Crest, Vista Grande, Los Vaqueros Trails

  • Distance: 2.6 miles
  • Terrain: Steep climb, steep descent, loop trail
  • Highlights: View of reservoir from Vista Grande Trail, views of dam and Central Valley. You can easily lengthen this hike. Restrooms.
  • Trailhead: Start at John Muir Interpretive Center Parking Lot (JPG).
  • Recommendation: Bring water, binoculars, maybe walking sticks. See the map.
  • Hike Review Date: 8/06/2013

Start at the John Muir Interpretive Center. There is plenty of parking. Walk east and up the asphalt trail out of the lot (look for a bench). About 200 yards from there, turn left up the dirt Crest Trail and through a gate.

Looking over the Los Vaqueros Dam
Looking down on the reservoir from Los Vaqueros Trail
You’ll quickly see why it’s called the Crest Trail, because from this point on, the trail straddles the crest of the ridge and goes straight up. There are few trees and no shade until you reach the top.

You’ll see circling red-tailed hawks and soaring turkey vultures. There are often cattle here. The cattle will generally leave you alone. There’s a guide to hiking near cattle on the back of this page.

Vista Grande Trail
Once at the top, turn left on the Vista Grande Trail toward the dam. If you need to use a rest room, there is one to the right just past the antennas. Of course, this is Los Vaqueros, so naturally it’s uphill from here, though not far.

The most memorable views are up here. Look west at the reservoir, Morgan Territory and Mount Diablo. To the east, the Central Valley spreads out below you. On clear days, usually in the fall on crisp mornings, the Sierra can be seen framing the edge of the Valley.

Follow the trail toward the dam, and begin the descent. As you head down, you’ll see large concrete steps that will be a shore fishing area when the reservoir has more water. At the base of the dam is another rest room. Hike down the road and back to the Interpretive Center, as you turn up the path to the center, watch for snakes in the rocks!