Los Vaqueros Watershed

Diversity rules at Los Vaqueros, where you can test your mettle on one of the most calf-burning, lung-rasping climbs in the Bay Area – and of one of the area’s most placid canyon strolls. From the Vista Grande summit you can see a hundred miles across Central Valley to the purple ripple of the Sierra – and from the heart of Mariposa Canyon watch a stream pirouette past rocks and tree roots, carving a path between hillsides spattered by the yellows and violets of buttercups and shooting stars. You can hook striped bass in the Reservoir and watch golden eagles soar above the Black Hills.  

Los Vaqueros Reservoir.

Father and daughter get hooked on one of Los Vaqueros' numerous kid-oriented days.

The reservoir viewed from the Miwok Trail.

Naturalist John Mottashed ushers explorers-in-excrement into the intriguing world of coyote scat.

Mt. Diablo viewed from Vista Grande.

The violet voltage of shooting stars crackles through Mariposa Canyon in spring.

Fog rolls through the Vaqueros hills in the faint light of dawn.

Mt. Diablo fairy lanterns provide Disneylike imagery to the Miwok Trail.

Blue oaks at sunrise, Oak Savannah Trail.

Mariposa Canyon in spring.

Visitors to the Interpretive Center get to meet a (non-venomous) gopher snake up close, courtesy of naturalist Mike Marchiano.

Urchin galls cling to a fallen blue oak leaf, Mariposa Canyon.

A contestant in Los Vaqueros' annual Tarantula Run huffs and puffs his way up the Vista Grande Trail.

Winter mist glazes the hills overlooking the Oak Savannah Trail.