Distance (round-trip)

3.4 mi

Time

2 hrs

Elevation Gain

310 ft

Season

Spring
Fall
Winter

Weather

This 3.4 mile hike through Vasquez Rocks Natural Area highlights some of the fascinating earthquake geology of the area, as well as some recovering areas from a 2007 wildfire. This park’s trails meander and wind their way through rocks folded and twisted into sharp angles by the San Andreas Fault and molded into even stranger shapes by wind and water erosion. This is a beautiful and easy-moderate hike with routes suitable for just about everyone – plenty of opportunities to explore off-trail canyons and rock-scramble, too.

Vasquez Rocks is a 902 acre county park just off the Antelope Valley Freeway. You’ve probably driven past it countless times – and chances are you’ve seen it in TV shows or movies, but even if you think you’ve already seen everything the park has to offer, these rocks are worth a visit.

When you first visit, you’ll start out at the north end of the park. Drive down the dirt road past the first tiny parking area near the ranger’s station and instead park at the moderately sized spillover lot in the middle of the park. Most people will continue driving past the largest rock formation to an even bigger parking lot, but if you start off in the middle, you’ll get a nice base to start your loop of the park’s trails.

At the parking lot, look for a bulletin board on the east side. Inside this bulletin board, you’ll see the very basic park map, as well as some pamphlets detailing some of the sights in the park. I assume this information is also available at the ranger’s station, but when I was there they only had the maps in a box outside the trailer.

Look for a sign pointing toward the Pacific Crest Trail. Head down this short footpath and take a left on the PCT, heading back north toward the entrance.

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The PCT here is fairly flat and easy to follow. At first, there’s not much to look at …

… and you’ll probably find yourself gazing back toward the “Famous Rocks,” but don’t worry – in a very short time you’ll meet up with the tiny Geology Trail, which shows off some of the area’s earthquake geology. If you’ve been to the Devil’s Punchbowl, it will look fairly familiar – strangely tilted slabs of rock, some at angles of up to 50 degrees.

In about 0.3 miles, you’ll exit the Geology Trail near the ranger’s station at the park entrance. When I was there, it looked like they are currently in the process of renovating a visitor’s center and ranger station, so head toward the group camp area and continue south until you make out the History Trail (about another 1/10th of a mile from the start of the Geology Trail). Head south looking toward the Famous Rocks.

In another 0.1 miles, you will come across a marked Tatavian area on your right hand side. The small site has a few morteros and several prominent pictographs, which are well worth a visit.

When you’re done, continue heading south on the History Trail until you get to a well-marked junction with the Horse and Foot Trail, which heads southwest away from the main rock formation. This trail heads to the far-less-crowded western half of the park, but first climbs over a prominent ridge. For some good views, take a short side-trip to both sides of the ridge at about 0.7 miles.

When you’re done soaking in the views, head back west on the Horse and Foot Trail. You’ll probably notice the crowds have drastically thinned now, and while there aren’t any rock formations as prominent as the ones you just hiked away from, the trail does meander through some very interesting valleys and gorges formed by the folding earth here.

In this section of the park, there are several use trails and animal paths that branch off of the main trail. The trail junctions that are here are not very well marked, so pay attention to your surroundings. While the park is pretty small, it’s never fun getting lost when you’re trying to enjoy yourself in nature.

Stick to the main footpath, and at about the 1.2 mile mark, keep your eye peeled for a post in the ground just above the trail you’re on now (I told you this area could be confusing!). This trail heads south after a quick climb over another ridge.

On the other side of the ridge, you’ll be treated to some gorgeous views of the unique rock formations surrounded by grassland, with the San Gabriels in the background. If you can ignore the CA-14, you can imagine this is probably close to what this area looked like when Tiburcio Vasquez was using these rock formations to hide from posses.

From here, it’s a very pleasant 0.8 mile hike to the next junction. The trail here does fade in and out along the way, but it should be pretty easy to follow as it heads toward an old road at the southern end of the park.

At about the 2 mile mark, the trail ends at an old road grade. Take a sharp left on the road and follow it as it descends into one of the area’s folded canyons. In about 0.3 miles, the road comes to a 3-way intersection with another old fire road, which also happens to be the Pacific Crest Trail. Keep left at the junction and follow the PCT as it begins a moderate incline up a long ridge.

