MDIA Logo

Audio Tours of Mount Diablo
Experience an Audio Tour Here
ipod-touch
The tours feature lively interviews and music with the rush of wind and the chirps, howls, and growls of wildlife, all downloadable to an audio player.
___________________________________

Make a Difference and
Donate to MDIA

Donate

Donate Through PayPal

Donate Through MDIA's Vehicle Donation Program

Vehicle Donation

These are all great ways for you to support Mount Diablo State Park


Newsletter Sign Up
  1. First Name(*)
    Invalid Input
  2. Last Name(*)
    Invalid Input
  3. Email(*)
    Invalid Input
  4. Are you a real person?
    Invalid Input


View the Sitemap

Visit the Links page

Ten Demanding Hikes

Mt. Diablo State Park
Text by Frank Valle-Riestra

Here are ten hikes for the experienced hiker and outdoors person. Each one represents a physical challenge, but the ultimate purpose of inviting you to try them out is not to test your endurance nor to ask you to establish timing records, but to open up for your pleasure some of the hidden beauty spots on the mountain. Indeed. the length of the trails allows the exploration of areas far removed from access roads, and most of the suggested hikes are loop trips which are facilitated by the longer distances.

The Trail Map Mount Diablo State Park and the new Hikers Guide to Mount Diablo State Park are now available available here at the MDIA Online Store as well as other interesting publications and items related to Mount Diablo. The trail map is also available at either the North Gate or South Gate Entrance Stations, the Summit Visitor Center, and the Mitchell Canyon Visitor Centers.

There is no potable water on these trails, and you should carry drinks with you. Many of the trails are narrow and may not have been recently cleared, and you may run across poison oak. If you think you are susceptible, it is best to protect your limbs with appropriate clothing. Such protection also comes in handy in keeping away ticks. And keep in mind that in summer the mountain gets pretty hot in the sun, so carry some head gear. In all other seasons, carry at least a light jacket to ward off chill winds which can arise suddenly.

Trail Name Scenic
Views
Wild
Flowers
Riparian Flora Birds History Fauna Butterflies Geology Interest
Summit from Mitchell Canyon (Loop) X X X
Oyster Point from Curry Pt. X X X
Mt. Olympia via Middle Trail X X X
Wall Point -
Pine Canyon Loop
X X X
Pine Pond -
Frog Pond Loop
X X X
Burma Road Loop X X X X
Oyster Point via Riggs Canyon X X X
Grand Loop X X X
Mt. Olympia from Three Springs X X X


MITCHELL CANYON TO SUMMIT (LOOP)

Trailhead:
End of paved part of Mitchell Canyon Road, north entrance to park near the town of Clayton. Park in staging area (water and toilets) - parking fee.

Trail Statistics:
The suggested loop follows Mitchell Canyon Road to Deer Flat, Deer Flat Road to Juniper Campground, and Juniper Trail to the Lower Summit Parking Lot and finally along the uppermost leg of the Summit Trail. The summit itself is inside the Visitor Center rotunda, a short distance uphill. Return from the Lower Parking Lot along the Summit Trail to Devils Elbow, then to Prospectors Gap via North Peak Trail. to Murchio Gap via Bald Ridge Trail, down Back Creek Trail to the Coulter Pine Trail via the Bruce Lee Rd, at the base of the mountain, and back to the trail head. The loop is 13 miles long, and the total climb is 3200 feet.

Description:
This is the definitive Mt. Diablo hike - the total mountain experience. It encompasses all of the park's life zones, from meadow lands to rocky summit, and the ever-changing views are simply stunning. A major portion of the loop consists of intimate single-track trails, in close encounter with the wilderness - including some poison oak which invites a cautious eye. Make no mistake - this is a challenging hike, with some astoundingly steep stretches, but the result is exhilarating. In winter time the meadow trails can be very mucky.


OYSTER POINT FROM CURRY POINT

Trailhead:
Parking pull-out at Curry Point, South Gate Road. No facilities.

Trail Statistics:
Follow the Knobcone Point Road to the Black Hawk Ridge Road. Turn right onto this road, descend into Sycamore Canyon, and then climb again until you reach Oyster Point Trail. Follow this until it almost fades away and you'll come across a trail post; seemly in the middle of nowhere. Climb cross-country to reach the obvious Oyster Point summit (there is no trail). The round trip is about 8 miles, and the total climb is 1750 feet on up-and-down terrain.

