Mount Diablo Base to Summit (13 mile loop hike)

  • mitchellCanyonFireroadSign
    Starting out on the pleasant and broad Mitchell Canyon Fire Road.
  • RussellMitchellCanyonRd
    Russell amid the lush greenery in Mitchell Canyon.
  • wildTurkeysTailDisplay
    Wild turkey toms dancing for lady turkeys.
  • turkeyTrapMitchellCanyonRd
    Turkey trap baited with grain.
  • mitchellCanyonFireRd
    Looking south down Mitchell Canyon Fire Rd.
  • rehabilitationAlongMitchellCynRd
    Landscape rehabilitation along Mitchell Canyon Fire Rd.
  • CaPoppiesDeerFlatCreek
    California poppies along Deer Flat Creek.
  • minersLettuceMitchellCynRd
    Miner's Lettuce by the side of Mitchell Canyon Rd.
  • raccoonPrintsMitchellCanyonRd
    Little hands! Raccoon prints headed north on Mitchell Canyon Rd.
  • ViewMitchellCanyonRod
    Looking back the way we came from the ascent on Mitchell Canyon Rd.
  • shootingStarMitchellCanyonRd
    Shooting Stars coming into bloom by the side of the fire road.
  • narrowleafGoldenbushMitchellCanyonRd
    Narrowleaf Goldenbush brightened up the muted tones of the chaparral on the climb.
  • buckbrushMitchellCanyonRd
    Buckbrush on a north slope along the fire road.
  • RussellDeerFlatPicnicArea
    Russell reads the dedications on the picnic tables at Deer Flat.
  • AliceMitchellCanyonRd
    Me walking up the red dirt of Mitchell Canyon Rd.
  • mapElev
    Map and elevation profile of Mount Diablo 13 mile loop hike in Mount Diablo State Park, Clayton CA.
  • viewWoodedHillsMitchellCanyonRd
    Expansive views from Mitchell Canyon Rd after Deer Flat.
  • DeerFlatRdJunctionViewEast
    Looking westward towards the Bay and Marin County from the Deer Flat Rd junction.
  • wildBrassicaDeerFlatRd
    Brilliant marigold-colored wildflower by Deer Flat Rd. Some brassica sp.?
  • burnAreaJuniperTrail
    Gnarled remains of chaparral along Juniper Trail.
  • burnedSlopeJuniperTrail
    Juniper Trail appears to have been a fire break on this slope.
  • RussellCommunicationTowerNearMtDiabloParkingLot
    Russell and the incongruous communication tower.
  • parkingLotCommunicationTowerMtDiablo
    A sea of parking lot to accommodate crowds visiting the summit.
  • newSunsetPicnicAreaMtDiablo
    Sunset Picnic Area below the Mount Diablo Summit.
  • viewCommunicationTowerFromSummitTrail
    We climbed up above the communication tower quickly on our way up Summit Trail.
  • crowsAboveSummitTrail
    Crows surprised us on the Summit Trail.
  • rockyClimbSummitTrail
    Looking south and west from Summit Trail -- more rocks and less forest than Juniper Trail.
  • MtDiabloSummitParkingLot
    Follow the painted arrows, herd of big cars. Parking lot at Mount Diablo Summit.
  • RussellAliceMtDiabloSummit
    Russell & me in front of the north view from Mount Diablo Summit.
  • viewMtDiabloSummit
    Looking north & east from the Mount Diablo Summit.
  • eastViewMtDiabloSummit
    Eastward (?) view from Mount Diablo Summit.
  • AliceMtDiabloSummit
    Sporting my MLD Burn pack on the stairway up to the Mount Diablo Summit.
  • toyInTreeSummitTrailRussell
    Horse or camel? On the Summit Trail down to North Peak Trail.
  • morganFire04
    The North Peak Trail from the trailhead. #morganfire04
  • morganFireRecovery
    Crowdsourcing images of the Morgan Fire recovery: station 04 at the North Peak Trailhead.
  • startOfNorthPeakTrail
    The North Peak Trail heading back north.
  • RussellAliceNorthPeakTrail
    Russell & me on the North Peak Trail.
  • AliceBurnPackNorthPeakTrail
    Risking poison oak by hiking in running shorts. What can I say, I like to live on the edge.
  • indianWarriorNorthPeakTrail
    Indian Warrior in bloom with red foliage by the side of the trail.
  • BaldRidgeTrail
    A grassy crest along the trail.
  • AliceRussellEaglePeak
    Me & Russell with the westward view from Eagle Peak.
  • RussellRidgeConcord
    Russell looking down from Eagle Peak Trail towards Concord.
  • TwinPeaksMtDiabloSP
    A small promontory called Twin Peaks along Eagle Peak Trail. Insert Kyle MacLachlan joke here.
  • redLarkspurEaglePeakTrail
    Red Larkspur next to Eagle Peak Trail as we descended.
  • RussellEndEaglePeakTrail
    Russell at the end of Eagle Peak Trail as it joined Coulter Pine fire road.
  • MitchellCanyonVisitorCenter
    The small yet mighty visitor center at the Mitchell Canyon entrance to Mount Diablo State Park.

