At the eastern fringe of the San Francisco Bay Region, Mount Diablo, elevation 3,849 feet, stands alone on the edge of California’s great Central Valley. At this point, the Coast Range consists only of low hills, none high enough to block the view from the upper slopes of the mountain. As a result, the view is spectacular. Many visitors to Mount Diablo head straight for the summit to enjoy the famous view. Summer days are sometimes hazy, and the best viewing is often on the day after a winter storm. Then, you can look to the west, beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, to the Farallon Islands; southeast to the James Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton at 4,213 feet elevation; south to Mount Loma Prieta in the Santa Cruz Mountains at 3,791 feet elevation; north to Mount Saint Helena in the Coast Range at 4,344 feet, and still farther north to Mount Lassen in the Cascades at 10,466 feet. North and east of Mount Diablo, the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers meet to form the twisting waterways of the Delta. To the east beyond California’s great Central Valley, the crest of the Sierra Nevada seems to float in space. With binoculars, you may even be able to pick out Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Mount Diablo State Park is one of the ecological treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area. Every season in the park has its special qualities. Discover for yourself the mountain's beautiful wildflowers, its extensive trail system, fascinating wildlife and distinctive rock formations. View the stars from its lofty heights, bike ride to its 3,849 foot summit or explore the more remote trails by horseback. The park offers hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping. Dogs must be on a leash under your control at all times. Dogs are not allowed on trails. Dogs must be in a tent, camper or enclosed vehicle during the night. Gates open 8am and close at sunset. Visitors should plan to be in their vehicles by sunset and headed out to avoid being locked in.
Great trail however the trailhead and starting point are not clear. Read above comments for best directions.
Plan more time than expected. I accidentally ended up hiking a portion of the trail in the dark. I was prepared with a headlamp however because of the nature of the trailhead not being clear it could be easy to get turned around. Near rock city there is a huge network of social trails, just be aware and take a gps point of where you parked your car.
Incredible views and beautiful around to rock city!! Great diversity of ecosystems and terrain. Awesome summit.
Great hike! I went there with my two boys (6 and 4 years old). They enjoyed the hike up and down, as well as through the valley. Scenery was beautiful. Kids were happy to see cows and horses. We also heard a woodpecker (wish we could find it) and saw floating dandelion seeds. It was a bit stretching for our 4-year-old but with a lot of encouragement and snack breaks, he managed to finish it all by himself.
My friend and I have been going on a lot of hikes recently, which had some strenuous bits, but we’ve been looking for something that’ll really put our young, fit, healthy bodies to the test, and this was it!
We left San Francisco around 11:15am and arrived at the bottom of the mountain around 12:30pm, only to find out that we were on the completely wrong side of the mountain... It was about a 35 minutes drive around the mountain until we found ourselves at the visitor centre. We payed the entrance fee and started preparing for the long journey ahead. We put on our athletics shorts, overly long socks, matching Merrel shoes, and leathered sunscreen all over our bodies. I got my hiking tank top on, while my friend put on his drift shirt. I made sure my ponytail was nice and tight, while my friend put on the headband around his head. We we ready, and in typical fashion, started our hike at 1:30pm: prime heat time.
The first 30 minutes on the hike was on completely flat ground and kind of acted as a warm up (literally) for the trip ahead. Anxiety kept building up as we knew that we’d have to climb more than 3000 feet over 14 miles, but the climb still has not yet started. After about 30-45 minutes, the ascension began by which point we were already very warmed up.
It’s a relatively long and steady, but not very steep, climb that lasts more than an hour. We took regular breaks in the shade, kept ourselves hydrated and enjoyed the views as our elevation steady increased. We made a note that we should have brought extra sunscreen with us.
At about 3000 feet we found a campground where people drive to for car camping. Here you could refill on water, go to the restroom, and even take a shower! The facilities seemed relatively new and are very well maintained. This was a good place to take a break and enjoy the views because it was followed by a very difficult 600 foot climb to the peak. By this point we were already pretty fatigued and just wanted to get to the top. As we climbed in silence, my friend and I both dreamt of an ice cold pepsi, full of sugary goodness. Our blood sugar levels were definitely dropping and we weren’t drinking enough because I could taste the salt in my sweat.
The very peak had beautiful well deserved views, benches to sit on, shade to rest in, a restroom to freshen up in as well as water to refuel on. There was even a pokegym we managed to own for a mere 2 hours before someone else took it over. We ate our granola bars and relaxed for about half an hour before proceeding. It was so hot we were able to have our shirts dry off under the steaming summer sun.
