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Rock City to the Summit of Mount Diablo

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Mount Diablo State Park

Rock City to the Summit of Mount Diablo is a 7.6 mile heavily 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.

Length 7.6 mi Elevation gain 2,201 ft Route type Out & Back
Camping Hiking Nature trips Rock climbing Bird watching Running Views Wild flowers Wildlife Rocky No shade No dogs
Description
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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.

Mt. Diablo State Park Exploration http://www.kqed.org/quest/exploration/mt-diablo-state-park-exploration Mount Diablo Interpretive Association http://www.mdia.org/ Ron's Galls - Wasp Galls on California Oaks http://www.californiaoaks.org/ExtAssets/WaspGalls_RonRussoPoster.pdf Exploratorium: Faultline: Cookie Subduction http://www.exploratorium.edu/faultline/activezone/cookie.html Your Photos on QUEST: Randy Davis http://www.kqed.org/quest/television/your-photos-on-quest-randy-davis

Location-Directions The park may be accessed by vehicle from either the Danville area (Mount Diablo Scenic Boulevard) or the Walnut Creek area (North Gate Road). Highway 680 to Danville; take Diablo Road exit, then 3 miles east to Mount Diablo Scenic Blvd. Seasons/Climate/Recommended clothing Summers are generally hot and dry. The rainy season is generally from November through mid-March. Visitors in the winter occasionally experience a snowfall on the mountain peak. Telephone 925-837-2525 General park information 925-838-9225 For information on mountain weather conditions Operating Hours Gates open 8:00am and close at sunset. Visitors should plan to be in their vehicles by sunset and headed out to avoid being locked in. The Visitor Center will be open 7 days a week from 10 am to 4 pm. Summit Museum is open: Open 7 days a week 10 am to 4 pm. Mitchell Canyon Interpretive Center is open Weekends only and some holidays. Summer Hours 8:00am to 4:00pm Winter Hours 10:00am to 2:00pm Mailing Address Mount Diablo State Park 96 Mitchell Canyon Road Clayton CA 94517 Additional thanks go to Ken Lavin of The Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, Dr. Carol Tang and Dr. Peter Roopnarine of the California Academy of Sciences, and Judy Scotchmoor of the UC Berkeley Natural History Museums for their contributions to this piece.

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Reviews (228)
Photos (848)
Recordings (185)
Completed (981)
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Rachel Mundaden
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Hiking

So hot outside! But very rewarding to finish the summit climb!

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Alexis Reid
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HikingFeeGreat!No shade

Definitely difficult in the summer as it is super exposed (we went in August, about 95 degrees out) This trail would definitely be better to do in the cooler months, as the most difficult part to deal with is the heat. But the length is manageable and the views are beautiful. $10 fee for rock city entrance to park.

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Andrew Norton
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Was defanitely hard, rested often, but great views. Really good workout and reaching summit was satisfying. The trail is mostly exposed, so prepare for the sun!

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Tina Nguyen
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Hiking

It is not easy hike but it is pretty hike

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Nidhi Pulicherla
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HikingBugsFee
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Jean-Baptiste Loire
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Hiking

Beautiful trail. Stunning 360 deg views. Little shade so bring good amount of water. Good elevation gain but constant. Not as hard as expected. We saw almost no one on the trail. A must do.

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Steven Torrey
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I started (9;30 am) at Howe Homestead, Walnut Creek and worked my way to Briones Regional Trail arriving at Rock City by about 1;:30 pm. 11 miles. Had lunch/rest at Live Oak Camp area; took pictures. Left at about 3 pm taking the Dan Cook Trail (also called Green Valley Trail which is how it is labeled on trail markers.) Walking then on Stone Valley Rd. to Los Trampas Regional Trail to Danville. Arrived at bus stop by 8 pm. in time for bus back to Walnut Creek BART. 23 miles total hike. Very warm day, bring plenty of water!

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Terri Beam
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Hiking

Good elevation gain and lots of open scenery in every direction. I prefer more remote hiking-this route takes you across roads, on fire trails, and past several houses. It was 8 miles according to our devices.

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Michael Anderson
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Hiking

We hiked this trail on a cool, misty day and really enjoyed it. There are several leg- and lung- burning steep stretches of trail, but overall it wasn’t as brutal as I would have expected for a trail labeled as hard. We started early and saw deer all over the trail on the way up the mountain. There were a lot more hikers on the way down and all the deer were long gone. I’m not a hundred percent sure the distance on this trail is accurate. We hiked all the way up to the visitor center and back down and the GPS said we’d walked just over 11 miles.