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25 Responses

  1. Love the new haircut!! It will make your life soo much easier.
    I’m in the process of growing mine back out… not as fun!

    • Alice says:

      Thanks. I’m definitely digging the short hair this time around. It is SO EASY to take care of. Worth it for the trail for that reason alone.

  2. Max says:

    Thanks for this report! What an amazing landscape!

    The wildlife shots are great. No turkeys in the turkey trap, I see.

    The hot sunny day and 1+ gallon water combo is a good one to go for.

    I will now copy and paste Wikipedia’s answers to two burning questions I had about this amazing location.

    Mount Diablo is sacred to many California Native American peoples; according to Miwok mythology and Ohlone mythology, it was the point of creation. Prior to European entry, the creation narrative varied among surrounding local groups. In one surviving narrative fragment, Mount Diablo and Reed’s Peak (Mount Tamalpais) were surrounded by water; from these two islands the creator Coyote and his assistant Eagle-man made Indian people and the world. In another, Molok the Condor brought forth his grandson Wek-Wek the Falcon Hero, from within the mountain.

    The conventional view is that the peak derives its name from the 1805 escape of several Chupcan Native Americans from the Spanish in a nearby willow thicket. The natives seemed to disappear, and the Spanish soldiers thus gave the area the name “Monte del Diablo”, meaning “thicket of the devil.” Monte was later misinterpreted by English speakers as mount or mountain.

  3. ann smith says:

    I’m enjoying your blog. I just read your JMT ’13 trip and am looking forward to following your PCT trip. About your shoes…my only comment would be lacing tighter at the collar of the shoe and put in a surgeon’s knot in your starting knot. That is, when you first loop your laces before tying the knot, make two loops instead of one and make sure this knot is laying tightly atop the tongue to keep your heel locked into the rear cup and preventing your foot from sliding forward inside the shoe when on descents. It may feel overly tight to start with but it saves your toes.

  4. T Edwards says:

    Thank you for a very informative post.

    By the way, I believe that trap is for wild pigs, not turkeys.

  5. Mike says:

    Thanks for this post. This is the best trail information to the summit I have found online.

  6. Genoa says:

    I am planning to hike Mt. Diablo around the end of August/early September. When you say there are strenuous parts, how bad is it? My daughter and I frequently home Black Diamond Mines, that is what we know, how much worse is Mt. Diablo? I know it is longer and higher, I mean the incline levels I guess.

    • Alice says:

      Hi Genoa, I hope you had a lovely hike last year. I’m not familiar with Black Diamond Mines, but I would say a challenging part of the Mt. Diablo hike in August or September could be the heat, and managing your hydration. Take more water than you would expect, and you can fill up at the drinking fountains near the summit.

  7. Joyce says:

    Excellent write-up and description! Here are a couple of edits for you (I am a volunteer docent with Mt. Diablo Interpretive Association): 1) the name of the last trail you took after Mitchell Rock Trail is Oak Road – the fire road that leads back to the trailhead and parking lot at Mitchell Canyon. After descending Mitchell Rock Trail, the narrow trail to the right is Coulter Pine Trail, and the fire road to the left (and also to the slight right) is Oak Road. To reach the parking lot from Mitchell Rock Trail, turn left on Oak Rd. 2) The trap in the excellent photograph is a pig trap. The wild (non-native) pig population on Mt. Diablo is growing rapidly. Wild pigs are destructive to the landscape and although they are nocturnal and seldom seen by humans, they can be dangerous if encountered.

    • Alice says:

      Thanks for the corrections and info, Joyce! Mt. Diablo such a wonderful site — thanks for helping us understand it better.

  8. Jessica Shi says:

    Hi Alice, loooove your blog. Your detailed descriptions are SO helpful. I hiked up to Diablo summit from Mitchell Canyon in the spring of 2013, and then again this past Tuesday. I do the hike to train for Half Dome (which I’m doing this coming Monday). I couldn’t find a good description of the loop from Mitchell Canyon and back down, but your post led me all the way! In 2013 I missed the turn for Eagle Peak and ended coming back down via Meridian. This time I went through Eagle Peak thanks to you. =D

    I also LOVE your posts on the PCT, as I’m planning to thru-hike next year. So much useful info, especially the gear weights and comments on what worked and what didn’t. Thank you again.

