If you haven’t been in a while, or if you’ve never been, the only thing you may know about Mount Diablo is what you saw on the news last fall when the Morgan Fire charred more than three thousand acres, most inside Mount Diablo State Park. The area had not seen a fire since the 1930s, and though much more rain is still needed, signs of recovery are sprouting all over the mountain. Venture east to ample trails that highlight how amazing a spring fire recovery can be.
The View From the Top
Many visitors head straight to the Mount Diablo summit. On a golden viewing day, you can be rewarded with views beyond the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands. If you’ve got binoculars (and Mother Nature cooperates), you may even be able to pick out Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
When you go, take advantage of the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association. MDIA volunteers help show off the park to more than one million visitors each year through a variety of activities. There’s everything from waterfall hikes to butterfly walks and armchair tours.
Round the Mountain Hike, April 18th, 10am
Wildflowers should be in full show-off mode for the Round the Mountain Hike, a classic loop hike providing views in all directions as you circle the park’s dominant peak via Deer Flat, Prospector’s Gap, and Oak Knoll. Almost half of the hike will pass through burn areas, giving hikers a close-up view of all the new plant growth. The route also provides views of parts of the park that burned.
Photo courtesy of Michael Marchiano, Mount Diablo Interpretive Association
Meet at the Juniper Camp Trailhead for this all day adventure. There’s a $10 fee per car, so convince some friends to come along and carpool. Plan on six-and-a-half hours for this eight-mile hike with a total elevation gain of 2000 feet. Wear good hiking shoes; bring lunch, liquids, snacks, and dress in layers.
A word to the wise: poison oak is found throughout the park, and can be spread even by touching clothing that has brushed against the plant. So be smart, stay on the trails, and listen to the guide.
Can’t make it on the 18th? Save the date for Sunday, April 27. In celebration of California State Parks’ 150th Anniversary and MDIA’s 40th, it’s all things Mount Diablo, which means special activities and some amazing hikes worth dusting off your boots and getting up early for.
Dana can be found on Twitter @drebmann