Did you know 2021 is Mt. Diablo’s 100th birthday? In 1921, it was just a few hundred acres of land you could reach by private toll round. Now, in 2021, it has grown into the 20,000-acre park we all get to enjoy today!
For thousands of years, the caretakers of the land were Native Americans who considered Mt. Diablo a sacred place. Of course, there were gold seekers and ranch owners who eventually forced Native Americans from the land but we are lucky that the park we have today is preserved and protected from development.
A few months ago, my son was visiting from the East Coast with his girlfriend and he wanted to show her where he grew up. We decided to head to Rock City to see the wind caves and the sentinel. Surprisingly, I had never been there before. After a few hours of hiking and adventures of rock climbing, we took a drive to the summit for 360-degree views of the Bay, Marin, and the Valley.
It was still a bit hazy with some leftover fire smoke, but you could see the tower of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance and the Salesforce Tower in downtown San Francisco. I had forgotten there was a beacon atop the Mt. Diablo tower to navigate night planes before electronic navigation. It now only lights up once a year, in remembrance of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. What a fascinating tidbit – keep your eyes peeled for the blinking light this December!
One other bonus of the fall atop Mt. Diablo is that October is mating season for tarantulas. Over the years, I’ve seen several tarantulas while hiking through Shell Ridge, but the Park Ranger said they seem to congregate at the Mitchell Canyon entrance area in Clayton. He also mentioned that mornings and evenings are the best time to see them. It’s quite a sight, but not for the arachnophobes out there.
All in all, we are lucky to live in such a gorgeous place, under the shadow of an amazing peak like Mt. Diablo. Here’s to 100 more years of exploring it!
We know the next storm’s a comin’ to the Bay Area soon – 3 feet expected up at Trucke, but you can’t deny you’ve enjoyed this crazy beautiful warm weather for the past couple weeks. I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken full advantage of it and gone hiking as much as possible with my dog, Bodie.
Funny enough, I found this story about the best hikes in the East Bay recently, and I’m dying to try a few that I’ve never been on before. Once this next storm clears, I’m going to hit the trails! Here is a list of the top five East Bay hikes, combined from the story linked above and my own experiences.
Camp Force Overlook, Mt. Diablo (0.7 miles – easy) – according to the article, this starts just past Rock City and takes you through an area of crumbling stoves where famous Boy Scout leader Raymond Force and his troop used to camp. You can also watch some epic rock climbing from a distance
(bring binoculars!) on the face of Gibraltar Rock.
Shell Ridge, Walnut Creek Open Space (3 miles – easy) – technically, the trail we’re talking about here is the Indian Creek – Twin Ponds loop that takes you up to the Rockspring entrance in Walnut Creek, past Bullfrong pond, and up and down many moderate slopes. The best part is the breathtaking view of downtown Walnut Creek and beyond you get on clear days. This is the hike I tend to do the most and Bodie absolutely loves to be off leash and running abound.
Bruce Lee Spring Trail, Mt. Diablo (3.1 miles – moderate) – this trail winds through the hills behind Clayton and affords you a nice view of the Mt. Diablo summit. There will be a little bit of a creek crossing and plenty of uphill hiking, but it’s well worth it in the end. According to the story above, your best bet is to go from the Bruce Lee Spring Trail to the Hetherington Trail to complete the loop.
Borges Ranch, Walnut Creek Open Space (9 miles – difficult) – the longest hike on this list isn’t a terribly steep climb (unless you opt to climb up into the Castle Rock area, which is clearly visible for most of your hike), but will bring you on a long, ambling loop that starts and finishes at the historic, unique Borges Ranch. It feels like you’re in the Wild West for a moment when you walk by the old homestead!
The Amphitheater, Mt. Diablo (4.3 miles – difficult) – this hike starts just off Morgan Territory Rd., and gives you expansive views of the Delta and Mt. Diablo. To get to the “amphitheater,” follow the Morgan Creek Rd. trailhead to Jeremiah Creek Trail, take a right and then a left on Old Finley Rd. The history and beauty of the spot will amaze you.