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Nortonville and Black Diamond Loop

MODERATE 88 reviews

Nortonville and Black Diamond Loop is a 5.7 mile lightly 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.

Distance: 5.7 miles Elevation Gain: 1,374 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

bird watching

running

cave

views

wildlife

historic site

fee

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

Decent amount of shade and easy to stay on course.

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.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Awesome Trail.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
no shade
3 months ago

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.

hiking
3 months ago

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.

4 months ago

Good spring time hike. Not a lot of shade. Trail was fairly quiet without much traffic from other hikers. Featured a couple nice lookout points. Bathroom only at the beginning of the trail.

hiking
4 months ago

Awesome hike, coming into majestic cow grazing on the land. We when off towards the historical cemetery, where we saw 7 wild turkeys. Than going into Nortonvillee, finding Jims place a Cave just off the trail. Than we went to the airshaft where got a rare sighting of 2 magical pigs inside the Cave or airshaft, that was awesome! We finished this hike with the coal mining tour. Real magic in this old abandoned mining town.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike good elevation for a 6 mile hike. Good views and plenty of birds to enjoy.

hiking
5 months ago

A fantastic loop trail with stunning views and a wide variety of wildflowers.

hiking
off trail
rocky
6 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike! Loved it, will do it again..

An excellent hike! Start early otherwise prepare for very little shade. Some steep parts but over all a nice challenging hike, and some great views at the top!

loop trail located near Antioch, California that offers the chance to see wildlife. The trail is rated as difficult and offers a number of activity options. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

9 months ago

This is one of the better trails in the park. Although it’s under six miles, it is a strenuous hike, with lots of steep grades.

9 months ago

With help of this app trail was easy to navigate..

9 months ago

It’s been a long time since I hiked there but it was a favorite when we lived in Antioch.

bird watching
9 months ago

Nice local trail. Not too many people, very cool single-track trails rimmed with Manzanita trees. Lots of birds, Redtail hawks, a Harrier and lots of Acorn Woodpeckers. The hills are turning green, nice hike close to home.

10 months ago

10 months ago

this trail is one of my regulars. absolutely love anytime of the year and there's never really anyone else on the trail once you get past the cemetery.

hiking
Sunday, October 14, 2018

I only hike once a week and I felt this hike should be rated as moderate instead of hard. It starts of with several inclines for the first 2 miles after that it’s pretty easy. What I like about the hike is there are 2 caves you get to see on the way, as well as an amazing panoramic view of the city that no photo can explain. The trail does get narrow at times. Can be difficult for pets and young kids.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Great hike!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Good place

hiking
Monday, September 10, 2018

What can I say about this hike? Amazing views, history and elevation galore! Will do it again!

hiking
Friday, August 17, 2018

This was a pretty good workout!! I was planning on doing this alone, but glad I didn’t. There were3 gates that had to be hopped over in order to follow the route. It always makes me wonder if I’m doing something I shouldn’t. There was not as much for views as I was hoping. Lots of cows to look at adjacent to Black Diamond Way. I think there are probably better hikes to take. I gave it 3 stars for lack of a true trail because of the gates and the lack of scenery.

hiking
Monday, May 28, 2018

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