Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
- Location: Agua Dulce, north of Santa Clarita and south of Palmdale, at 10700 West Esconido Canyon Road. From the 14 freeway, take the Agua Dulce Canyon Road exit. Head north (right if you are coming from Palmdale/Lancaster, left if from L.A.) and go 1.5 miles to where the road takes a sharp right turn and becomes Escondido Canyon. Look for the park in half a mile, on your right. Drive in and follow the dirt road half a mile to the main parking area.
- Agency: Vasquez Rocks Natural Area (phone: 661-268-0840)
- Distance: 2 miles
- Elevation gain: 150 feet
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: All year
- USGS Topo map: “Agua Dulce”
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: here
- Rating: 8
If you’ve driven on the 14 freeway between Palmdale and Valencia – or if you’ve seen the live-action Flintstones movie or “Star Trek” or any number of other TV shows – odds are you’ve seen the unusual Vasquez Rocks. Formed from the collision of two earthquake faults, the pink rocks are pushed up from the ground and rise as much as 150 feet. This park is a popular destination for geological sight-seeing, rock climbing, radio control car racing and more.
And, there just so happen to be a few hiking trails.
An interesting, mile-long section of the Pacific Crest Trail passes by the south end of the park, and makes a very enjoyable hike that can easily be extended. From the south end of the main parking area, follow the signs to the Pacific Crest Trail and take a right. The trail follows a ridge, where the rock formations can be seen on the right and Escondido Canyon and the freeway are on the left. Soon, the trail descends and heads off to the left (the Foot Trail continues straight ahead). This area becomes quite secluded; other than the noise from the freeway you would have no idea you were less than an hour’s drive from Los Angeles.
The P.C.T. winds through the canyon, passing by some more volcanic geology, and a wide variety of trees, including sycamores, willows and more. Soon, the trail arrives at a tunnel passing underneath the freeway, making a good turn-around point. Of course, you can continue along P.C.T. – all the way to Mexico – or take more time and explore some of the park’s other trails. However long you spend at Vasquez Rocks, you’re sure to find it an interesting, enjoyable and entertaining experience.