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Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

The Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is a 932 acre park located in northern Los Angeles County. There are many ways to enjoy a visit to Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, but in this guide, I'm going to detail a 2-mile loop hike that passes many of the park's best sites. 

The Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is a 932 acre park located in northern Los Angeles County. The park is famous for it’s stunning rock formations that have been featured in countless movies, tv shows, and commercials (see all). The most famous is “Kirk’s Rock” which was showcased in several Star Trek episodes. There are many ways to enjoy a visit to Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, but in this guide, I’m going to detail a 2-mile loop hike that passes many of the park’s best sites.

Vasquez Rocks gets its name from Tiburcio Vasquez, a notorious California bandit that used these rocks to evade law enforcement in 1874.

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park


Directions And GPS Tracks:


Key Points:

  • Distance: 2.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 328 ft
  • Minimum Elevation: 2497 ft
  • Maximum Elevation: 2563 ft
  • Time: 1 hours
  • Difficulty: (1/5)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Permit Required: No
  • Parking: Free parking located in at the Vasquez Rocks Interpretive Center
  • Park Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m March to November, and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m November to March.
  • Interpretive Center Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 8:00am to 4:00 pm, closed Monday
  • Weather: This is the desert and it can be extremely hot and dry. Be extremely vigilant for flash floods as well.
  • Trail Condition: Wide, smooth, and sandy
  • Cell Phone Reception: Pretty good

Make sure to hike with the right gear. See my current hiking gear list. 


Hike Map And Elevation Profile:

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park


Fun Facts about Vasquez Rocks:

  1. The iconic uplifted formations of Vasquez Rocks were created some 25 million years ago by rapid erosion activity along the San Andreas Fault.
  2. Before the Spanish arrived to California, Tatavian and Shoshone peoples inhabited the area.
  3. In 1972, Vasquez rocks was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  4. The Pacific Crest Trail passes just to the east of Vasquez Rocks, and continues through the parking lot and near the visitor center.

Hike Description:

0.0 Miles- This hike will begin at the Vasquez Rocks Vasquez Rocks Interpretive Center. There is a lot to see and do here, so make sure to spend some time before or after this hike.

DSC06460As you can see in the photo below, you can pick up the trail just behind the visitor center, or follow along the dirt road leading from the parking lot. The dirt road leads directly to the Main Rocks area, but the trail in this guide will take you on the Nature Heritage Trail on your way to the main rocks.

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DSC06590

The Nature Heritage Trail begins by passing through the group campground, before arriving at a few historically important sites.

There is a lot to see and do at the Interpretive Center, so make sure to spend some time before or after this hike. 

0.2 Miles- My favorite site along the Nature Heritage Trail is the Tatavium Archeological Site, where you can see petroglyph pictographs and grinding bowls.

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

Continuing on the Nature Heritage Trail, you’ll see views of the Main Rocks area.

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

0.3 Miles- When you see the Main Rocks area, you’ll have a few options to explore the formations in view. For many visitors to the park, this is their final destination. For those wanting to complete a loop hike, catch and follow the dirt road on the northeast side of the Main Rocks.

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park
The main rocks up-close
Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park
On the dirt road

0.6 Miles- The dirt road near the main rocks ends when you see a dirt parking lot. From this point on, you’ll be on unmarked trails that can be a challenge to follow. From the dirt lot, find the use trail that heads southwest.

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park
Exploring the rocks
Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park
Use trail from the dirt lot

As you can see using the map and GPS track provided above, this next stretch of trail crosses some of the most dramatic rock formations in the park. The best part about it is that there are very few people here.

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area ParkHiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

The formations here at Vasquez Rocks just begs for hikers to leave the trail for more exploration. This short hike can easily last a half day if you’re one that likes to climb.

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area ParkHiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

1.2 Miles- The trail starts to look a little more developed here, and you can follow it along the rock formations. You’ll have a short uphill climb that returns you into the main section of the park.

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park
Developed trail

Hiking Around Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

1.5 Miles- You’ve completed the lollipop loop hike and are now back to the Nature Heritage Trail just before the Main Rocks area. You can take a left and head back to the parking lot, or spend more time at the Main Rocks formation.

I’m Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

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