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Mount Diablo State Park

Experience tarantulas up close and personal. This is their nesting time—and the perfect time to see these fuzzy arachnids scurry across trails and roads. Head over to the Visitor’s Center where you can hold one as rangers supervise.

Photo Credit: Susan Taylor

Mount Diablo State Park

Getting There

Mount Diablo is located at 96 Mitchell Canyon Road in Clayton, about 50 miles east of San Francisco. The park may be accessed by vehicle from the Walnut Creek area (North Gate Road) as well as from the Danville area (South Gate Road). Gates open at 8:00 a.m. and close at sunset. For updates on the status of the observation deck call (925) 837-2525. Day use parking fee: $10/vehicle. The summit and the Visitor Center are open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily.

Things to Do

Try these awesome hikes recommended by our partner Weekend Sherpa:

  • A great option to get the full 360 view is to walk the Mary Bowerman Trail (aka Fire Interpretive Trail), a 0.7-mile loop circumventing the summit and the Visitor Center. (The first half of this nature loop is wheelchair accessible.) Take in the full gravitas of the Bay Area vistas, from the windmills of Livermore Valley all the way to San Francisco’s Sutro Tower. Full details at Weekend Sherpa.

  • Hike the Juniper Trail. The Juniper trailhead is located on the north end of the Diablo Valley Overlook, just beyond the parking area. Follow the signed Juniper Trail. After ascending 1-mile, you'll intersect Summit Road, then pick up Juniper Trail again on the other side. Full details at Weekend Sherpa.
  • Grand Loop on Mount Diablo should be on your spring to-do list. This 6.5-mile trek around the East Bay's tallest peak is grand in more than just its beauty: it's a real thigh-burner with substantial uphill stretches, so be sure to bring lots of water—and energy. Starting from the Juniper Campground parking area at 3,000 feet, the loop leads clockwise around the mountain, then climbs right up to the summit. From the path, a rich green landscape unfolds across the coastal range and down to the bay. Along the way, lupine, poppies, and lilies add color. This exposed trail gets firecracker hot in summer, and the trail also gets steep, so wear shoes with good tread. Park at Juniper Campground off Summit Rd. There are two paved roads; walk down the one on the right to Deer Flat Rd. Continue on Deer Flat Rd. for 1.5 miles until you reach Deer Flat. Go right on Meridian Ridge Rd. Continue on Meridian Ridge Rd. for about a mile through Murchio Gap and up to Prospector's Gap Trail (an Eagle Peak side-trip can be made at Murchio Gap). Continue up the Prospector's Gap Trail for 1.3 miles until you reach Prospector's Gap (a North Peak side-trip can made here). Go right, up the North Peak Trail toward Mount Diablo's summit. Reach Devil's Elbow after 1 mile and go right, then up the Summit Trail to the lower summit parking lot. Walk to the back of the lot and descend the Juniper Trail 1 mile back to your car. No dogs. Full details at Weekend Sherpa.

Trip Tips/Things to See

Legend has it that a clear day atop the summit of Mount Diablo offers views so broad that only the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro surpasses its scope. At 3,849 feet above sea level, it offers the largest visible expanse of land and water in the lower 48 states. The optimal time to get the biggest view is after a winter storm, when the air is at its crispest. Anyone with four wheels and an engine can gaze at the views from the top, but you’ll gain far more jaw-dropping vistas by tackling this devil by foot on the 4.2-mile Juniper Summit Loop from the Juniper Campground. Climb moderately steep single-track switchbacks that begin under the shade of California bay and gray pine before breaking into epic views of the East Bay. After 1.5 miles, you'll reach the observation deck (currently closed for renovations; see our tip below for viewpoint alternatives!) atop the Mount Diablo Visitor Center (still open!), where you can tap your toe upon the highest point in the East Bay. Then gawk at the famous panorama as a sea of fog drenches the rippling hills below. On a good day you can even see the snow capped Sierra Nevada to the east! Descend via the (sometimes steep) Summit Trail for still more views, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Mount Tamalpais and beyond. This devil’s a delight! Full details at Weekend Sherpa.

Nearby State Parks

Some parks close to Mount Diablo:

  • Cowell Ranch/John Marsh State Historic Park
  • Bethany Reservoir State Recreation Area

More Resources

Department of Parks and Recreation: Official Park Webpage

Cooperating Association: Mount Diablo Interpretive Association

More Fun Ideas at: Weekend Sherpa



California State Parks Foundation

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