Vaca Creek Trail is a multi-use trail that lies within the Stonehurst Heritage Land Trust, a protected area bounded by residential development. This short trail is a quiet refuge from the hustle and bustle of the area around Martinez, and is very dog-friendly. The mostly level dirt path follows the creek into the hills around the town, and its flora and fauna are closely related to the waterway's fresh water flow. Wildflowers and berry bushes cover the creek's banks and along the trail. The Himalayan Blackberry is an invasive plant that delivers a painful poke if you touch the stem near one of its small spikes, but it is also hung with abundant ripe, edible blackberries in the summer. Vinca major (periwinkle) thrives along the creek as well, forming a carpet of glossy green leaves and purplish-blue flowers.
The wide, dirt trail crosses the creek in a couple of places and is well-shaded by Bay Laurel Trees and large oaks, as well as Coastal Redwoods which shed a dappled light from their lofty height. It crosses through Stonehurst's wildlife refuge, and you may spot deer, raccoons and other mammals around the creek. Many species of birds have homes in Stonehurst's trees and rock walls, and their song and darting flight will accompany you and Fido as you stroll leisurely through the trees and grasses.
Parking for this trail is along Vaca Creek Road, and you won't find any restrooms, drinkable water or formal picnic areas, so be sure to carry water with you. The park rules also include packing out any rubbish or dog waste as it doesn't provide receptacles or waste bags. If you encounter cattle, and you may, don't disturb them or get between the cows and their calves, and shut any gates you may pass through.
This well-shaded, family-friendly little trail is one that you'll find yourself coming back to for short respites or for winding down your day. Woofderful!
Abundant poison oak grows along the Vaca Creek. Become familiar with its appearance and stay on the trail. If your pooch ventures into a thicket of it, try not to get the plant's oils on yourself until you can give the pup a bath. Also, protect your fur-baby's paws from sunny sections of the trail where prickly Puncture Vine grows.