Mt. Diablo (3849ft / 1178m) in spring


Published by felixbavaria , 12 March 2014, 17h40.

Region: World » United States » California
Date of the hike: 6 March 2014
Hiking grading: T2 - Mountain hike
Waypoints:
Geo-Tags: USA   US-CA 
Time: 7:00
Height gain: 1400 m 4592 ft.
Height loss: 1400 m 4592 ft.
Route:ca. 13 mi (20 km)
Access to start point:Trailhead parking at Mitchell Canyon (6 USD, inter-agency pass accepted)
Maps:Google Maps

Sun and fun in California

Escaping from the polar vortex to California, we were looking for a non-technical day hike near our homebase in the SF Bay Area. Mt. Diablo seemed like a perfect destination. Although the peak is not even 1200m high, it allows for a nice peak bagging loop with around 1400m of elevation gain.


Fellow hikr 360 has already described a more adventurous version of this trip. We did the loop in the reverse direction (counter-clockwise) and avoided the bushwhacks on the direct ridge line. After almost a week of rain, the north side of the mountain had turned its color from brownish to lush green, which is a stark contrast to the south face which fell victim to a forest fire a few years ago and is still recovering.

Starting from the east end of the parking lot at the Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center, we use the Bruce Lee trail (!) to ascend to a water tower. From there we take the Mitchell Rock trail that passes by Twin "Peak" (not an actual summit) to Eagle Peak, the first summit, which has a good view of the twin peak of Mt. Diablo, which seems deceivingly close.

Yet, there is still a long way to go. From Eagle Peak one has to descend around 100m, before reaching a logging road. We cross the logging road (which leads to a campground) and continue on the trail that winds up and down through the forest until reaching the saddle between North Peak and Mount Diablo. From there it's another good mile to the summit, first traversing in west direction through an area hit by forest fires (one can still smell burnt wood), then climbing to the summit on a dirt track parallel to the paved summit road.

On the summit, there is a small museum (which is free) and a fire tower with allegedly excellent views. On this day, it was rather foggy, though.

We make our way back to the saddle between the twin peaks and ascend to North Peak on a logging road. Unfortunately, North Peak is less appealing than the other summits, because it is covered by antennas which partially obstruct the view, and the ascent on the road is rather boring.

Unlike indicated in the park's trail map, the trail to Mt. Olympia does not follow the direct line from North Peak. One descends the last (steepest) part of the logging road, then does a sharp right to a dirt trail which is easy to miss at first glance. This trail leads through the thickets, traversing Mt. Olympia. The summit is a few meters away from the trail. It has a good view of the valley.

Finally, we follow the East Trail down to a logging road (Mt. Olympia road) which leads to a gate at the park boundary. There we take a sharp left and descend on another logging road into Donner Canyon. We follow the road along the Donner Canyon, which is actually a gentle valley with a nice creek and flowery meadows, almost up to its end, where we take a left on Murcho Road and traverse back to the water tower near the parking lot.

All in all, this is a nice workout which is technically trivial (T1) except for a few rougher spots. Allegedly, with ideal weather, the view from the summit ranges farther than from any peak in the lower 48 US states (all except AK and CA). Whether this is true or not, the view, even on a rather foggy day, is stunning for a peak of such low elevation. In my opinion, it is at least comparable to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, whose prominence is almost twice as high.

Hike partners: felixbavaria


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Comments (2)


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360 Pro says: CA
Sent 13 March 2014, 15h36
Ciao Felix,

Trotz passablem Wetter hier hast Du Dir leider wettermässig eine mittelmässige Woche für Deinen Kalifornien-Trip ausgesucht, denn jetzt haben wir wieder Sonne pur bei 25 Grad... Schade hat's mit der gemeinsamen Tour nicht geklappt, aber ihr seid wenigstens meinen Spuren gefolgt :-)

Greetings from CA,
360

felixbavaria says: RE:CA
Sent 13 March 2014, 23h56
Hi 360,

tja, was soll ich sagen, denn wenn das "mittelmäßig" sein soll, dann ... muss ich wohl öfter vorbeikommen. ;-)

Grüße, mittlerweile wieder aus Bayern (aber fast mit Kalifornien-Temperaturen),

Felix


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