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Nortonville and Black Diamond Loop is a 5.7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Antioch, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 5.7 mi Elevation gain 1,374 ft Route type Loop

Dog friendly

Hiking

Horseback riding

Mountain biking

Bird watching

Running

Cave

Views

Wildlife

Historic site

Fee

Description
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Getting There

Note: This parking lot is currently closed due to COVID-19. However, the lower parking lot at Sydney Flat is open and you can walk the extra distance to the trailhead from there. Once a booming coal mining area, the hills are now quiet and peaceful. Yet, they still offer a glimpse into the past mining history. Five coal mining towns once occupied the Black Diamond area from the 1860s until the early 1900s, the most famous being Nortonville and Somersville. Almost four million tons of coal were removed before coal mining stopped and sand mining began by the Hazel-Atlas glass company. Part of these underground mines are still accessible via guided interpretive tours. This route takes you through the heart of the Black Diamond Mines historic area, and offers panoramic views of the surrounding hills and delta. As you initially ascend the ridge, you will pass the Rose Hill Cemetery, which is a grim but fascinating reminder of the town of Nortonville and the challenging lives its citizens lived. Past the graveyard, you will come to a lookout point that offers the first of many panoramic views. Later, descending the Black Diamond Trail, colorful sandstone rock walls tower above the scattered oak woodland. As you make your way down Black Diamond Way keep your eyes open for the giant Coulter Pines, and see if you can find “Jim’s Place”, where the “door” is always open! A little further up Black Diamond Trail is a small side trip to the Air Shaft. Make a right on Cumberland Trail, go about 100 yards and it’s on your left. Turn around and return to Black Diamond Trail to continue uphill on main route. Enjoy other beautiful views and rock formations on the rest of the hike. Park at the parking lot .8 miles up the road from the Visitor Center. Walk up the trail, past the restrooms, and continue straight and slightly to the right onto Nortonville Trail. Follow the trail posts, staying on Nortonville Trail as it begins to climb towards Rose Hill Cemetery. You may wish to explore the cemetery or bypass it by staying on the main trail. Once past the cemetery, continue uphill and over the ridge, and drop down into Nortonville. Stay left on the trail straight into Coal Canyon and head up the single track trail, straight ahead at the base of the canyon. At the top past Jim’s Place make a left on the paved Black Diamond Trail. Continue uphill until you reach a closed Park Gate. Take the left just before the Gate on a dirt road which is Black Diamond Trail. Continue on this all the way back to the ridge above the cemetery and make a right at the fork onto Nortonville Trail and retrace your steps down past the cemetery, descending back to the parking lot where you began. Fees: $5 Seasonal, weekends and holidays, $4 per trailered vehicle, $2 per dog

Park Hours: Dawn to dusk. Sidney Flat Visitor Center: 10am to 4:30pm Fees: $5 Seasonal, weekends and holidays, $4 per trailered vehicle, $2 per dog Website: ebparks.org/parks/black_diamond

From Oakland - Take CA-13 N./Warren Fwy, CA-24 E., I-680 N., CA-242 N. and CA-4 E. to Auto Center Dr./Somersville Rd. in Antioch. Take the Auto Center Dr./Somersville Rd. exit from CA-4 E. Turn right onto Auto Center Dr./Somersville Rd., continue to follow Somersville Rd., destination will be on the right. From Livermore - Follow North Vasco Rd. and CA-4 to Auto Center Dr. in Antioch. Take exit 24-26 from CA-4. Drive 3.7 miles to Somersville Staging Area.

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Reviews (183)
Photos (637)
Recordings (173)
Completed (330)
Kevin Freisen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 11 2020
Hiking

A great open trail through some of California’s coal mining history. Old town sites, graveyard, mining slag areas. Lots of shade through most of the trail. Wide and well maintained. Beautiful views of the delta, Valley, and the towns along the delta. I would recommend an early morning hike in the summer. I had a nice breeze through the hike. Look forward to a call and winter hike. Definitely could be tarantula activity in the fall. I saw a few lizards, no sign of rattle snakes, but definitely a habitat for them. Plenty of good ascents, if you take the northwest fork, it’s more uphill at first, then coming down the back loop is more down hill. At this time you have to park a mile below the trail head, so add 2 miles to your hike. Lots of options for shorter and longer hikes as well. Lots of blue oak, valley oak, and as you climb higher, pines and manzanita.

