Rock City to the Summit of Mount Diablo

HARD 165 reviews
#6 of 62 trails in

Rock City to the Summit of Mount Diablo is a 7.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Danville, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
7.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,201 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no shade

no dogs

From Rock City hike up to the summit. This trial offers scenic views and breathtaking climbs. Although steep in sections, it is a great hike. This park is one of the ecological treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area. Many visitors to Mount Diablo head straight for the summit to enjoy the famous view. Summer days are sometimes hazy, and the best viewing is often on the day after a winter storm. Then, you can look to the west, beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, to the Farallon Islands; southeast to the James Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton at 4,213 feet elevation; south to Mount Loma Prieta in the Santa Cruz Mountains at 3,791 feet elevation, north to Mount Saint Helena in the Coast Range at 4,344 feet elevation, and still farther north to Mount Lassen in the Cascades at 10,466 feet. North and east of Mount Diablo the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers converge to form the twisting waterways of the Delta. To the east beyond Califomia's great central valley, the crest of the Sierra Nevada seems to float in space.

10 days ago

Great trail on the mountain I lived in the shadow of for 25 yrs. Several others that are better but still memorable. Best done in the spring ...

hiking
18 days ago

I lived in the bay area for over 10 years growing up, with Mt Diablo always looming over me, reminding me how small I truly am in this world. After moving away, i had to go back to conquer this beast, and she was well worth the trip! Stunning views, changing climates, the day I chose was misting for a good half of the hike, and the rest was up in the clouds above the rest of the earth. Unfortunately, there was a rather large parking lot greeting me at the top, but nothing could shake the accomplished feeling of defeating Mt Diablo. Onto the next challenge!

hiking
22 days ago

The trail hiking wasn’t too hard mission peak felt harder. What was harder was figuring out what was the trail in certain areas. Without AllTrails I would have been lost so many times!

2 months ago

Had a blast on the trail. It wasnt too hard and the trail is well marked and the people on the trail were friendly. Just be advised when you reach the summit you will be greeted by a parking lot full of non-hikers and tourists. Overall a good hike.

3 months ago

It was a great scenic view. you'll be awed by the various sizes of mountains, sky view, fog mingling among mountains, trees , landscapes etc.
I hike with my two daughters 8 and 10years old from Rock city parking lot to summit of Mount diablo. it took us 3.25hrs up and 2.5hrs back. it was a great hike. i'm proud of my girls!!. the only scray part was the stretch from a big water storage tank to devils spot was a single file hiking which any mistake could be disastrous. my recommendation at such spots are to have a firm gripping shoe and or a hiking stick or suffice like we did : have a normal sturdy tree branch stick we picked from the ground. at this spot it was kind of slippery during returning back so we had to bend a little to enforce our grip. I'm sure experienced hikers won't have a problem.
The kids in the end loved it all.
you'll need lots of water going up,(at least 3bottles each person) you'll be able to refill at the summit.
we saw a rattle snake which was basking itself in the sun. there was no need to panic. The kids got to play with sand also on the way. just being kids.
on arrival back at rock city, the kids had 5mins to enjoy the rocks , cause as you can imagine we were all spent.
I'm sure you'll all enjoy the hike.

hiking
3 months ago

NIce Hike,
Not to hard and just the right amount of uphill before heading back down. We did spend some time scoping out some of the other local trails.
Everything is nice and green still.
Uploaded tracks of 8.6 miles due to site seeing.

3 months ago

Great workout!

hiking
4 months ago

What is good about this trail: 1. Great views! This side is facing the Bay, so as you go higher (and especially on your way back) you'll see the Bay, Walnut Creek, Concord, Dublin/Livermore and other local towns. 2. Sun. It could be good or bad depending on the season. Makes it a great winter hike, but could be too hot for summer (then look at the East side tails). 3. Smooth trail and mild incline. Relatively gentle, not too hard. 4. Water and restrooms. 5. Educational posters along the way explaining the history and geology of this area. The not so good things: 1. Entrance fee. You need to pay to get there. 2. Limited parking (to compare there are trails from Clayton with more parking and no fees) 3. The trail follows the road so it could get noisy. Overall, it's a good half a day hike for anyone in reasonable shape, great for kids, just make sure the weather is not too hot and come reasonably early to get a parking spot.

