Mitchell Creek to Diablo Summit is a 12.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Clayton, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from September until June.
This is a difficult yet rewarding hike to the summit of Mt. Diablo. Be prepared for lots of elevation change and hot temperatures. Begin at the Mitchell Canyon Staging Area. take Mitchell Canyon Trail to Meridian Ridge Trail to Juniper Trail to the Summit Trail. 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.
Great hike with amazing views. A very rock trail on the way down
such a lovely trail to be on... the soil is rich with history.
I enjoyed the hike but the payoff at the summit was disappointing mainly because there's a visitor center, accessible by road, at the top. Kind of takes away from the feeling of accomplishment after the climb when you're surrounded by a bunch of people on the summit who drove up. It was cloudy the day we went but I imagine the views are great on a clear day. I agree with other reviewer's comments about bringing layers because it can be cold and it's definitely a full day hike.
Definitely a difficult full day hike - get here early.
Note this route doesn't include going to the full peak. In actuality, it is about 14 miles total for the loop.
Great views on a clear day! Bring a jacket as can get cold.
it was cool
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.
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!
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...