Vasquez Rocks reminds me of the movie 2012 when John Cusack is driving the RV trying to get to the plane. This place will remind you that we live in California and the power of earthquakes. First of all the trail names are pretty much non-existent. The only signage you find are these four-foot posts saying “stay on trail” “horse trail” or “foot trail.” There are lots of trails with no signs out here. Some connect to other trails and some dead-end, usually at a place you wanted to see anyway. If you have a GPS bring it if you don’t buy one. Knowing where you are is not the problem. You can see or here the 14 freeway most of the time giving you a good landmark. The problem lies on which trail to take to get where you want to go.
Don’t get me wrong I love this place and for my purpose seeing where a trail goes is a must do. Vasquez Rocks has to be on your must see list. When you are in the creek looking straight up at these massive rock formations you cant help but be impressed with the power that created them. With that said let’s talk about the trails. The Foot Trail circles around Vasquez Rock heading north you will pass signs with a explanation of the different types of plants in the area. On the North side of Vasquez, you will see a trail heading southwest that is the Foot/Horse Trail. Pretty easy to navigate this one just follow the horseshit. This trail is easy going with only a 500ft. elevation change over the course of the 2 miles. This trail will bring you up and personal with the rock-face, giving you the ability to check them out from above and below. I saw lots of squirrels in the rocks on this trail. If you are planning on taking pictures of them be ready, these guys are fast every time I tried to snap a picture, they were gone before I could press the shutter. If squirrel Olympics existed, they would win gold hands down.
Toward the end of the Foot Trail you will enter a beautiful wild grass meadow with a couple of burnt trees. When you turn east and are parallel with the 14 freeway, you will come across a trail split. This will be the Pacific Crest Trail. Going left will be the direct route back to the parking lot. If you go right it will take you into the gorge and truly see the beauty of Vasquez. The trail fowollows a creek. There are about 3 times in which you will have to rock hop across the creek but it is worth it. There are crows nesting high in the rock face swooping down to catch prey (this is probably why the squirrels are so fast) Large overhang areas where you could imagine outlaws making camp for the night. 2.3 miles in you will come across another split, again no signs just trails. Going left on the Equestrian Trail will take you back to the parking lot. Going right will take under the 14 freeway via a tunnel and on to Mexico. Yes I said Mexico! The Pacific Crest Trail travels the 2,600 miles from Mexico to Canada. I hope you check out Vasquez Rocks and remember to be safe.
25 million years ago, Mastodons and Dog-Bears roamed Agua Dulce. In that same era, the tectonic belts along the coast of California started moving rapidly creating the San Andreas Fault. A large earthquake from this fault created the formations of sandstone, siltstone, and volcanic rocks that we call Vasquez Rocks. 450 AD The Tataviam “people facing the sun” Indians called this place home. With there unusual Clicking sound dialect, they built dome shaped homes, gathered acorns and hunted deer and rabbits. There social system was a little different that the others tribes, they didn’t have one central chief that made and enforced the law. Tataviam, if their oral argument skills were good, could persuade the others to see it their way. Or a Tataviam could just impose self-banishment and leave the tribe.
Vasquez Rocks got it's name from one of California’s most colorful bandits Tiburcio Vasquez. This is the place his gang would bring stolen horses and also where they would hideout when the law was looking for him. Born in Monterey, California on August 11, 1835 he grew up during the Mexican-American war, which ended with the United States gaining the California Territories. Watching his father struggle to compete with Anglo farmers from the east, Vasquez became bitter towards these new Californians. At the age of 19 he commented him first known crime. Vasquez and a friend were accused of killing a local constable in a bar fight. In 1857 he was sent to San Quentin on a 5-year stretch for stealing horses in Los Angeles.
He escaped twice but was quickly caught each time. In 1863 Vasquez was released from prison but that didn’t last long. In 1867 Vasquez was sent back to San Quentin for 3 years. Within a year of release he is accused of killing a butcher in Santa Clara. 1873 he is at his peak of stealing, Once while Vasquez and his gang were robbing a packed salon they stayed for 90 minutes to drink and take the last valuables in the place. There was one time where a posse was chasing him and he actually stopped to rob some people on the road, before continuing his escape.
After a 23-year career Tiburcio Vasquez paid for his crimes. While standing at the gallows looking at his satin lined casket he commented, “I can sleep here forever very well” 1875 Tiburcio Vasquez bandit, gun fighter and womanizer is dead.
Vasquez Rocks is a popular location for television and film. Television shows such as The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Wild Wild West, Star Trek, The Fugitive, The Six Million Dollar Man, Battlestar Galactica, and MacGyver. And I know you remember some of the scenes from movies such as Blazing Saddles, The Flintstones, Very Bad Things, Planet of the Apes, Rat Race, and even Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Today Vasquez Rocks is a Los Angeles County park.