hiking
4 months ago

Knocked this one out today in about 3.5 hours round trip. I will probably do it again, just wish there wasn’t a road all the way to the top that allowed tourist to just drive up. I may be old fashioned, but the best part of the hike should be the summit, and that is greatly diminished when everyone can just walk 50 feet from their car to the summit.
If you are more hardcore into hiking and camping. This one will probably just annoy you.

hiking
5 months ago

The first half of the trail is not very interesting when the wild flowers are not blooming. Most of the trails are lower in elevation therefore did not have a vista good view. The trail intersects with the summit road at least four times so watch out for traffics. Definitely got more interesting at the latter half close to the summit. A bit disappointing that it is so close to the road at many section if you are looking for tranquility.

5 months ago

Challenging for sure for us 50 somethings but well worth the effort

hiking
6 months ago

Rock City is so fun! What a great little area for picnic or just adventuring around! I never knew there was such a unique little spot so close to home!

This hike is beautiful in the winter when it's foggy. the whole time we were looking down on an ocean of white clouds. And it wasn't too hot in January. It was perfect hiking weather. There were also a lot of beautiful madrone and manzanita trees covered in green moss. Winter is definitely the time to go. I couldn't imagine the misery of hiking up to the summit it the summer. The hike was a good workout, especially the last 2 miles before reaching the summit. The first 2 miles are pretty mild, but gorgeous.

6 months ago

Great hike. Luckily the weather was very favorable. It was cloudy and cold. This hike can get very difficult in the sun as there is very less shade. We took 4 hours to complete the hike.

The trail markers are not very helpful for first time visitors. We started the hike near artist point with trail through time trail and then joined the summit trail. Most parts of the hike is on constant slope which makes it a bit strenuous. Recommend to carry lots of water. There are restrooms on the way.

hiking
6 months ago

Ok, not as long as expected (maybe the trail was closed off or I missed a turn to extend the hike) and the sights are covered in graffiti, it was unfortunate =\
Didn't feel it was worth the entrance fee when there are so many other choices.

hiking
8 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

This is a HARD trail, very little shade, and consistent inclined on the way up. Don't go on a hot day

hiking
11 months ago

Used to hiking in the PNW, so I'll be honest here: was no expecting the heat and lack of shade. It was a tough hike that did offer a nice (albeit brown) view of the surrounding landscape in 360. If you look closely you can see SF from the summit, though not as nice a view as the summit of Mt. Tam.

Warning: there are water spouts along the trail. Don't drink from any of them except the one at the summit in the parking lot.

hiking
Saturday, July 01, 2017

A lengthy and a moderate level hike. Not so crowded for a 4th of July weekend. Most of the trees and flowers were dried and it was not a scenic hike.

hiking
Friday, March 31, 2017

Try not to get yourself to tired at Rock city, before this hike, as it gets pretty steep in parts. "a trail through time" is nice but a little narrow do to poison oak. the mountain is covered with wild flowers and other blooms this year.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

If you park near rock city which that is where your GPS will take you, there isn't very much of a hike. The trail was more touristy, so expect alot of people. It was nice when you're alone and the trail veers off here and there. The main trail is the "trail through time" and is pretty much the main trail. There are some if you go opposite of Rock city. It's nice for a first time visit, but I probably won't be going again. And it's also in a state Park, so expect to pay $10 at the gate and a lot of bike riders on the road. Very much a main stream trail

hiking
Monday, February 06, 2017

One word: amazing! Took the Pittsburg trail up to the red rocky summit with a beautiful overlook. I am always near Mount Diablo and I will do this hike again.

hiking
Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rock city is awesome!!! Big rocks to climb everywhere! The hike up to the summit is a little hard but worth it when you get to the top. 360• view of the Bay Area

hiking
Monday, January 02, 2017

Rock City to Summit via Summit Trail. Hiked this with my 17-year-old son. It was great bonding time, and he was very patient with me. The trail is well maintained, which is nice. However, the trek up was tough for me. It took 3.5 hours to the Summit and 2 hours back down. I would rate it moderate plus some. There are virtually no switchbacks, so you are hiking uphill, albeit gradually, the entire way. Informational signs and center at top were interesting. Plenty of opportunity for bathrooms but no potable water sources between Rock City and the Summit, so come prepared and fill up when you can.

