Mount Diablo State Park


What? : Mt. Diablo State Park is formed around the 3,849 feet Mount Diablo near Danville, CA. Many visitors to Mount Diablo head straight for the Summit to enjoy the view but I recommend to combine this with one of the many hiking option this park has to offer, see below for different hiking recommendations.

The large 20,000 acres park has unique geological landmarks and many outdoor recreational activities options, including: hiking, cycling and mountain biking.


Where? :

South Gate Entrance:

Take Highway 680 to Danville. Exit El Cerro Road and follow until it turns into Diablo Rd. Turn on Alameda Diablo and follow until South Gate Rd.

Google Map Link

North Gate Entrance:

Take Highway 680 to Walnut Creek. Exit Ygnacio Valley Road, turn on Oak Grove Rd. and continue until it turns into North Gate Rd.

Google Map Link


When? : The park is open year round. At winter it can get some snowfall and in very hot summer days the park may be subject to closure due to extreme fire danger.

At cloudy days you can have full coverage of cloud with no or limited visibility. At summer days the haze and the hot atmosphere will limit the visibility.

The best time to visit here is at nice winter day or early spring where all is green, and you can enjoy the flowers.


Due note 1: Mt. Diablo State Park is a world-class venue for mountain bikers and road cyclists. When driving on the park roads watch for cyclists on the main park road. Stay in your lane on blind curves and do not cut corners. Pass with care only when you have good visibility forward and you can see for sure there is no other incoming car or cyclist.


Due note 2: At winter and cold days Mt. Diablo can have it “own weather”, especially near the top of the mountain, check in advance and come prepared.

In cloudy days the summit can be completely covered with clouds and fog with no visibility.


Due note 3: There is 10$ per vehicle day use entry fee to the park and you pay it at the Gate Entrance. Gates are closed to arriving visitors at sunset.


Due note 4: There are 3 large campgrounds in the park. Alcohol is strictly forbidden in the park. Campsites fires are allowed only during the wet season (December through April), and only in sanctioned fire pits.


Due note 5: Dogs allowed only on paved roads, campgrounds, and developed areas. Dogs not allowed on trails or fire roads.


Due note 6: During the fire season (generally May to October), the park is subject to closure due to extreme fire danger. Campers must call the park at 925-837-2525 or 925-837-0904 one day prior to their arrival to confirm park status.


Due note 7: The use of drone and at Mount Diablo State Park is prohibited.


My thoughts: I visit this park several times and even spend one night camping near the summit. This is a big park with many hiking options, most involved with climbing on of the park mountain peaks. You can also have shorter and easier hikes and enjoy the view from the summit.



The visit:


As I wrote above there are 2 road entrances into the park, both roads meet at Junction Ranger station and from there the park main road reaches the summit of the mountain, where there is a visitors center housing an observation deck and natural history exhibits.


Mount Diablo is part of the Diablo Mountain range. You can view the bay area and the city of San Francisco as cornered by 4 high mountains, Mount Diablo (3849) is the Northeast corner and the other 3 mountains are: Mount Hamilton (4213ft, Southeast), Mount Umunhum (3486ft, Southwest), Mount Tamp (2,579ft, Northwest).


At the end of the winding road climbing up the mountain and reaching the mountain summit you can find the visitor center, museum, and the observation deck.

Mount Diablo isn't particularly tall (3,849 feet), however, it is surrounded by relatively low hills and flat valleys, so the panoramic view from the Summit is remarkable.

You can see the entire Bay area to the west and major portions of Central Valley to the east. North of the mountain you can see the Delta of San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers flowing into the San Francisco Bay.

On a clear day, usually at winter after rain, you can see for many 10’s of miles in every direction, the Sierra Nevada range that is on the east side of the central valley is clearly visible from the summit.


An aerial navigation beacon, the Standard Diablo stone tower, was built by Standard Oil at the summit in 1928. The 10-million-candlepower beacon became known as the "Eye of Diablo" and was visible for a hundred miles and helped with arial traffic navigation for many years.




I saw somewhere that there are 520 miles of hiking trails in Mount Diablo area, I only did few hikes and this is what I will describe below.

I will provide information on 2 easy hikes, one that is 6 mile long and the last one is 12.5 miles long hike that climb up the mountain from the north Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center.


I did not hike the most popular hike in the park: Mount Diablo Via Summit Trail, this is 7-mile out-and-back trail that is climbing the mountain parallel to the road, I saw many hikers that are doing this hike during weekends



Rock City:

I hiked for 1.7 mile and explore the Rock City area for almost hour and a half.

Kids will like this hike, especially the rock-climbing and exploration section.


Starting point: This popular hiking area is located one mile after the south park entrance, once you are approaching the area turn left into a side road and find parking spot.

The trail starts at the parking. I will recommend hiking first to the lower campground and there find the narrow trail that start just at the first campsite, this trail name Summit Trail.

