So a cool and breezy Friday morning put my family on trail for this epic Mt. Diablo loop.
You need to get creative about park access because the parking areas are closed, along with amenities. Find your way onto Oak Trail and begin what will amount to a solid day of climbing up – more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain. If you want a bird’s eye view of Clayton unfolding before your eyes, set a course for Mitchell Rock.
Mitchell Rock Trail winds its way up and out of the sprawling meadows that surround Mt. Diablo on the Clayton side. The hike to Mitchell Rock is an easy jaunt that puts you on top of the world in a very short time.
After a tasty side trip up a rock or two, stay on Mitchell Rock Trail as you forge into Uncle Sam Canyon. On this favorite section of trail, you flank high up along the hillside until you make a series of switchbacks – ultimately topping out just below Twin Peaks. This meadow of sorts is an awesome spot for a leg stretch.
More views to remember
Then double back and head into some rocky terrain and shady trail until you reach Twin Peaks at 1,733 feet. Twin Peaks offers views like no other in this area, with Clayton and beyond as well as views of Mt. Olympia, North Peak, the summit and a network of trails scattered across the hillsides.
Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and some snacks and always be prepared for a change in weather. Some of the hilltops are very exposed, and conditions can change quickly.
The push up to Eagle Peak via Eagle Peak Trail follows the spine of a ridge for a good portion of the route. There are many stops along the way, especially if you are looking for a sporadic rock scramble onto something that wouldn’t meet your mom’s approval. But that’s the beauty of nature away from parking lots in Mt. Diablo State Park.
Options for the return trip
It’s a bit of a hustle up the final stretch to Eagle Peak, but with the prize in sight, it was a semi-grinduro up to our goal at elevation 2,369 feet. There’s a book to sign, but we were out of hand sanitizer, so we took a picture and a much-deserved break before heading down.
You are left with three choices: Head down the way you came via Mitchell Rock, head down Eagle Peak Trail or continue toward Murchio Gap and then down Back Creek Trail. I wanted to tackle Back Creek, but the kids were out of gas, so we picked Eagle Peak Trail all the way back down.
This is a bit of a tricky trail with an off-camber pitch, lots of loose gravel, but shade almost the entire way down. An exposed section below Twin Peaks offers another perspective on the enormity of these volcanic rocks.
Once down the mountain, we linked onto Coulter Pine Trail enroute back to our starting point and felt the satisfaction of logging more than 6.5 miles and more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain. The entire loop took us about four hours, but our moving time was more like three.
Smile, be cool to your neighbors and go to nature, my friends.
Hit the Trail
- Where: Eagle Peak
- Trails: Oak Trail, Mitchell Rock Trail, Eagle Peak Trail, Coulter Pine Trail
- Distance: 6.55 miles
- Elevation Gain: 2,073 feet
- Time: 4 hours (3 hours moving time)
- Trailhead: Mitchell Canyon Staging Area
- Closures: Staging area and parking lot currently closed; trails open
Contact Kevin Parker with comments or questions by email at LukeHollywood@gmail.com