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Los Vaqueros Reservoir

Los Vaqueros Reservoir

Los Vaqueros reservoir is operated by the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD). Much like nearby Del Valle Lake (maintained by EBRPD), the reservoir supports various recreational activities like boating, fishing, picnicking, and hiking. Being a source of potable water, swimming and pets are not allowed in the area.

Note that there are two entrances within the park that do not connect: in order to drive to the other side, you’ll need to exit and drive ~45mins on Vasco.

The area supports various wildlife including bobcats, raptors, coyotes, and egrets. The hikes here vary in difficulty from gentle, flat strolls along the lakeside to steep rolling hills.

Los Vaqueros Essential Info

Hours:
September 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
October 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Nov. – Feb. 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
March 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
April-August 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Parking Cost: $6, $5 Seniors, $4 CCWD customers.
Website: https://www.ccwater.com/9/Los-Vaqueros

Getting There

Los Vaqueros Reservoir Map
Los Vaqueros North and South Entrances

There are two entrances separated by about 45 minutes, so make sure to pick the right one!

The northern, Brentwood entrance provides access to the John Muir Interpretive center while the southern, Livermore, entrance provides access to the marina. The link on the map to the right will bring you to the south entrance. For a link to the northern entrance (and through to the interpretive center), click here.

From the Walnut Creek, Concord, and Antioch areas of the easy bay, the fastest way is probably via Highway 4 West to Vasco.

If coming from other parts of the bay area, take 580E and exit Vasco road in Livermore.

Trails

Kellogg Creek Trail

Length: ~5 miles (in and out)
Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Located on the north side of the lake, this trail follows Kellogg creek to the John Muir Interpretive center. From there, it’s a short but steep climb up a paved road to the the top of the dam with access to several other trails.

Oak Tree
Oak Tree
John Muir Interpretive Center
John Muir Interpretive Center

Black Hills to Cañada Trail loop

Length: ~7 miles
Time: 3.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Shifting to the south side, this trail brings you up in the hills with sweeping views of the reservoir with good opportunities to see raptors.

Los Vaqueros Trail

Length: Variable
Time: Variable
Difficulty: Easy

Also located on the south side, this trail starts from the marina and roughly follows the lake’s shoreline. You’ll hike past peaceful coves and migrating birds resting within.

Alternates

Nearby Brushy Peak, on the southern end of Vasco Road is home to many raptors due to the abundance of mice, squirrels and rabbits.

 

Sunol Regional Wilderness – Ohlone trail to Rose Peak

Sunol Regional Wilderness – Ohlone trail to Rose Peak

Ohlone Wilderness Trail Essential Info

Length:19mi (to Rose Peak)
Time: 10hrs (to Rose Peak)
Difficulty: Hard (Elevation and Length)
Cost: $2 for a 1yr permit (available at the Sunol Regional Wilderness entry gate, comes with a map)

Facilities: Visitors Center and vault toilets.
Hours: 8AM-5PM (winter) 8AM-7PM (and later depending on month)
Dogs: $2 fee.
Parking: $5 per vehicle
More Info: East Bay Parks Website
The site says there’s no drinking water, but they often serve water out of drinking jugs near the visitor’s center.

Seasonal Note: Like many East Bay parks, Sunol Wilderness can be extremely hot and exposed during the summer.  The longer hikes are best avoided during this time of year. Spring is the best time, offering wild flowers, flowing creeks, and milder temperatures.

Getting There

Sunol Regional Wilderness Bay AreaAccess the park via 680. From the South bay, take 680N to Calaveras/84-W off ramp and make a right onto Calaveras Road.

From the northern bay areas, take 680S to the Calaveras Road/84 Dumbarton Bridge exit. Make a left onto Calaveras Road. Note that the preceding exit is labeled “Sunol” and is not the correct exit.

Stay on Calaveras Road for 4.3 mi. Along the way, you’ll come across a couple of plant nurseries, a construction aggregates facility,and a water treatment plant along the southern side of the road. The road is also popular with bicyclists.

At approximately 4.3 mi, make a left onto Geary Road. At the time of this writing, Calaveras Road is closed beyond Geary road making this turn really hard to miss.

Geary Road will eventually lead to an entrance gate and ranger booth that will provide a park map in exchange for the vehicle entry fee.

The Trail

Note: Bring plenty of drinking water or a filter. There are water spigots at camp spots along the way but they only provide untreated water.

The Ohlone Wilderness Trail is a 29.1 mile trail that runs from Mission Peak in Fremont to Del Valle Lake in Livermore. From Sunol, a popular goal is Rose Peak which is the highest peak in Alameda county at 3817 ft (Mission Peak is only a paltry 2516 ft). An alternate day trip on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail is a 12.3 mi. hike that starts from Del Valle Lake to see the Murieta Falls in the spring time.

Unless you’re planning to camp, this trail is strictly an in-out trail. Hike as far out as you desire, taking time to return into consideration.

Start this hike from the horse corral parking area near the visitor’s center where there’s a sign-in sheet for the Ohlone Wilderness Trail located at the information panel. Take the bridge across Alameda Creek and make a right onto the Canyon View trail. Veer left and ascend onto the McCorkle Trail. Follow this trail for about 2.5 mi where you’ll hit the Sunol Backpacking Camp Area.

From here the Ohlone Wilderness trail will bring you up and down through an isolated back country and magnificent landscape.

Sunol Backpackers Camp creek
A pleasant creek indicates the Sunol Backpackers Camp is close by

 

Frog Ohlone Wilderness Trail
Frog along the Ohlone Wilderness Trail finding some shade

 

Eagles Aerie Sunol Backpack Camping
Eagles Aerie site in the Sunol Backpack Camp

 

Goat Rock Ohlone Wilderness Trail
View of Goat Rock from the Ohlone Wilderness Trail

 

Bay view Ohlone Wilderness Trail
Views stretch to San Francisco Bay on a clear day

 

Squirrel Ohlone Wilderness Trail
Sentinel Squirrel along the trail