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Walnut Creek Magazine

7 Stunning Hiking & Biking Routes on Mount Diablo

Feb 03, 2023 02:24PM ● By Mary Nagle
(Photography by Scott Hein. This article originally appeared on 

If you’re looking for a good spot for a post-rain hike or mountain-biking trip, then you’ve come to the right place. Don’t let the rain keep you indoors, because there are plenty of places to explore in wet weather on Mount Diablo. The best spots are generally above 1,000 feet in elevation—soils drain much better at higher elevations than in clay soil below—keeping trails drier and more stable. These seven stunning routes are perfect for the rainy season.


Mary Bowerman Trail

Looking for an easy trail for kids that has some of the best views in the world? The Mary Bowerman Fire Interpretive trail is a mile-long loop atop Mount Diablo that circles the summit. It has little incline, and a third of it is paved. With scenic vistas at every angle, on a clear day you’ll see about 200 miles out to Half Dome and the Sierra Nevada. 

Named after Save Mount Diablo’s co-founder, Dr. Mary Bowerman, the trail honors her legacy. Ask for a trail guide at the visitor center if you’re interested in learning about the distinctive geology and history of Mount Diablo’s summit. Trail Guide 

Grand Loop

The Grand Loop is a popular hike for a reason: it provides a challenging and enriching six-mile trek throughout upper Mount Diablo. Expect to see gorgeous views of the Bay Area and wildlife on this trail. Trail Guide 


Bike Mitchell Canyon to North Peak

During the rainy season, it can be challenging to find a good route for mountain biking. Travel up Mitchell Canyon Road, to Mount Diablo’s summit, and then to North Peak. A strenuous ride, you'll be on the mountain all day, experiencing views from two different peaks. (It’s also one of the best ways to get to Diablo’s summit when roads close to cars due to snow.) Trail Guide 

Mitchell Canyon to Black Point

If you’re looking for a moderately challenging hike, check out Black Point. It’s one of Mount Diablo’s less visited peaks which drains well after the rain, so trails are safe to traverse in wetter conditions. During the spring, this trail is populated with a wide assortment of rare and endemic flowers like the Mount Diablo globe lily. Trail Guide 


The Donner Canyon and Falls Loop

Don’t miss this iconic loop during the rainy season when hikers can experience numerous cascading waterfalls and creeks—a rare sight in the Mount Diablo area. Keep in mind that this trail can get slippery and muddy quickly, so prepare accordingly. Expect to cross through a few creeks while admiring the beauty of Donner Canyon’s extraordinary waterfalls. Trail Guide 

Rock Caves at Rock City

Starting at Mount Diablo State Park’s southern boundary, this challenging trail takes hikers to the Mount Diablo summit through numerous ancient rock formations. It’s a hike through millions of years of history and has been called “a geologic storybook.” With 2,940 feet in elevation gain, the trail can be experienced in smaller sections. Try exploring the uppermost section, starting at the summit where the soil drains best, and the views are one-of-a-kind. Trail Guide 

Juniper to Summit Loop

Starting at Juniper Campground, this moderate hike is a great way to experience the oak and chaparral ecosystems of Mount Diablo and changes in ecology higher on the mountain. On days when the summit road is closed due to weather, this is a great way to access Mount Diablo’s summit on foot. Trail Guide

Green and Gorgeous Shell Ridge

After all the wet weather in December and January, Mount Diablo and its foothills have become spectacularly beautiful. One extraordinary place is the Shell Ridge Open Space. Check out Save Mount Diablo's Regional Trail Map to find more great places to hike close to home. 

With more than 120,000 acres of preserved lands on and around Mount Diablo, you can lose yourself in the beauty of the mountain for an hour, a day, or a week. The map displays protected lands and trails within the Diablo region, which is roughly bounded north to south from Suisun Bay to Highway 580 through the Altamont Pass, and west to east from Highway 680 to the Byron Highway.


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