From afar, Mount Diablo stares you right in the face.
That’s looking westward from practically any point in the Central Valley.
Actually, Mount Diablo is located in Contra Costa County just south of Clayton and northeast of Danville. At 3,864 feet, its double-pyramid shape stands alone and worth a day hike just to get a different perspective from up close.
At least that was my reasoning a few years ago when I finally came face-to-face sort of speak with Mount Diablo during a group hike.
It was this time of year – California poppy was aplenty, as I recall – as the weather later warmed up that day. Unfortunately, the trails in Mount Diablo offer very little shade.
My goal was to make it to the summit, where a native stone building serves as an observation deck with a tower housing an aircraft beacon equipped with high-powered binoculars that allows you to see the 209 from the reverse angle.
The other part of this structure is used as a historical and cultural museum.
Our group took the Mitchell Canyon-Eagle Peak trail – one of four such hikes for Mount Diablo – that’s a creek-to-peak 7.8-mile loop consisting of fire roads to the Murchio Gap. From there, the path narrows towards Eagles Peak.
There are some steep sections, in particular, going uphill out of Mitchell Canyon. Otherwise, this hike is nothing short on wildflowers.
In the end, we made it to the top and took in the 360-degree view of this part of Northern California.
Mount Diablo State Park also offers the following trails:
• Donner Canyon and Falls – This undeveloped trailhead begins in a residential area, kicking off with an easy climb along Donner Creek to Donner Canyon Road. This path meanders though mostly grassland but don’t get discouraged. It’s here that you get views of the waterfalls come this time of year. Once the weather heats up, the Mount Diablo waterfalls are no more.
• Mary Bowerman Interpretive trail, Diablo summit – This hike described very easy and is a 1-mile circuit just below the summit from the park road. Outstanding views can be found here on a clear day.
• Curry Point and Balancing Rock – An out-and-back hike that takes you through grassland, oaks, and rocky chaparral. Along the way on this 4-mile trail is plenty of variety, from interesting rock formation to a series of small ponds on Curry Canyon Road.
— VINCE REMBULAT
209 staff reporter