Las Vacas Trail is an 8 mile long trail that runs from the San Gregorio Trailhead on FR 70 to Los Pinos Trail – Trail #46 near San Pedro Park.
Trail Conditions: Good
Damian Trail – Trail #436 to Penas Negras Trail – Trail #32
From the junction with the Damian Trail, pick up Las Vacas Trail on the west side of the meadow. It will quickly enter a small canyon following Clear Creek upstream. In this section, the small canyon narrows as the trail follows the stream on the east side remaining in good condition the entire way.
You will eventually reach a junction with the Lucero Trail – Trail #34. Go right to remain on Las Vacas. It climbs at first across some open slops and through a small draw before topping out on a thickly forested mesa. The trail is completely flat and largely perfectly straight for the next 1.5 miles.
About 1/2 mile before the junction with the Palomas Trail – Trail #50, it crosses a small meadow and then climbs back into the forest. Just before the junction with the Palomas Trail, you will cross the Rio de las Vacas.
From the junction with the following the Palomas Trail – Trail #50, turn left to follow the Rio de Las Vacas upstream. You will quickly reach another junction, this time with the Anastacio Trail – Trail #435. Stay right to continue to follow the Rio de las Vacas upstream along the low, grassy canyon.
The trail follows the Rio de las Vacas for about 1.5 miles staying on the left (west) side of the small valley the entire way. This section of trail perfectly encapsulates San Pedro’s understated beauty. Not nearly as gaudy as many other areas even compared to the Caldera or Cruces Basin, but there is plenty to fall in love with here as long as you take the time to appreciate this unique landscape.
San Gregorio Trailhead to the Lucero Trail – Trail #34
From the parking area, cross the dirt road to pick up Las Vacas Trail – Trail #51, which heads uphill into the dense spruce and fir forest that defines much of the San Pedro Parks area.
The first mile to San Gregorio Reservoir is wide and well traveled. Many people make this easy walk to the lake to fish, and it is even possible to find people carrying canoes or kayaks.
After winding through the forest over undulating hills, the trail pops out just north of the lake after 1 mile. The trail continues to the right (north), crosses Clear Creek, and then steers back into the forest. Be watchful here. There’s another trail that continues straight into the meadow, but the Vacas Trail goes right to continue north.
The next 3/4 miles to the junction with the Damian Trail – Trail #436 is easy to follow but there’s a significant amount of deadfall. In many places, social trails skirting these downed trees have been established, but others require going over or around the fallen trees.
Just after crossing Clear Creek again, you will reach a junction with the Damian Trail. Go left to stay on the Vacas Trail, which follows Clear Creek going upstream. In this section, the small canyon narrows as the trail follows the stream on the east side.
Again, there are a few downed trees here, although not as many as before. The trail is easy to follow as it climbs gently through the predominantly spruce forest. After about another mile, the trail passes a post that appears to be an old trail sign. Ignore this. The actual junction with the Lucero Trail – Trail #34 is a few hundred yards upstream.