Hiking to the summit of Mount Diablo

Morgan Brown

San Francisco Area
Downtown SF
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Mount Diablo
Grant County Park
North Bay
SF Peninsula
South Bay
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Glacier NP
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Kim & Morgan
Mom & Dad

Books that Morgan

Foghorn Outdoors: California Hiking: The Complete Guide to More Than 1,000 of the Best Hikes

By Tom Stienstra and Ann Marie Brown. Excellent guidebook, especially for the Bay Area. This is an updated version.

On April 26, 2003, Kim and I finally got around to climbing Mount Diablo. On summitpost.com, I was disappointed with the choices of trail, so I decided to try a "new" one, or more precisely, one for which we had no information. From the topo, I found the western approaches most appealing. In particular, the airy Moses Spring Ridge looked airy and denuded--perfect for a spring hike.

We got a "Calpine start" (09:30) from the Angel Kerley Road trailhead (920 feet elevation), which climbs immediately and steeply (600 feet over 1/2 mile) to the intersection with Burma Road (see tripmap). If you want to get to the summit, quickly, Burma Road is probably not your best bet. It meanders for over a mile, contouring a south-facing slope until meeting Deer Flat Road on airy Long Ridge. Deer Flat Road was pretty muddy in this section, which cuts through a low-elevation pine forest.

The best views on Deer Flat Road occur at the 2500-foot+ level, along Moses Rock Ridge. After cresting a hill, Deer Flat Road meets the trail that climbs up from Mitchell Canyon. It is here where one gets the first views of the summit, and in my opinion, where the scenic beauty of the hike deteriorates. Soon you're hiking through a campground. Warning, if you want (and you probably do) to take the Juniper Trail to the summit, be careful, as the trail junction is easy to miss. Just before reaching the main (Summit) road, note signs for the Laurel Nook Group Picnic Area and jog left to the Juniper Trail

We missed the Juniper Trail on the climb and winded up following the road for about a mile toward the summit. It's not the end of the world, but it does detract from any positive aesthetic aspect that this crowded part of the mountain offers. Upon reaching the summit, we were quite disappointed with the hazy views. On this cloudy day, the spring greenery (and later, paragliders) would prove the highlight of the trip.

On the hike down, we found the Juniper Trail and marked it with our GPS for posterity. The paragliders were the highlight. First one, then another, and suddenly there were perhaps 10 in the air in our immediate vicinity, with ten more much higher, circling like the ungainliest vultures you've ever seen. The highest danced in and out of the fast-moving Stratus clouds. We avoided the muddy Burma Road on the way down, opting instead for the much more direct Mothers Trail.

Paraglider Movie! (click to view -- 3.6 MB AVI file)

Click on small images to start "slide show"
md00-mount-diablo-tripmap.jpg (309 KB)

Hiking map to Mount Diablo sum...
md00a-roadmap.jpg (103 KB)

md01-steep-trail.jpg (210 KB)

From the road (see cars in cen...
md02-kim-climbing.jpg (225 KB)

Kim hiking the grassy slopes a...
md03-signpost1.jpg (141 KB)

From Angel Kerley Road, a reco...
md04-oak-tree.jpg (302 KB)

Large oak tree and green slope...
md05-signpost2.jpg (86 KB)

At the crest of Long Ridge, go...
md06-pine-trees.jpg (256 KB)

High on Long Ridge, following ...
md07-moses-rock-spring.jpg (294 KB)

Natural springs dot the hillsi...
md08-steep-grassy-slopes.jpg (289 KB)

Deer Flat Road climbs higher o...
md09-grassy-slopes.jpg (242 KB)

The smooth, undulating slopes ...
md10-signpost3.jpg (88 KB)

High on Moses Rock Ridge, you ...
md11-moist-trail.jpg (233 KB)

Although much of the hillsides...
md12-first-summit-views.jpg (236 KB)

After cresting a small hill at...
md13-mini-cooper-convention.jpg (171 KB)

OK, so the summit is not exact...
md14-furry-friends.jpg (167 KB)

A well-stocked gift shop and i...
md15-juniper-trail-demystified.jpg (209 KB)

The Juniper Trail can be prett...
md16-signpost4.jpg (79 KB)

Trail marker across the street...
md17-paraglider-from-afar.jpg (122 KB)

On the descent, paragliders we...
md18-grassy-slopes.jpg (218 KB)

More typical grassy springtime...
md19-paraglider-hills.jpg (104 KB)

This paraglider struggles to c...
md20-moses-spring-ridge-pano.jpg (359 KB)

Panoramic view from Moses Rock...
md21-lone-oak.jpg (161 KB)

Lone Oak tree and steep grassy...
md21-paraglider-party.jpg (60 KB)

"Paraglider party" seemed an a...
md22-burma-trail.jpg (223 KB)

The Burma Road cuts an odd pro...
md23-kim-poppies.jpg (196 KB)

The poppies were out, but not ...
md24-paraglider-tandem.jpg (91 KB)

This tandem paragliding outfit...
md25-paragliders-pano.jpg (163 KB)

Fantastic panorama of no less ...
md26-kim-bottom.jpg (241 KB)

Kim at the bottom. The Angel ...

© 2006 , Stanford Exploration Project
Department of Geophysics
Stanford University

Modified: 05/07/06, 19:22:58 PDT , by morgan
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