Place Name: Mount Diablo State Park
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 3,849 Feet
Prominence: 3,109 Feet
Elevation Gain: 5,565 Feet
Lists: SF Nifty-Ninety, California County High Point, Everest By The Bay
Nine Mile Hike To A Parking Lot
Mount Diablo has a paved road and large area on top for the hundreds of visitors per day to hang out, however, if you want to earn, there are many trails that can get you there. These trails vary in length and difficulty. The trail I’m reporting on covers a large loop over 5 peaks inside the state park.
- Amazing views
- Nice single track trail system
- Can combine with multiple peaks
- Crowded on summit
- Radio towers and buildings
- Last half mile along paved road
Growing up and living in the central valley of California, Mt. Diablo has always been a prominent feature on the skyline. In fact, I can remember climbing up on my swingset as a little boy and watching the sunset disappear behind it. With a large network of trails, multiple peaks, and thousands of feet of gain, Mount Diablo is a fantastic challenge. Mount Diablo is an imposing figure from California’s central valley. It towers over 3,800 feet above the valley floor and has neighbor peaks alongside. The trail system around this area is fantastic and should be given a hike.
Starting from Mitchell Canyon, the hiker is 586 feet of elevation and if the loop is completed, will cover of 5,000 feet of gain. This makes Mount Diablo a nice warm up or conditioning hike for larger sierra mountains. This entrance is in the town of Clayton. There is a $6 fee to park, bathrooms, and a small visitor center.
The loop I took would cover multiple peaks, Mount Olympia, North Peak, Mount Diablo, Eagle Peak, Twin Peaks, and Mitchell Rock. This route would cover 16 miles and take around 10 hours to complete.
While hiking in the Bay Area, unfortunately I’ve grown accustomed to hiking on dirt fire roads. Even though some of this hike is done on road, most of it follows very nice single track are very quiet.
After six miles, the first summit, Mount Olympia is reached. Although the views are nice on Olympia and its a great destination in itself, this was just the appetizer on this day. Olympia finds itself on the Nifty-90 List and Coastal Peak List.
The next objective is North Peak whose radio tower covered summit stands 600 feet higher. The trail over is a nice single track through some shaded areas, eventually topping out at North Peak Road. From here, a left takes you up the steep fire road to the summit.
Looking across Prospector’s Gap to the south lies Mount Diablo. From here you can see the stone building and lookout tower. After dropping back down the fire road, you start the loop around the Diablo and up the summit. At this point, you will start seeing many hikers and mountain bikers before reaching pavement. The last 1/2 mile or so follows the paved road to the top.
While views from the summit can be expansive on a clear day, valley haze ruled the day. One direction you can see San Francisco and the ocean. The other, you can see all the way down the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Enjoy the views, use the restroom, and garb a snack if the visitor center is open. At this point you have traveled 9 miles and still have 7 more back to the car.
Heading down, you will hike back down the same trail to Prospector’s Gap. Instead of heading towards North Peak, turning left and heading towards Bald Ridge and Eagle Peak are next on the agenda.
The single track trail takes you along a thick mountain side before opening up along Bald Ridge. After and intersection with a fire road, you will join the Eagle Peak Trail and follow it up that summit.
Eagle Peak & Twin Peaks
Eagle Peak looked very large at the beginning of the day, as you climb higher up, it started to look much smaller. At 2,369 feet, the summit has nice area to rest and great views of all of the terrain you have covered to this point. This was my favorite summit of the day. It also sits on the Nifty-90 and Coastal Peaks Lists.
After this summit, your fourth of the day, it’s all downhill! The next peak along the ridge is the 1,733-foot Twin Peaks which is signed right along the trail and makes for a quick stop.
Following the ridge, the last 3 miles meander around to Mitchell Rock. The last two miles we completed in the dark. Despite being easy, this section really seemed to linger on and on.
At the end of the day, this trail is great for bagging peaks and getting in shape. However, Sixteen miles and 5,500 feet of elevation gain is nothing to sneeze at. This hike will work you and give a good test of your fitness.