Description:
This hike is not difficult, except for the last mad scramble up Oyster Point, around sandstone barricades and avoidable lush groves of poison oak. The summit is a Miocene sandstone hogback, where you may perch on a rocky throne of your choice to view the glorious panorama of San Ramon and the Bay Area beyond, and, in the opposite direction, the wilderness of Jackass Canyon far below. The scenery along the way to your destination is constantly changing and is a source of unending delight - meadow wildflowers in the spring, fall colors in the depths of Sycamore Canyon, and the fantastic Domengine sandstone formations to the east of Knobcone Point at any time.


MT. OLYMPIA LOOP VIA MIDDLE TRAIL

Trailhead:
From direction of Concord, drive through Clayton along Marsh Creek Road to Regency Woods. Turn on Regency Drive and continue to the dead end, with parking on the street beyond the last houses. Walk down to the trail below: the park gate is a short distance toward the mountain. No facilities. No Dogs..

Trail Statistics
Follow Donner Canyon Road to it's end and a short distance up Meridian Ridge Rd you'll find Middle Trail, which takes you to Prospectors Gap Road. Turn left and climb steeply to Prospectors Gap (a junction of several hiking paths), here follow the North Peak Road, then North Peak Trail to Mt. Olympia. Complete the loop down Olympia Road then west (left) Olympia Trail (avoiding private property), and finally down Clayton Oaks Road, returning to the previously traversed Donner Canyon Road and retracing your steps back to the trailhead. The complete loop is 8 miles, with a climb of 3,000 feet.

Description:
Mt. Olympia is one of the park's prime destinations, a rugged outcrop with fantastic views of dizzying canyons, particularly with the mists of winter. Middle Trail is a nature lover's delight, and the climb toward Prospectors Gap and descent from North Peak are - let us say - challenging.

Be sure to sign the log attached to the Mt. Olympia Summit trail post!


WALL POINT - PINE CANYON LOOP

Trailhead
Macedo Ranch Staging Area, at the end of Green Valley Road. Green Valley Road may be reached from Stone Valley Road (Alamo) or Diablo Road (Danville). (Both are freeway 680 exits.) Toilets, but no drinking water.

Trail Statistics:
The 9-mile loop follows Wall Point Road to its junction with the Summit Trail in Rock City, which is followed in turn up to the Barbecue Terrace Road. This then descends into Pine Canyon and eventually joins Stage Road. Dusty Road, on the left side of Stage Road, will take you across Pine Ridge back to the Wall Point Road and the trailhead. The total climb is 1300 feet.

Description:
Rolling meadow lands, oak savannas, fine views of the main peak, hogbacks and sandstone fantasy, riparian habitat and great birding - this pleasant day hike has everything.


PINE POND - FROG POND LOOP

Trailhead:
Parking pull-out at Curry Point, South Gate Road. No facilities.

Trail Statistics:
Start in a northwesterly direction along South Gate Road from the pull-out to the Summit Trail after the cross-walk. Just before the trail crosses the road again, make a sharp left onto Ridge View Ttrail, that climbs up to the crest and then descends to Wall Point Road. Go west until you reach a saddle before the climb to Wall Point itself - look out for Secret ttrail on the right that descends to Barbecue Terrace Road. Then take this road downhill (it eventually becomes Stage Road), and beyond Pine Pond carefully look for a trail on the right that crosses the creek - Sunset Trail. At this trail's northern end, turn right to get eventually onto Burma Road. Follow this all the way up to Deer Flat Road, and just before Juniper Campground take the Juniper Trail, Summit Trail, and Green Ranch Road to the site of the former Green Ranch. Continue your descend, with a side trip to Frog Pond. Return to trailhead via Frog Pond Road and Curry Canyon Roads. A total climb of 5500 feet and 17 miles of hiking await you!

Description:
This is a long, tough hike for expert map readers who have good instinct for following faint trails, and is an exhilarating scramble up and down the flanks of the mountain!


BURMA ROAD LOOP

Trailhead:
Not long after your car starts its climb on North Gate Road, you will note a distant ridge that comes in from the right to meet the winding road. After a particularly sharp curve, the highway rises steeply toward the ridge, access to which is provided by two bright aluminum gates on opposite sides of the road, just after the white 3.0 mile marker. Limited parking is available in front of the lower (western) gate or at a pullout just beyond. The trail starts at the upper (eastern) gate. No facilities.

