Los Vaqueros Watershed
False Spring and a trip to a Reservoir in The Livermore Hills
Since we were experiencing False Spring (those two weeks of nice weather before Winter weather comes back) in our little slice of Heaven in California, the husband and I decided to go visit somewhere new. He had recently been working in the hills of Livermore and had spotted a reservoir. That reservoir turned out to be Los Vaqueros Watershed. The name is derived from the original land grant called Canada de Los Vaqueros, or Valley of the Cowboys. We packed a lunch and headed out.
The drive was nice. Our hills which spend most of the year cloaked in golden brown are very green this time of year and can be breathtakingly beautiful with the wildflowers that adorn them. It was a Sunday so traffic wasn’t too bad, but the drive is on what can be a very commute busy Vasco road. When we turned onto Los Vaqueros Road, which turned out to take us to South Entrance, the green hills and the mountains behind were wonderful scenery.
The South Entrance on Los Vaqueros Road takes you to the Marina and the Marina Store. It was actually a little cold and windy so the marina itself was closed, but the store was still open. On the drive to the marina, there were several outhouse-type bathrooms and the marina had clean well kept bathrooms.
I did not go into the store but we sat outside and ate our sandwiches, enjoying the view.
Los Vaqueros does not permit personal watercraft of any kind on the reservoir. No boats, float tubes, canoes, kayaks, or any other type of watercraft. They do rent electric and pontoon boats. Since it was windy, though, no boats were rentable. As with the watercraft, they do not permit swimming or wading either, with no body contact with the water. Not the place to go swimming.
Fishing and Hiking
Fishing and hiking is the thing to do at Los Vaqueros. There are multi-use trails that you can bike and ride your horses on as well. The fish opportunities include Trout, Large Mouth Bass, Striped Bass, Channel Catfish, Sun Fish, and Carp. They do have restrictions on bait and you need a license. All are available at the Marina store. Hiking trails are quite diverse, from easy to challenging, and can be found at both entrances. They did have picnic tables and BBQ available so after a full day of fishing and hiking you can have your lunch or dinner before heading out. The Park closes at 5 during winter hours and varies throughout the rest of the year.
The North entrance was a bit different. It is located off of Camino Diablo (The Devil’s Highway). There was no marina and no store. There were picnic benches and you were very close to the backside of the Dam. They were an interpretive center manned by a likable fellow named Trinidad. The Interpretative center was nice, but I think because of wintertime, most of the interactive displays were not working. I did learn about the dam itself though. The reservoir can store up to 160,000 acre-feet of water and is a 192-foot high earthen dam. I also learned about the Native Americans that populated the area at one time.
Critters In Them There Hills
Lots of trails head there including one that is Interpretive, meaning plaques and signage to tell you what you are looking at. There are animals to be seen. Some are easier to find than others. There are Mountain Lions, Bobcat, Coyote, Skunk, Raccoon, and Rattlesnakes. Sensitive species include the Alameda Whip Snake, California Red-Legged Frog, California Tiger Salamander, San Joaquin Kit fox, and Golden Eagle. Tarantulas and ticks are abundant. Not that I saw anything other than birds. It was too cold.
At the North Entrance was also this very cool Bicycle Repair Station. It just was a box with a sign announcing it was a Bike Repair Center. Of course, we opened it. It turned out to be a project from an Eagle Scout. The signage said to take a tube to replace a tube. Very nice.
Kellog Creek Recreational Area
Unless your child likes fishing and hiking, it was not a place for the kids to splash and play around. There were very few areas to do other activities. On the way into North Gate, there was a park area that had a large grass area called the Kellogg Creek Recreational Area. That looked nice, but we didn’t stop and check it out.
All in all, it was a nice place and somewhere we might go back to when it is not so windy and cold. Our False Spring ended that day. We will have to wait to go back. Los Vaqueros was a nice place to fish and hike. I want to go back and rent a boat. Not to fish (I will though), but to go to the places you can’t hike to and see them if only from the water.