Burpeecat C.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jun 28 2020
HikingNo shade
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Alan LeClair
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon May 25 2020
No shade

This is a great hike. However the parking lot at the trailhead is closed for Covid. You can park at the lot below but it's important to know this is almost a mile away, so it will add about 2 miles to your hike. There is not much shade so wear your hot weather gear like long sleeves and pants. We hiked this mid May and should have had long gear. Not sure about other's trouble finding the caves. We found at least three caves on our counter clockwise hike! Really cool!

Gabriela Martiniuc
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon May 18 2020
Hiking

Awesome trail! It rained at the top which added to the exhilarating experience!! Nice elevation too for a great leg workout!

Alena Sazonova
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Apr 25 2020
Hiking

One of my favorite hikes ever! Awesome views, beautiful nature, great elevation gain which makes you sweat.

Scot Sinclair
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri Apr 17 2020
Hiking

Beautiful, green hike in the mid spring. The upper parking lot was closed, the lower one open. Definitely on the lower, moderate level of difficulty. Cemetery very interesting as well as the descriptive markers along the trails. Quite a few people in the first mile of the hike, and after that only a few.

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Trinity Sines
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Apr 02 2020
HikingRocky
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Lynne Vb
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Mar 22 2020
HikingNo shadeOff trailRocky

Great trail on an overcast day otherwise bring sunscreen. Dog on a leash are allowed. Entry fee of $5 but is currently being waived.

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Ashlyn Marquez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Mar 22 2020
Hiking

The parking lot was packed when I arrived at 2pm on Saturday. Once you got further into the trail there were very few people near.

Mike Rowinski
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Mar 21 2020
HikingNo shade

Great hike during cool mornings, wouldnt want to do in summer or hot days.

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Satbir Perdey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Feb 22 2020
HikingFee
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Eric Silveira
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Feb 16 2020
HikingBugsFeeRocky
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Elizabeth De La Torre
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Feb 01 2020
HikingBugs
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Teresa Baria
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jan 29 2020
Hiking

This was a gorgeous & challenging trail. The top of the trail has panoramic views of Antioch, Pittsburg, Concord, & Clayton. You can even see the snow atop the Sierras in the distance. We saw lots birds today but no other wildlife - except hundreds of goats grazing on the hillside (not really “wild”). The trail has such diversity of landscape - something for everyone. We took the Manhattan Canyon trail on the way down & I’m super happy we did. It was beautiful with Manzanita trees all around.

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Marie M.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jan 11 2020
Hiking

Definitely a great place to go for a day hike or a little history lesson. I had no idea this place existed, let alone used to be a coal mining town in the 1800’s. I did the black diamond loop trail. After the cemetery I took a right at the fork. Not sure which way is easier because it seemed as though both ways had an equal amount of inclines and declines. 6 miles round trip and it was definitely good workout. I’m Will definitely be back to actually explore the coal mining tunnels.

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Jason Marr
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Dec 23 2019
HikingMuddyRocky

Great hike, lot of wildlife. Just make sure you bring good boots since it gets muddy in the first section. Good time nonetheless with great weather.

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Kurt Seeberger
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Oct 15 2019
Hiking

Decent amount of shade and easy to stay on course.

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Stuart Forbes
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Oct 09 2019
Hiking

Fantastic hike with beautiful hills grassland and forest. History at every stop. Didn't make the visitors center, I think it's only open weekends. l will come back and explore more.

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Hakim Taylor
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Sep 12 2019
HikingRocky

Awesome Trail.

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Mike Owen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Aug 04 2019
Hiking

Great views from the top. The delta and the foothills. Enough shade plus some really steep sections. Good morning hike, best way to get in a few hours of exercise.

Marvin Gomez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 19 2019
HikingNo shadeRockyScramble
Michael Locatelli
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 13 2019
HikingNo shade

Glad I went first thing in the morning because it's supposed to be in the upper 90s today. Those hills are pretty brutal, but still fun.

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Barrett Shepherd
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jun 22 2019
Hiking

Fun hike! It’s a wide-open, old mining road, but still is pretty fun. If you’re taking the loop counter clock wise, hike the Manhattan Canyon Trail back to where you started. It cuts the hike a little short, but it’s more interesting and avoids back-tracking. Definitely wouldn’t recommend in the heat of summer; best times to go would be spring and fall, maybe even winter.

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