Trail Statistics:
Follow Burma Road beyond Moses Rock Spring, then descend on Mothers Trail, which ends at Angel Kerley Road. This shortly joins Burma Road, which takes you back to the trailhead. A 4-mile loop, 1300-foot climb.

Description:
After a short but astoundingly steep climb, Burma Road (named for the World War II mountainous supply route) gradually traverses Long Ridge and crosses a broad band of serpentinite and peridotite with its weird rocks and stunted plants, a wildly barren stretch which contrasts with the lush grasses on the slumpy slopes. This is also a great birding area; rough-legged hawks, ash-throated flycatchers, horned larks. At Moses Rock, a biblical spring issues from a crevice. Scramble to the top of the rock and find a little rock throne from which to lord it over the encompassing domain of beauty.


OYSTER POINT VIA RIGGS CANYON

Trailhead:
On Morgan Territory Road heading toward Livermore, about four and-a-half miles from Marsh Creek Road junction, just 0.4 miles beyond the two narrow one-lane bridges. There is a old corral on the left side of the road, opposite the State Park pedestrian gate. There is a scant little space to park, but do not block the private driveway gate - it is used by inholders. No facilities.

Trail Statistics:
At the entrance, take the road that goes straight ahead, Morgan Creek Road. Continue up to Highland Ridge (the Trail Map is essential!). turn left, and then right onto Crestview Road, descending into Riggs Canyon along Amphitheater Trail and Old Finley Road. Take Oyster Point Trail at the Old Yellow House to the destination. Round trip is 11 miles, with a total climb of 1300 feet.

Description:
This is an exploration of some of the least visited parts of the park. Riggs Canyon is a mysterious Shangri-La, a deep valley of unspoiled wilderness, ringed by sandstone walls and weirdly eroded spires. The final climb to the OysterPoint ridge and its wonderful vistas is cross-country; watch out for poison oak. On the return trip, take a right on the Highland Ridge Trail and take the right-hand road back to the trailhead along the crest of grassy hills offering splendid distant views of Mt. Diablo.


GRAND LOOP

Trailhead:
Lower Summit Parking Lot. Facilities at Summit

Trail Statistics:
Start by descending the Summit Trail to Devils Elbow. For the complete loop, take left turns at each junction: North Peak Trail to Prospectors Gap, Bald Ridge Trail to Murchio Gap, Deer Flat Creek Trail, Meridian Ridge and then Deer Flat Roads to Juniper Campground, and back up on the Juniper Trail. 6 miles with a total climb of 1600 feet.

Description:
This is a circumambulation of the summit along some of the park's most attractive hidden trails. The North Peak Trail has fantastic displays of wildflowers in the spring, including the rarely seen wind poppies. The Bald Ridge Trail has a new surprise every few yards - a tiny rock garden, an unexpected vista, perhaps a sighting of the elusive California thrasher and an exploration of the geology and rare botany of serpentine soils and rocks. The Juniper Trail has its own set of rock gardens featuring tundra like stunted plants.


MT. OLYMPIA FROM THREE SPRINGS

Trailhead:
Wide pull-out on right side of Marsh Creek Road about two miles beyond Regency Drive in Clayton. There is an emergency call box with a big blue sign. No facilities.

Trail Statistics:
Start by finding the slightly hidden auto-gate and head up Sharkey Road. Turn right at first road junction and soon there after right onto Olympia Trail. The trail briefly joins an old road and at its end make a short left jog to locate the posted continuation of the Olympia Trail. Follow it until you reach the exhilerating East Trail, straight up to the summit! A stiff 2,000 ft climb in 2.5 miles!

Description:
This is arguably the steepest trail in the park. The first part is gentle enough, but things get a lot more challenging when you get to the flanks of Mt. Olympia - the total rise occurs in a little over a mile. There are many things to attract your attention on the way and to let you catch your breath - wildflowers well into summer, grotesquely eroded rock formations reminiscent of the American Southwest, the sequence of gradually expanding views. The climax view, of course, is from the summit itself.

Be sure to sign the log attached to the Mt. Olympia Summit trail post to memorialize your accomplishment!