    • Alice says:

      Thanks so much, Jessica. I’m so glad the description of the Mt. Diablo hike was helpful — that’s why I write.

      Have fun preparing for the PCT! Feel free to hit me up if you have any questions between now and departure. You’re gonna have an amazing hike :)

  9. Jenny says:

    Hi! Thanks for this write-up! I just came across it when I Googled Mt. Diablo summit hike. It was an awesome day! I’m definitely going to check out the rest of your blog!

    Just a couple of things. I’m not sure if I took some wrong turns or if the signs have changed. Wrong turns are completely possible because my fitness app says my hike was over 23 miles…..I’ll post what I can remember…my notes didn’t save…but maybe this, or the response to it will help someone else…

    First, Deer Flat didn’t seem to be a road, but an area. I read the info posted about wildlife and looked around for a trail head but didn’t see one. After passing thru Deer Flat I came to a fork: left (straight) one took me down XX Canyon Rd. (can’t remember the name) and the right one was Juniper Campground Rd. I passed another hiker on his way down and he said I was on the right path (a right path, but probably not “the” right path anyway!)

    Second, at the top of Juniper Campground Rd. you have to go left or right. There was a marker pointing left, but it did not say Juniper Campground (surprise, I don’t remember what it said) but another hiker directed me that way. The marker did not say what was to the right.

    Third, on the way back down, I found a trail head marked south gate or south something, but couldn’t find anything that said, “to southern edge of park” or “Devil’s Pulpit.” I’m wondering if this would have been the right option, but it was 430pm and sundown was 730pm, so I decided to high-tail it back the way I came….I ran most of the way down. Yikes- I’m going to hurt tomorrow!

    Thanks again!

  10. Jenny says:

    PS- my time was 6h 5m, so maybe my fitness app just double counted when I was running down those steep hills. I haven’t noticed before, but I guess that is an possibility.

  11. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the great review of this hike! I solo hiked this yesterday. I have to say coming down on Bald Ridge and Eagle Peak kicked my butt! I am impressed that you ran down sections of these, that rocks! Needless to say my time was closer to 9 hours cuz I was so slow coming down 😛 (Like Russell, I loved powering up the grades though). I felt some of the trail markers around the Juniper and Summit areas left something to be desired. Like you, I overshot and backtracked a lot. There was a lot of guesswork involved. North Peak trail wasn’t even marked at all! Just said “general trail” (or something like that). Nice that there was a huge topo map right next to the trailhead, though. Everything after Bald ridge was marked pretty well, I thought. The views were amazing. I went on a very clear, smog-free day and I was dazzled. Water-wise, I took a three litre bladder with me and didn’t top it off enroute. Ran out about two miles away from Mitchell Canyon Rd. My bad, next time I will pack an extra gatorade, too.

  12. Daniel says:

    Just did this same hike a few days ago except that my cousin and I got lost 7 times, haha. Oh yeah, and it was in the lower 90’s…. Definitely a good and fun hike, thanks for posting this, it gave me the motivation to finally get up and do it, haha!

  13. Asghar says:

    Hello Alice. I was looking for md trailhead when I ran into your experience. Thanks for the post. It’s very informative. I’ll do this tomorrow, cause I’m preparing for pct. where can I find your jmt and pct hikes notes? I’m taking classes at REI and sportsbasement. Meantime, l am looking for a thru hike company or companies.

  14. Hi Alice

    Great write up. My son and I did it this weekend, using your guide as a basis! The blog is here:

  15. Thaddeus Beier says:


    Thanks for the blog post, and all the wonderful photos, it inspired me to try the same hike. I got to the Michell Canyon parking lot Friday morning, and to my surprise there was a young woman, Kim, there who had also read the same blog, and was also going to try the same hike. We walked together for the first few miles.

    I did great up to the top, and down around the North Peak trail, but unfortunately missed the Eagle Ridge trail — re-reading your blog I see that it was hard for you to find as well! I ended up going up the North Peak Road to the top, down the other side, up the Olympic Peak trail (not real happy about that!) then down an un-named trial, finally to the Donner Creek Fire Road, then some un-named roads out back to the Mitchell Canyon parking lot — 19 miles instead of 13.

    The most scary part of the trip was just how few people were on the trail — for the first 12 miles there were six other people on the trail, and for the last seven nobody else.

    I’d strongly recommend that people bring a detailed map before they start the hike, and also to go on weekends instead of weekdays when there are other people around you can ask questions when you need to know!

    All in all, though, it was an exciting, invigorating experience. Thank you for suggesting the hike, it was inspiring!

  16. Eric says:

    Thanks for this detailed writeup! As a fellow Oaklander I’m also looking to Mt Diablo to train me up for a bigger hike in the near future (4-day tramp in New Zealand on Kepler trek)!

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