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Donner Creek Loop Trail is a 5.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Clayton, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Length 5.1 mi Elevation gain 1,161 ft Route type Loop
Hiking Nature trips Walking Bird watching Running Views Waterfall Wild flowers Wildlife Muddy Fee No dogs
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Getting There

Please note that parking at the trailhead is for residents only and you may get a ticket. Paid parking is available at the nearby Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center for $6. Beautiful hike along creek, multiple cascades, mountain views. This loop trail is a great short hike that allows you to escape into the wilderness for a few hours. Donner Creek Falls consists of a series of four separate cascades falling off the peaks of Diablo. During the winter months and after a good rain, the waterfalls are rather impressive. From the parking area, walk along Donner Canyon Rd to Hetherington Loop (1.0 mi). After about 1.8 miles, turn left at the Cardinet Oaks Rd., and follow this road across Donner Creek and up a steep section to a junction with the Falls Trail on the right. This trail leads down to the falls on Donner Creek and continues on to the Middle Trail, which then loops back down to the Donner Canyon Rd.

Mt. Diablo State Park, (925) 837-2525

From I-680 in Walnut Creek (heading south), take the Treat Blvd. exit. Drive east for 1.0 miles to Bancroft Rd. Turn right and drive 1.2 miles to Ygnacio Rd. Turn left and drive 5.4 miles to Clayton Rd. Turn right and drive 2.9 miles to Regency Drive (Clayton turns into Marsh Creek Rd., but don't turn at the sign for Marsh Creek Rd.). Turn right on Regency Drive, and drive 0.6 miles to the end of the road. If heading north on I-680 in Walnut Creek, take Ygnacio Valley Rd exit, and drive east for 7.5 miles to Clayton Rd.

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Reviews (899)
Photos (2001)
Recordings (952)
Completed (2193)
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Arthur Jones
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Hiking
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William Taylor
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Hiking

Great hike. Went at the end of August at 1 PM. Big mistake. Not too shady and hot. Would do again in the morning.

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Sukhwinder Mann
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Hiking
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Chip Skate
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WalkingNo shade

Trail is hot . Little shade. No parking on city streets without residents permit. I left from Mitchell canyon and glad because of bathroom and water available

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Jennifer Stephenson
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HikingGreat!Rocky

This was definitely moderate+! Went super early this morning - only saw about 10 other people on trail. Definitely some difficult parts of the trail, but great scenery and lots of shade.

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Stacey Thompson-Golden
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HikingRocky

Great hike. Definitely not for beginners. Good hiking shoes are a must as the terrain is difficult at times and social distancing can be tricky when on single track. Gorgeous views!

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John Souza Jr
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Hiking

Hike is definitely worth the views. Enjoyable and doable. Trees provide a lot of shade if needed.

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leslie beacham
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HikingGreat!

Beautiful trail!!!! I would definitely go earlier in the summer months.

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Michelle Ramos
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HikingBugsRocky

It was a really beautiful trail but not for the faint of heart! You should be an experienced hiker to manage this!

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Lisa Scovill
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Hiking

Nice hike. We got there at about 8:30 in the morning, so it wasn’t too hot or busy. We parked in the legal street parking area about 1/2 mile from the trailhead since we’d heard the lot is closed. Varied fauna and some late blooming wildflowers were nice. There is plenty of shade just when you need it. When the loop begins, bear to the left. You’ll hike up some gravel and rocks that are much easier to deal with going up instead of down.

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J S
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Hiking

Early summer, hot and dry as expected. A lot of the loop is a walk on a wide, dusty road rather than a hike on a trail. Views are ok, trail conditions in spots were very slippery with scree, dust and loose gravel. The flora variability is cool to see. We’ll check it out in another season — the winter waterfalls and greener views are probably gorgeous.

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Chris Nguyen
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Hiking

Nice trail with some inclines. Hiked it many times in the spring. The daffodils are in bloom during this time. The waterfall is small and underwhelming, but overall, a nice hike.

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Yasmin Karimi
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Like most east bay hikes, the views are best in the winter/spring when the hills are green. There isn't a lot of shade, so start early and bring lots of water. Overall decent hike but I personally prefer Marin or Castle rock/Big basin to Mt. Diablo as they offer better views (including ocean/costal views) and more greenery.

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Tianhao Hou
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HikingMuddy
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Gilbert Maldonado
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Hiking

Good hike

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Chris L
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HikingBugsClosedOff trailRocky

Great hike. Main trailheads had parking restrictions so I parked in another neighborhood and made my way back via a fire road along the creek to Donner Trail to go up the waterfall loop. Pretty good climb up after an easy part of the hike up the valley along the creek. Great scenery with wildflowers, birds, and butterflies everywhere. Use some caution near the second and third falls that you can see from a distance. If you go off trail to get a better view of the falls there are a few spots where if you lost your footing you could have a real bad day and go off a cliff into the canyon. Cell reception was pretty good on most of the mountain but would fade out in some spots. Overall a great hike.

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Bella Minor
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Hiking

We hiked this trail today. Looking for parking was a pain but we finally found a spot. This was a great trail to hike. Quite a few turkeys roaming around. We bumped into a baby rattle snake on our way down. It gets hot quick so I would suggest to start early in the morning.

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Francine Coker
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HikingRocky

A little sketchy on the back side of the loop. We went clockwise on the loop so there seemed to be steep spots going down. The sun made the hilltops glow during dusk, beautiful!

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Courtney LeBlanc
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Hiking

Nice hike! Had to find new parking since it looks like most of it is blocked off right now. Nice hike, areas of shade, and a couple tricky areas but beautiful views, and wild flowers. Waterfalls are barely running now, probably will be dried up soon.

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Mary Alden
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Hiking

Incredible day to hike! It was so beautiful with lots of birds singing, turkey groups hanging out near the creek and even seen a Doe with her youngster! Lots of wildflowers though I’ve identified them all already on prior hikes, at the trailhead I found a new wildflower I have never seen before so what a highlight to the end of my hike! This is indeed the place to come to see amazing wildflowers.

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Melissa van Ruiten
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HikingOver grownRocky
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Mary Alden
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Hiking

Perfect day to hike! It was cool and cloudy which made it perfect for hiking. The streams were flowing from the recent rain which was so peaceful to hear. Many new wildflowers this week.

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Alan LeClair
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Beautiful waterfalls in the winter/spring. This is accurately labeled as a moderate hike, but there are a couple of sections that are technical and could be dangerous. I'm not sure I would bring young children or anyone not at least moderately experienced in hiking.

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Vel PortHolmZ
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Hiking

It’s very nice , I’m a beginner and it wasn’t hard at all . There are some steep areas other than that it’s a beautiful view at the top .

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