Mitchell Creek to Diablo Summit

HARD 169 reviews
#3 of 48 trails in

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.

12.3 miles
3444 feet




mountain biking

nature trips

trail running



wild flowers


no dogs

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.

13 days ago

great trail. beautiful views, good elevation gain, amazing wild flower scents in spring.

21 days ago

Second half of two day overnighter. Incredible mountain. Challenging and Beautiful.

22 days ago

Day one hike to the summit overnight backpacking

1 month ago

Amazing trail, and do walk the trail clockwise! Also, remember to bring cash for the $6 parking fee. They require you to put exactly $6 cash into a envelope.

1 month ago

Awesome trail! Beautiful scenery, and great views from the top. Trail signs are bit confusing so read them closely.

1 month ago

Very hard hike. Do it only if you are in very good shape.
Doing the loop clockwise is the way to go.

2 months ago

Hike up to the summit then ran back down on thanksgiving morning. One of the best holidays I can remember!

3 months ago

Figure Eight Loop to the Summit and back. Excellent hike. Highly recommended!

3 months ago

Hiked it on Sat. Awesome hike. I was glad I read on a review here to go in clockwise direction. Only way to go, get the steep rocky single track done then have a mellow hike back on the fire roads. I’d have not enjoyed coming back down the rocky single track.
Was impressed by the diverse ecosystems on the mountain. Stop by the visitors center at trailhead and pick up free printed directions. I also bought the Hikers Guide book which was put together by volunteers who have extensive experience on the mountain. I’m excited to see how many hikes and trails there are at Diablo.
My only gripe is the parking lot doesn’t open till 8:00 which is a late start for long hikes.
Next time maybe the Five Peaks Trek. 14.5 miles, 6280 cumulative climb. Page 36 in guide book.

4 months ago

Was a great hike! But, the next time I will start earlier (started around noon this time). The kind volunteer at the visitor center warned me that I would be cutting it very close as sunset was 6:54 PM today (they have sunset info at the visitors center too, super helpful).
My climb on the Meridian Ridge got really tough, and had it not been for Brigitte and Chris (strangers, and fellow hikers who motivated me to continue) I may have quit amd turned back! Thanks guys!! Happy Anniversary again! :)
I finished at 7:52 after pretty much jogging the last 3.67 mi on Mitchell Canyon Road. It was way past sunset, but it was a starry night and I could see enough to find my way back. So, it wasn't too bad even though my powerbank/flash light gave out on me! I ran into a group of Boy Scouts from Walnut Creek who graciously lit up my way for the last 1/2 mile! Thank you Boy Scouts!!
Lessons learned - Start early! It's no fun hurrying down Deer Flat Road and Mitchell Canyon Road when you are exhausted! Even though the roads are as flat and stable underfoot as unpaved, fire roads can get.
Budget a lot of time for Back Creek Trail, even though it is very arduous, it has amazing views! So give yourself time to relax and take it all in.
There is a lot of Poison Oak on this trail, stay away! Brigitte educated me that the easiest way to recognize this plant is their leaves are in clusters of three and that they are one of the first to turn color (green to red) in fall. Every Poison Oak plant I saw had bright red leaves.
I didn't especially enjoy hiking alone, so bring a buddy along!
The Visitors Center up at the Summit closes at 4 PM. Get there before then of you are planning to buy a snack there.
Though they have restrooms at the Summit, and they are fairly clean, I think the restrooms at Juniper Campgrounds are cleaner and better, so you may want to use those.
Lastly, enjoy your time on the mountain! This was my first experience of hiking Mt. Diablo, and I have done only 2 hikes over 10 miles in the past, so this one was one tough mudder for me, but I am stoked that I persisted and got to the Summit, the sense of accomplishment you feel when you get back in the car is indescribable!

4 months ago

Portions of this trail are *very* steep. Who needs switchbacks anyways, right? But hey, you can buy cold drinks and snacks halfway through at the summit. Went clockwise - second half after Diablo summit is almost entirely on a fire road. Fun one! Great for backpacking training. Would not recommend for trail running due to the nature of the first half of the trail.

4 months ago

This was a brutal 6.5 hour hike, but totally worth the challenge. I'd recommend this route which I've tried yesterday when it was around 70-80 degrees and will try again (not recommended for ultra novice hikers, however, due to the steep/narrow/long trails):

Start from Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center --> Back Creek Trail --> Bald Ridge Trail (very narrow/steep path filled w/ poison oak) --> North Peak Trail --Summit Trail (top) --> (descending) Juniper Trail --> Deer Flat Road (immediately after the juniper camping ground) --> Mitchell Canyon Road.