Hike up the valley on Summit Trail for about 0.55 mile and there you will reach a trail junction with a road, here take right into Rock City Trail.

After very short trail you will see observation area, another trail fork from here to the right.

This trail climbs over the rocks and heading down northwest to the pointing rock below you.

Follow that trail and find your way down and climb up from the left side to the small fence protected viewing point.

From here you can walk back the same way you came down or you can find another trail that led you back and up to Rock City Trail, from there it an easy short hike back to the parking lot.

When I visit here on early Sunday morning, I saw many people that brought their remote cars and drove on the exposed rocks.



Summit Base Loop:

This is an easy 1.2-mile hike that circle the base of the mountain summit and after finishing the circle you can hike up to the visitor center and observation deck.

You should plan for at list one and a half hour for this short hike, you will probably want to spend time at the museum and the observation deck.


Starting point: Drive up the summit road and just before the last ascend section to the summit there is a large parking lot entrance on your right. Turn into the parking lot and park your car.

From the parking lot walk a very short distance in the direction of the summit and find the trail entrance to the Fire Interpretive Trail (do not hike by mistake into Summit trail that will lead you down).

The trail stays at the same level and circle the summit.

While hiking you can see the landscape in each direction. At the north section of the trail, you will reach wheelchair accessible viewing deck and from here a short walk on the paved trail will bring you back to the main road.

Now you need to cross the road and get into the trail that is leading to the summit and the visitor center.

Visit the summit and once you are done you need to hike back to the parking lot.



Summit Long Loop Trail:

This longer and more challenging hiking option is 5-miles-long loop trail that climb the summit from Juniper Campground with overall 1350ft elevation gain, plan for at list 2.5-3 hours hike.


Starting point: Main Park Road, Juniper Campground, Diablo Valley Overlook parking lot.

From the parking lot get into the campground and cross it all the way to the north side. Here just at the road gate there is a small Juniper Trail heading south.

Hike down for 1.1 miles on Juniper Trail, here you will cross to the other side of Summit Road.

Keep walking to the water facility on the left side of the road and find the Summit Trail leading up. Soon after you hike on Summit Trail you will pass near the large water tank, keep hiking up the trail.

After one mile of climbing, you will reach the U bend in the road, turn left, and keep hiking up (do not take North Peak Trail by mistake).

After short climb you will reach to the road (the large Parking lot will be on your left), turn right, start to walk into the summit direction and find the entrance into Fire Interpretive Trail, this easy trail section circles the summit. Hike here for 0.7-mile and you will reach the road, cross the road, and hike up at the trail leading to the summit and the visitor center (see Summit Base Loop for more details).

Once you start to hike down you need to walk into the large parking lot and find the trail that is located on the far-right end of the lot.

After 0.2 mile the trail cross the road and after additional 1 mile of downhill walk you will reach back to the parking lot you left your car.



Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center to Summit - Loop Hike:

This is 12.5 miles long hike with 3,500 ft elevation gain, it will take you 6-7 hours so plan accordingly.

Starting point: Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center at the park north section (visitor center is operative during weekends).

I did this hike 5 years ago so I do not know what trail conditions are today.


You will start your hike heading south on Mitchell Canyon Fire Road, after 2 miles of easy climb along the canyon the road start to go up the mountain sloop. After 2.7 miles you will reach a major trail junction, Meridian Ridge Rd. to the left and Deer Flat Road to the right. Turn right and keep climbing up the trail.

After 1.1 mile you will see Burma Rd. heading down the ridge and you will keep hiking up the ridge on Deer Flat Road. After 0.7 Mile you will reach Juniper Campground and additional 0.2 mile you will reach the park main road. at this point just where there are picnic table at the big tree turn left and find the Juniper Trail going up. This point is 5.4 miles from your starting point.

Hike up Juniper Trail all the way to the summit and visitor center.

Enjoy the view from the observation deck, fill your water supply and rest, from here this is all downhill.

Hike back down to the summit road entrance and at the road junction turn left into Summit Trail. Short 0.2 mile will lead you to North Peak Trail entrance. Hike for one mile until you will reach the large trail junction in the saddle between the two mountains peaks.

I decided to take the single-track Bald Ridge Trail that for the next 1.4 miles will lead you down along the narrow ridge (you can also use the Prospectors Gap Rd). Cross the Meridian Ridge Rd. and get into Back Creek Trail, this looks like is the shortest and easiest way down. If I remember correctly here some of the trail sections where not in good maintaining conditions. Soon you will get into Back Creek and after hiking down for 2 miles you will reach Bruce Lee Road, take here right.

After 0.4 miles where you reach the large fields, turn left into the direction of the visitor center on Murchio Rd and after 0.5 miles you will reach back to your starting point.

Overall, this is a long strenuous hike with a lot of climbing and some unmaintained trails.

Bring with you enough water, you can refill at few points near the mountain summit.



There are many more things to do, see and trails to hike in this large State Park.