muir Interpretive Center parking lot.
Begin this hike from the John Muir Interpretive Center parking lot, follow the steps up to the Interpretive Trail. The dirt trail drops down onto the paved road that leads up to the dam.
Continue on the paved road to the blue & white trail sign. Follow the broad fire road up to Los Vaqueros Trail junction.
Los Vaqueros Trail continues with a steep westward climb up to the top of the ridge. Enjoy the views of the reservoir!
At the Vista Grande Trail junction, turn left to stay on Los Vaqueros. The trail winds downhill with magnificent views of Morgan Territory, Mt Diablo, and Peninsula Cove!
At the next trail post, turn right to stay on Los Vaqueros, it continues westerly with fabulous views of Peninsula Cove.
Los Vaqueros snakes around the lower hillside followed by a climb up to the picnic table at Badger Pass junction.
Go left to stay on Los Vaqueros Trail, the flat trail turns southward to the Peninsula Crest Trail junction.
Go straight to stay on Los Vaqueros, the fire road comes to a Y junction.
Turn left onto the unsigned Peninsula Trail, the flat terrain turns southeasterly with beautiful views of Cowboy Cove.
The trail leads out to the tip of the peninsula with gorgeous panoramic views!
Peninsula Trail continues with a moderate climb up to the open ridge top picnic area.
Enjoy the views!
Continue northwest on the Peninsula Crest Trail, the broad fire road winds around the low hills followed by a moderate climb through the scattered oaks to the Peninsula Crest Lookout junction. For extra credit, turn left for the out and back to the lookout bench.
If not, go straight to stay on Peninsula Crest, it continues with rolling climbs to the next high point followed by a steep drop down to Los Vaqueros Trail.
Turn right onto Los Vaqueros for the return to Badger Pass junction. At this point, re-trace the route back on Los Vaqueros towards Peninsula Cove.
Los Vaqueros continues with a steady moderate climb back up to the top of the ridge.
Los Vaqueros drops down from the ridge top with grand views of the dam and reservoir!
Return on the Interpretive Trail to the parking lot.
This is a wonderful hike around the gorgeous Los Vaqueros Watershed/Reservoir area with a fairly equal amount of flat terrain and rolling climbs to keep it interesting. You’ll enjoy the extreme peacefulness and the beautiful panoramic vistas!
9.33 Miles with 1643′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1007′
Time: 4.22 hrs with a couple of stops
Hike: Challenging with steep climbs
Parking: $6/$5 Senior rate/$4 resident CCWD
Pit toilets available. No water on the trails. Bring plenty of water & food/snacks
NO DOGS ALLOWED
Weather: Sunny and warm. Temps ranging from the mid 60’s to the high 70’s with NW winds
Directions: John Muir Interpreter Center > Interpretive Tr > S-paved road > R-dirt-Los Vaqueros Tr > S-stay on Los Vaqueros Tr > up the ridgeline > S-stay on Los Vaqueros Tr > R-stay on Los Vaqueros Tr > Badger Pass Tr junction > L-stay on Los Vaqueros Tr > S-stay on Los Vaqueros Tr > L-Peninsula Tr > R-Peninsula Crest Tr > R-Los Vaqueros Tr > Badger Pass Tr junction > R-Los Vaqueros Tr > L-Los Vaqueros Tr > R-Los Vaqueros Tr > L-paved road > R-Interpretive Tr > John Muir Interpreter Center