Hiking to the Summit of Mt. Diablo

by Kelli H. on November 24, 2014

On Saturday my friend Michelle and I drove the two hours from where we live to Mt. Diablo where we met our friend, Ali. We planned for a hike to the Summit of Mt Diablo. This hike was about a month in the making, and we weren’t about to let go of those plans due to rain in the forecast. Plus, it was predicted that the rain would cease around 11.

When we got to the trailhead where we were meeting Ali, we weren’t quite sure what to think. It was about 10:30 and it was still raining. We tightened up our rain jackets and decided to give it a go. I mean, we did drive all the way out there. As we were walking to the trail, we saw one lone man in a bright yellow jacket walking away from the trail. Yup, Saturday was not a day of hiking for the faint of heart.

For most of the hike we saw views of a cliff covered with fog. I’m sure the views would have been amazing, but we couldn’t tell. We knew we were up high from the incredibly winding drive up the mountain. At least the dense fog made it easier for Ali, who is afraid of heights.

After about 30 minutes of hiking we started to see a tiny bit of blue skies but that didn’t last long. Most of the trails were like the photo above, wide fire road trails with little tree cover. We were happy that it was a cool fall day to keep us cool.

We stopped randomly on the trails to check for trail markers, catch our breath, and take in the views when the fog would allow. We had some confusion with the trail markers, but we never got lost — thank god! I had printed out a map and highlighted our loop as well as detailed directions. Seriously, I love the internet for directions.

I can’t even tell you how many uphill climbs there were. I know it doesn’t look like much from these photos, but I think I read somewhere that the loop we did has about a 1,400 foot climb, so you could imagine how steep it was. Plus, for some reason in the East Bay they don’t believe in switch backs.

Once we made it to North Peak Trail we thought the hike was a little more enjoyable. Ali found these weird bright red balls attached to an oak leaf. Anyone know what they are?

North Peak Trail was more my style with smaller single track trails and HAH! even one switch back which is referred to as the Devils Elbow. At least we thought this was the Devils Elbow…who knows. Before we hit Summit Trail we ran in to two mountain bikers who were flying down the mountain. You seriously have to be pretty hard core to be riding your mountain bike down that mountain in the very limited visibility. I’m always amazed by people who have no fear.

We were happy to see the sign for Summit Trail which meant only another 1/2 mile to the top. Of course, that was quite a steep trail, too. Luckily it didn’t last long and we knew we’d get to sit down and finish the rest of our snacks for a late lunch. Please don’t laugh at my awesome hiking attire.

Finally we made it to the top which has a look out point, museum, and gift shop. It was kind of funny that we hiked miles to get to the summit, but you can also drive your car straight to the summit. We kind of wished that you couldn’t drive your car to the summit so that everyone had to work as hard as  us to make it to the top. Is that mean? Oh well. We explored the summit a bit before we ate.

So much for the lookout point since it was covered in fog. We did have a funny moment here when Ali had a little freak out about the height. I thought it was pretty cool out there. It felt like we were in the middle of the sky.

After we sat down and ate our snacks, the fog cleared up a tad and we were able to see some views. You can’t see it in my photo but we were able to even spot the Golden Gate Bridge!

I’m so thankful for these girls. We’ve been friends for ten years now! It’s hard for us to all get together, but I love spending time with them. I’m so happy that we’ll be together more this summer celebrating for Michelle’s upcoming wedding in August. I’m looking forward to that a lot!

Mt. Diablo kicked our butts, and as I sit here writing about it, my butt is hurting! It was such a good butt and leg workout. I’m not sure I’d visit Mt. Diablo again any time soon, but I’m glad we got out there and decided to be adventurous. It was definitely a long day between leaving at 8:30 a.m. and getting home right around 5 p.m. I love having fun exploring new places without spending a ton of money. We made lots of new memories, especially with Michelle’s car sickness.

Our hiking route (Grand Loop) was as followed; 
1. Start at Juniper Campground.
2. Go straight on Deer Flat Road (past the bathrooms).
3. Right on Meridian Ridge Road (this is further than you’d think — couple miles).
4. Stay straight on to Prospectors Gap Road.
5. Right at North Peak Trail. Sign is next to a big oak tree.
6. At Devils Elbow, go right towards Summit Trail.
7. At parking lot go on to Summit Trail.
8. Head towards the summit crossing paved road. 
9. Head down to the west end of lower parking area. Trail is on the left. 
10. Follow Juniper Trail back to the start. This is longer than you’d think for about 1 mile.
11. Finish! Change clothes, drink water, and make way back down winding mountain! 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Made in Sonoma November 24, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Looks like a great hike, despite for foggy and rainy conditions. Mt. Diablo’s on my list of places to check out, but I always end up being to lazy to make the trek down there! Oh, those red things on the oak leaf are probably some type of gall.


Made in Sonoma November 24, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Andrew and I really want to do this hike! I loved your Instagram this weekend, and was hoping I’d see a post about it!


Made in Sonoma November 24, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Looks like a good hike! I’ve been sticking to my usual hikes lately and want to switch it up soon and try a new one. Love the picture of the scenery after the fog lifted!


Made in Sonoma November 25, 2014 at 12:22 am

I’m glad you were looking forward to the post! I hope you guys do it in the spring! It would be reallllyyy hot in the summer.


Made in Sonoma November 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm

WOW! What a gorgeous hike. That third-to-last picture is just stunning! You’re making me want to get up, throw the little one in her baby backpack, and go for a hike right now!


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