The road down was even more difficult, to some degree, than the road up. It was hard on the knees, quads and shins. Most of the road was composed of gravel and winded either up or down with very little flat stretches. Our steps were small so as not to fall, and we had to take them one at a time. Ultimately, it took us longer to come down than it was to get up.
About an hour after we started our descend we faced a bit of a surprise: we started climbing up again. By this point we had already soaked in a lot of sun, were relatively tired and just wanted to get back to the car. However, it turns out that the trail wanted us to climb back up another 500-1000 feet so we could look around from Eagle Peak as well. I had already mentally decided that the climbing was done, so this part really got on my nerves. I powered through it and tried to get to the top as fast as possible. I would say this was the most difficult part of the hike because of the mental state that I was in at this point.
From here, it was a very slow and steep 2 hour decline back to the car. Luckily, we got to see the sun set and enjoyed some amazing views as all the helms started casting shadows. The golden gas was lit by the setting sun, and I would say that it was worth it.
When we reached the car, we could’ve have been happier. We were exhausted and just couldn’t wait to get home. Drank some water, took off the stinky hiking shoes and started riving to the nearest mcdonalds for a well deserved pepsi.
On the way we saw a popeyes and with no hesitance change our plans in favor of an 8 piece chicken meal with a pop drink. They ran out of coke/pepsi, but coke zero still satisfied my craving. I can also say with confidence that deep fried chicken had never tasted so good.
Definitely was a nice hike. Was in the middle of easy to moderate. I think it would have been more enjoyable if we did it in the fall so it was more plush and water was present. There is a lot of poison oak so be careful when it's it season on the second half of the hike. Also, keep a look out for the nice big velvateen tarantulas.
So many spots to start. Great view! Going up to the summit great with shade over the trails so you won't get that hot. When u reached the topped, it is just a very beautiful scenic! You could see buildings of SAN Fran and the Golden Gate Bridge from a distant. Make sure bring snack and water, but don't make the bag too heavy. Your calfs or back of your thighs(hamstrings) will burn(fatigue/tiring) when you first start but you will get used to it. Other than that! Go on it! Get to the top! Enjoy the 3,810feet elevation view and see everything!
Allen T. on Eagle Peak Loop
After doing this loop a few times, my preference is doing the trail in reverse from what is recommended. The ascent up mitchell rock / eagle peak might might be harder, but I prefer it to the rocky steep descent.
Parking is $6 per car, you pay just before entering at a kiosk. Restrooms and a visitor center are available at the trailhead. The parking lot opens at 8 A.M and is accessible until sunset.
Unfortunately, my father and I didn't pick the best day to undertake this trail. There was a race (~25-30 runners) that required us to frequently step off the trail. It was tough to get into a rhythm heading up, which made this trail more difficult. We were able to get to the junction of North Peak/Mount Diablo in a bit over two hours.
The map on AllTrails calls for you to summit Mount Diablo. I decided that North Peak was a better option; Mount Diablo's summit is basically a parking lot, whereas North Peak attracts exponentially less hikers. The only downside is that there are multiple radio towers at the top of North Peak, so you can't fully enjoy the summit. Eagle Peak is the only peak that offers a secluded view of Napa and the bay.
The trail up to Mitchell Rock and Eagle Peak is strenuous, and the remaining trail up to North Peak/Mount Diablo is calf-busting. The route my father and I took (Mitchell-Eagle-Junction-North Peak) had six miles of continuous, unrelenting uphill that will make even the fittest of hikers gasp for breath. The added hindrance of ~90 degree temperatures- and little shade- requires you to drink a lot of water.
Depending on which route you take, about 30% of the trail is on a fire road. The rest of the trail is narrow with terrain, ridges, and occasionally loose rocks. I highly recommend bringing hiking poles to aid you in these areas. Hiking shoes are a must.
Overall, this was a decent outing and I'd do it again. Be wary of the crowds and check for races/marathons ahead of time, especially if you're going on a Saturday. Additionally, check the weather- temperatures climbed as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit once we got back to the trailhead (1:00 PM.) Have fun!
Great hike in the winter or spring after some good rain. Not usually any water going in summer. Nice to get off the wide roadbeds and on single tracks for the falls, The 1st time I did it was with a friend whose natural hiking speed was faster than mine... It was more like trail running for me! It was good for me!
I've done it several times. Best to do in the spring since there is a lot of sunny open space. In the fall you have a chance to see a few tarantulas. One one of the hikes I was able to see a migration of lady bugs that were close to a foot deep on and around an old stump. Good views and a great workout...