Mount Diablo is one of the more interesting and challenging places to hike in the East Bay. Besides the unreal views of the East Bay and Central Valley, the mountain has a wide range of ecosystems, including attractive oak-dotted meadows, Coulter Pine groves, coastal scrub, and sun-blasted chaparral. In spring, a profusion of unusual flowers grow among these varied plant communities.
The best scenery is near the summit, above 2500 feet. At lower elevations, the scrub-covered slopes are much less scenic, but at the base of the mountain are oak-wooded foothills with some very nice hikes.
Hiking Mount Diablo can be rewarding, but it’s not easy. The trails, especially the ones close to the summit, tend to be steep, gravelly, and difficult. The mountain is dominated by shrublands so much of the trail system is exposed, and the singletrack trails are almost always narrow, with lots of encroaching brush and poison oak.
The busiest parts of the park are Rock City, with its odd rock formations, the summit, and the road to the summit, which is very popular with cyclists. Just below the summit are a lot of picnic areas which are attractively wooded but not heavily-used.
The most scenic and challenging route from base to summit of Mount Diablo, starting at the Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center and climbing up the north side of the mountain via Eagle Peak.
A loop at the base of Mount Diablo with a lot of variety, climbing to some nice views and then skirting wealthy suburban Danville.
Perched on a high plateau near the summit of Mount Diablo, this very popular campground features dramatic views of the San Ramon Valley.
Located midway up Mount Diablo, Junction is a small campground in a blue oak grove. The six sites are first-come, first-served and can’t be reserved.
A small but densely-packed low-elevation campground, located in a sheltered, pleasantly wooded glen next to the Rock City area.
© 2015, 2022 David Baselt