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Ashley Macatangay
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HikingNo shade
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Dre Rod
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Hiking

I would recommend starting early its a long hike! took about 3.5 hours up and 1.5 down. about 15 miles long

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Tone M
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HikingFeeNo shadeOff trail

Great trail single track mix of shade and exposure. Uphill for the most part some areas level out. Bring water 2 liters is good you can fill up along the way if needed and light snacks. Couple restrooms along the way and visitor center up top. Sunscreen, hat and jacket for when you reach the summit even if it’s hot at the bottom.

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T.J. Edwards
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HikingFeeNo shadeRocky

A solid hike. There is a $10 parking fee, but so worth it. parking can be difficult if you don't start early. You can drive to the summit if you want to skip the hike completely. I always recommend people start at Rock City or they miss out on a beautiful area that's pretty diverse from the actual summit trail. The summit trail itself has plenty of beautiful scenes, especially at the summit. fairly rocky and later on near the summit, there is not much shade. There are 2 stops along the length of the trail that have restrooms, so thats a bonus. I'm not an avid hiker whatsoever, but I did not find the trail as challenging as some others. Don't get me wrong, it was difficult, but I'd say just slightly above moderate. Most of the incline comes near the end, by which point you are plenty warmed up. At the summit there is a visitor center with a beautiful view on all sides (They also sell icecream at the top). I brought 3L of water but really only needed about 1.5L to 2L. Overall, not super challenging, just stay hydrated and you'll have a great time.

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Easswar Balasubramaniam
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HikingNo shade

A great workout with pretty amazing views. A few too many people around for my taste and some sections are paved and you regularly cross roads which takes away from the illusion of being out in the wild but some might prefer that. It felt chilly while starting from Rock City in the shade but I'm glad I left my jacket in the car as there's little shade most of the way up. There are a few, very few, short steep sections for example when the trail intersects the road where the soil is loose and you would need good traction. The trail doesn't actually go to the summit and I wanted to just for my satisfaction so I took the short scramble up to the visitor center from the far east point of the Mary Bowerman Loop. Definitely worth doing once, maybe I'll check out a different less traveled section the next time.

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Arjun Jay
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HikingIcySnow
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Rachel Strong
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HikingFee

I found the logistics confusing so hopefully I can help somebody else by sharing my experience. I intended to do this hike but I was convinced while driving that I had missed the trailhead by a long shot! Drive up Mt Diablo Scenic Drive (which begins right where Diablo Rd ends and Blackhawk Rd begins). It’s a little neighborhood-y for a bit but eventually you see a park entrance. You’ll climb over 1000 ft on a windy road, South Gate Road, with a lot of tight blind turns and a lot of bikers going both up and down. Eventually you’ll reach a guard station/gate - not sure when it’s staffed but it appears to be staffed at least on weekends. Pay $10, get a sticker, continue driving. Just a little bit further and you’ll see signs for Rock City to pull off on the left. This is where I parked, and the Summit Trailhead took me a while to find - you need to head back down to the main road (away from the parking) to see the trailhead. What I found so confusing is that in Google Maps and otherwise I thought the Summit Trailhead was down at the bottom of Diablo Scenic Drive? And maybe there is a trailhead all the way down there! But there’s zero parking. Rock City was the first truly viable parking spot, and the begin of this 7.6 mile out-and-back trail. It’s a relatively steady climb up - nothing technical. I found the trek down to be very taxing on my knees. I used the restroom before starting, but saw at least two more en route to the top (and while I didn’t explore the summit much I’m pretty sure there’s one up there too). Finally, there were some blockades set up saying that the Summit Trail was closed for construction or repair or something and saying to take Juniper Trail as an alternative. Uh, it wasn’t closed as far as I could see?? I just kept on climbing inspire of the signage and encountered no issues, and I wasn’t the only hiker doing so.

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Rachel Mundaden
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Hiking

Difficult long hike during forest fires! The air was pretty smoky too. Still very fulfilling to finish this long hike!

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C Rod
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HikingBugsNo shadeOff trailRocky

A rather steep and challenging with an abundance of incredible views and wildlife

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Jackie Lee
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HikingFee

There is a $10 fee to enter the State Park. The beginning of this trail is difficult to find/follow. You are actually better off turning into the parking lot and then taking the first right and parking near picnic tables. If you go all the way to the back parking lot where the drinking fountains are, it's more difficult to start the trail with this trail map. Overall the hike is a good one! Difficult due to the constant elevation gain until the peak and also lack of shade for parts. It can get pretty hot! I would recommend 2L of water per person or more on a hotter summer day! The views are beautiful at the top. Probably even better without the haze that we experienced in the Bay area and along the Sierra Mountains. The trail wasn't crowded at all. The parking lot was nearly empty at 10am Saturday morning when we started. But by 2pm when we got back, there were lots of cars due to families exploring.

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