Make sure to grab a free map of the trails at the Visitor Center before starting. There are many intersecting trails and it would be quite difficult without a map.

4 months ago

4 of us hiked it today including my 13 yr old son. 3 hr hike up got a lift down. 7.3 miles was a huge accomplishment, very proud of him.

5 months ago

I completed the summit hikes yesterday. It was below 80 degree and the weather was perfect for hiking. I went up on Back Creek Trail, which is a strenuous steep ascend. But the trail is pretty well maintained and easy to negotiate, comparing to Eagle Peak Trail. And the trail continued to Bald Ridge Trail and Summit Trail. The view at the summit was excellent. It was a bit crowded at the main parking lot. I went to the other side of the summit where there are plenty of picnic tables and a clean restroom with hardly any people. That is the perfect place for a picnic after the thigh busting hike.

I took the Juniper Trail, Deer Flat Creek Road and Mitchell Canyon Road back to the Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center. This is an easier route as it is fire road most of the way, and it is wide, smooth and not as steep. As a bonus, I saw two tarantulas along the way less than a mile from the Visitor Center.

This is one of the toughest hikes I've ever done. It's definitely worth it.

5 months ago

The hike is amazing but very exhausting. The feeling of having conquered the summit feels amazing. On the way down, mitchell creek is a gorgeous place to sit on a bench and do nothing but relax.

Let be break it up based on experience of hikers.

If you are a novice or an amateur hiker, then I strongly recommend hiking the Summit via Mitchell canyon road and descending the same way back. I DO NOT recommend hiking up or down via Eagle peek trail or bald ridge trail. These trails are poorly groomed, very narrow, lots of poison oak with snakes and tarantula and has a lot of loose gravel making hiking in any direction harder. If you still want to do it, then I recommend ascending via eagle peek trail and bald ridge trail. The loose gravel makes descending prone to ankle injuries and puts a lot of stress on your knee. Hiking down Mitchell creek trail is easy and fun.

If you are a pro hiker, then it does not matter what I think. Do whatever pleases you.

To all hikers, carry atleast 4-5 liters of water because there are no water spigots along the trail till you pretty much reach the summit. This is specifically true if you plan on taking eagle peek trail and bald ridge trail because it's more strenuous. Also consume lots of electrolytes and salts. There are water soluble electrolytes that you can just add to your water. I did not do a good job of consuming electrolytes and my legs started cramping which made my ascent much more difficult. Try to avoid days where peak temperature exceeds 95F. Start early (8AM if you can) beat the heat.

it's a great hike and the views at the top are fantastic.

6 months ago

This was such a great hike... but be warned: it is a difficult hike. Do not recommend this to a beginner. Avoid it on a hot day (that alone drained me!) and be prepared with the right shoes & lots of water. I must say, the feeling of accomplishment that comes from this hike is amazing.

6 months ago

If you go clockwise, the views of the hike till the summit are beautiful! I'd definitely recommend doing this trail but sincerely avoid the summer. We were more tired because the sun was burning down on us (we started at 9:45 am). The bad news is that there are handful of benches to rest on given the length of the hike, there weren't even enough rocks you could find to perch yourself on! Having said that, I can imagine how beautiful the views are when hiking this in spring! I'd definitely go again then :-)
Tip- Carry lots of water and snacks to munch on. The visitor center at the summit has beverages so that's a big plus!

8 months ago

Amazing hike! Be prepared as this is not an easy hike! Beautiful vistas. Best part of trail is the wrap around of the peak to Devil's elbow where you get the view of the south side and partial west side. Last part of ascent is taxing on the quads but the reward is the summit and the observation deck. It was a gusty day which was appreciated as it cooled us off. From Eagles Peak across Bald Ridge to Prospectors has a lot of bushes and trees to push through which make it more difficult and the up and down grades are challenging.

8 months ago

Harder than expected, and our GPS watch said 14.3 miles instead of 12.3.

- proximity to Bay Area
- strenuous

- loose ground
- bugs
- mostly unshaded
- scratchy shrubbery
- unrewarding - peak is easily accessible by car

8 months ago

The whole thing felt like an incline! 14 miles in 5 hrs, but that was with me running a portion. For a less strenuous hike take Mitchell Canyon to Juniper. Wear a hat and sunscreen cause it's in the sun the whole way. Great vistas which every way you choose.

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