hiking
Monday, January 02, 2017

This was a challenging hike from the sandstone formations of Rock City up to the summit of Mount Diablo. This 9.5-mile double lollipop loop hike took 5 hours to complete. Much of the Rock City trail, Summit trail and Juniper trail are along the “Trail Through Time” with its interpretive signs describing 190 million years of geological history. At Rock City we hiked amongst the Wind Caves and climbed up Sentinel Rock before proceeding up the Summit trail. The summit is at 3,848 feet. When we were up there we had rain and it turned into snow. We returned on the Juniper trail passing Juniper Camp and back to the Summit trail.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Awesome.. great views at several points throughout, but the trek itself provides great memories should you go the entire way to the summit,

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Great trail however the trailhead and starting point are not clear. Read above comments for best directions.

Plan more time than expected. I accidentally ended up hiking a portion of the trail in the dark. I was prepared with a headlamp however because of the nature of the trailhead not being clear it could be easy to get turned around. Near rock city there is a huge network of social trails, just be aware and take a gps point of where you parked your car.

Incredible views and beautiful around to rock city!! Great diversity of ecosystems and terrain. Awesome summit.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Great hike. Glad we found it on this great Ap.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Get hot not much shade, if any. Drink lots of water. Had a picnic on the return. And loved every moment.

hiking
Monday, September 12, 2016

Did the trail today (Sep 2016). Its a moderate trail for seasoned folks. For beginners its a hard trail. Partly because sun beats down on you directly if you pick the climb in morning hours. The park opens late (8:00 AM) and that means you can't attempt the climb early in the morning. I think its better to start the trail in afternoon when sun is on the other side of the hills.

Trailhead and other trail information is sketchy at best. We didn’t buy the $6 parking map at the entrance so I am not sure how it would have helped but the map that comes with brochure (given at the gate when you pay $10 entry fees), and that is also available at the website, is of little help in figuring out Trails and trailheads. Many trails and loops adds to the confusion.

Bring water especially if you plan to start late. I drank 1.5 Ltrs during the trip (compare to 0.5 ltr for mission peak). You will have two bathrooms in the trail before you reach the secondary parking lot (read below).

Started at 8:20 and returned at 12:30. We took breaks at top and some other places.

Directions:
Park at rock city/Live oak campground which is right off the main road leading to summit. This place is ~1.5 miles from the southern entrance. The parking is small and is distributed between different parking lots/places. Plan to arrive early as we saw few people looking for parking when we came down. The summit trail starts at the Southern Gate entrance I think but there is no parking there. Park rangers will tell you to go to the Rock city to start the climb.

You can latch on the trail right at the parking lot or you can walk down to the main road and go a little way up to see two trails on your left. Take the right one. We couldn't locate the trailhead at parking lot and walked along the main road a little way up before we found the trailhead.

Trail crisscross with the main road couple of times and also runs closer to the main road for some part. Trail also merges with fire trails that are dusty.

Keep looking at the summit trail direction in trail signposts at each junction and keep climbing up. You will pass through a sitting area and cross the road before the real climb without shade starts. This part ends when you hit the main road again.
After that you hit flat paved road for sometimes before you climb a little more and reach what we assumed was a fork for upper/lower summit trail (we can be wrong). There is a large water storage facility here and one bathroom.

After this the climb is steep with single file walk. Keep climbing till you hit the road again. The trail doesn’t crosses the road this time but continues to right for slow downhill walk before the steep climb starts again. You end this stretch again at the main road at a scenic lookout point.

At the scenic lookout you are at the road and can see the summit center at top and a large tower far at left. A short steep climb again and you land back at the road again at the secondary parking lot below the summit center. The road to summit forks here with separate way to up and down. Hike a little up the road, cross to get into an area shade from small shrubs and tree. At this point you can continue via the road to the top too. You are very close. The small climb through the shade leads to a large comms tower and immediately after that the trail ends in the main parking lot at the summit center.

Pro-tips:
Be there at 8:00 if you plan to climb in AM. That way you can avoid too much sun on the way up.
Bring water but 2 ltrs of water one way is too much. You can refill at the top. 1 ltr one way should be good enough.
Wear hiking shoes. Trail is rough at many places with gravel and lose stones. Many places there is too much dirt.
Bring hats and sunscreen to avoid sun exposure

hiking
Thursday, August 11, 2016

Great hike. Very challenging, but very rewarding. Bring lots of water! I drank 2 litres on the way up. You can refill at the top.

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