When you reach the top of the ridge, you’ll come across a sign marking a wildfire in 2007. The area is still devoid of any large trees, but it’s recovered nicely – and at this time, has a great wildflower display, too.

When you’re done here, continue along the PCT / Dirt Road until about the 2.8 mile mark, where you’ll run into a vaguely visible junction. The PCT continues to the right along the more faint path. Stay left here to cross a large field and end up at the main parking area right in front of Vasquez Rocks.

Once you cross the parking area, you’ll be face to face with the largest rock formations in the park – over 150 feet high. Depending on the time of day, you may have the entire place to yourself for scrambling, or you may be sharing it with dozens of other people … and maybe some Easter pageant participants on rehearsal, too.

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When you’re done scrambling around the rocks or staging your own Gorn battle, just hike along the dirt road through the rock formations back to your car.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker, Author of "Day Hiking Los Angeles," Walking Meditator, Native Plant Enthusiast.

Camping

Dog-Friendly

Historical Interest

Kid-Friendly

Multi-Use Trail

Potable Water

Views / Vista

16 Comments

Bruce

Bruce Sep 20, 2017 10:09In reply to: Casey Schreiner

Thanks Casey! Appreciate the reply!

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Casey Schreiner Sep 19, 2017 21:09In reply to: Bruce

Hey Bruce,

We're experiencing some technical issues with the site right now that are preventing those maps from showing. Sit tight - we're working on it!

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Bruce Sep 17, 2017 11:09

Great trial and website. Do you have a map of the trial on Google Maps? Thanks

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Casey Schreiner Dec 28, 2014 15:12In reply to: [email protected]

:)

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[email protected] Dec 27, 2014 22:12

Kiiiirk, you cannot win!!

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Petra Jun 16, 2011 14:06

I love Vasquez - excellent trip report as always! It's probably worth noting that there is very little shade pretty much everywhere in the park and hikers should prepare accordingly.

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Hiking 25 Millions Years Back in Time at Vasquez Rocks « Gregory Han Apr 25, 2011 01:04

[...] an unplanned run-in with an Easter weekend reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ taking place at Vasquez Rocks in Santa Clarita this Saturday, Emily and I were treated to a spectacle of sorts before our outdoor [...]

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Hiking 25 Millions Years Back in Time at Vasquez Rocks « Gregory Han Apr 25, 2011 01:04

[...] an unplanned run-in with an Easter weekend reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ taking place at Vasquez Rocks in Santa Clarita this Saturday, Emily and I were treated to a spectacle of sorts before our outdoor [...]

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Hiking 25 Millions Years Back in Time at Vasquez Rocks « Gregory Han Apr 25, 2011 01:04

[...] an unplanned run-in with an Easter weekend reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ taking place at Vasquez Rocks in Santa Clarita this Saturday, Emily and I were treated to a spectacle of sorts before our outdoor [...]

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vasquez rocks « Jojo Kahanding’s Blog Apr 22, 2011 21:04

[...] rocks – a more just description of this trail can be found on Modern Hiker’s blog "hiking Vasquez Rocks". I attempted this hike on a warm day in April of 2011. Having detoxed but still craving for the [...]

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Linda Apr 18, 2011 15:04

Wow--so green! Never knew there was so much 'behind the scenes' at Vasquez. BTW--all the green reminded me: FYI--the ticks are out already, so check yourself after brushing by grasses and brush. And if you take dogs, keep them close or you will be picking off ticks for days. Better yet--leave them home or take them somewhere that they won't get infested.

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Ray Anderson Apr 13, 2011 18:04

Thanks for this very informative post and the beautiful pictures.

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David Apr 13, 2011 18:04

Great trip report. I think I recognize part of it from Lord of the Rings ... or something. The 4th pic from the bottom looks very familiar.

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Vicki Apr 13, 2011 10:04

Super nice!

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Skyhiker Apr 12, 2011 15:04

Nice goldfields!

Last year, I walked north from here to the boundary of the Angeles National Forest. Very nearly got my car locked in behind the gate. They apparently lock it promptly at the designated closing time, so don't be late getting back to your car!

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dgrutherford Apr 12, 2011 12:04

WOW! I can't say that i've ever seen Vasquez Rocks so lush and green!

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