Hiking Mt. Diablo is like spending a day with a dear old friend.
You never tire of the time you get to spend together.
As a peak freak of sorts, Mt. Diablo is appealing in a number of ways.
It is close-by — roughly an hour by several eastern hiking entry points off of Marsh Creek Road or about 80 minutes to the Danville entrance. It also has more than 200 miles of established trails that range from easy rolling terrain at the lower elevation of more challenging peak trails.
When I need to clear my head and get in a solid workout at the same time Mt. Diablo is my go to place. My favorite route is 7.5 miles round-trip that race up 3,700 plus feet of elevation gain starting from Sharkey Road accessed from a turnout by Call Box 16 along Marsh Creek Route that includes a side trip to North Peak that’s 292 feet lower and a lot less traveled.
John Muir — who spent a night at the summit in 1877— said it best when he proclaimed “we are in the mountains and they are in us.”
The mountains are a scale you can weigh a lot of things with to put it in perspective whether it is size, the test of time, the creative power of nature, or the ability at times to see above the clouds.
It’s the only place I can go where it gets my heart pumping when I’m ascending or when I’m simply standing on a summit soaking in the slice of creation that I can see in all directions.
A recent Sunday was my 21st visit and 12th hiking trip that included an ascent of Mt. Diablo from the park boundaries. You can start from several points along Marsh Creek Road as opposed to South Gate, Regency Drive, North Gate, or Mitchell Canyon.
The Sharkey Road Gate assures me minimal encounters of hikers when I’m seeking maximum solitude. It also gives me an intense and compact workout.
On Sunday I came across only three other people. You typically run into twice as many people in an eighth of a mile from any of the other entrances. Yes, the trail was fairly steep and narrow but that was the small price to pay for the solitude and the endless vistas.
The Sharkey Road gate allows you to hit Mt. Olympia first. Although you can do the next two peaks in an order — North Peak and Mt. Diablo — I usually save Mt. Diablo for last.
It was a comfortable hiking Sunday. Despite temps being in the high 40s to low 50s and a dusting of snow at the higher elevations, I was wearing shorts although I definitely was wearing my cold weather hiking gloves.
What is really neat about Mt. Diablo is you can hike it in each of the four seasons and see nature each time in a different light.
When the mountains call as Muir said they do, I prefer heading up to Sonora Pass or Tioga Pass for a day trip if the roads are open.
And while Mt. Diablo can’t match the soaring peaks of the Eastern Sierra in grandeur it makes up for it in the changing seasons you can soak up as you hike.
Mt. Diablo is definitely worth answering the call.