New Mount Diablo trail connects Knobcone Point to Riggs Canyon

New Mount Diablo trail connects Knobcone Point to Riggs Canyon

Rocky cliffs in the Knobcone Point area of Save Mount Diablo’s Curry Canyon Ranch. (Scott Hein photo)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Mar. 19, 2023) — On March 29, Save Mount Diablo (SMD) will officially open the Knobcone Point to Riggs Canyon trail connection.

This section of trail winds through the upper 560 acres of Mount Diablo’s Curry Canyon Ranch. The area remains one of Mount Diablo’s wildest areas. It travels from Balancing Rock and Knobcone Point, to Cave Point, to Windy Point and Riggs Canyon.

Before the proliferation of cattle fencing, the public could access the trail which ranged all over the mountain. But it’s been nearly a hundred years since it was legal.

The 1.25-mile trail will expand the amount of open space available to explore on Mount Diablo’s southern hills. It will effectively fully connect Rock City and Mount Diablo to Riggs Canyon, Morgan Territory and Los Vaqueros via publicly accessible trails.

Canyon entrance

New Mount Diablo trail connects Knobcone Point to Riggs Canyon
Riggs Canyon Trail. (Scott Hein photo)

Curry Canyon is the final missing major canyon entrance to Mount Diablo. Curry Canyon Ranch has more than nine miles of fire roads, most of which will continue to be closed for now, while SMD works with California State Parks to transfer much of the property to the park.

Currently, Mount Diablo State Park visitors must climb in and out of four canyons from Rock City to Riggs Canyon. Going forward, they can follow a ridgeline with spectacular views.

Right now, state park staff must leave the state park to reach Riggs Canyon. Opening the ridgeline fire road on SMD’s property will solve this access and management issue.

In preparation for the grand opening, SMD’s staff and volunteers have been installing infrastructure, including access gates and informational signage. They have also been removing dead material to minimize fire risk in the area. Getting rid of dead and scorched plants in this area will encourage new growth of native and endemic wildflowers and chaparral plants this spring.

This project has been a decade in the making, in the works since SMD acquired the 1,080-acre Curry Canyon Ranch property in 2013.

Curry Canyon Ranch contains what was the largest remaining unprotected canyon on Mount Diablo’s main peaks. It harbors distinctive habitats, including knobcone pine forests and a mile of rocky cliffs.

“Thanks to our terrific supporters, staff, partners and volunteers, like our Trail Dogs, Save Mount Diablo has created and opened a number of public trails the last two years,” said Ted Clement, SMD’s executive director. “All these trails we have built are portals that allow the public to enter nature and be transformed for the better.”

Majestic views

The highly anticipated Knobcone Point trail connection will further open up opportunities to enjoy Mount Diablo’s majestic views and wilderness. Visitors can immerse themselves in the knobcone pine forests. Stunning sandstone rock formations will impress. They may see golden eagles and songbirds fly overhead.

A trail opening ceremony will take place on the property at the Knobcone Point gate near Balancing Rock. Organizers scheduled it for 11 a.m. March 29, weather permitting. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at Curry Point in Mount Diablo State Park on South Gate Road for the approximately two-mile hike. Park entrance fee costs $10, and Curry Point has limited parking.

After the ceremony, staff will lead a hike to the Riggs Canyon gate. The hike from the Knobcone Point gate to the Riggs Canyon gate covers 1.25 miles.

In the event of heavy rain, the trail will still open to the public on March 29, but organizers will cancel the ceremony.

SMD is a nationally accredited, nonprofit land trust founded in 1971. They strive to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, watersheds and connection to the Diablo Range.

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