My last full day in California, on this trip. I still had my rental car, so I decided on an easy seeming day trip to Mt Diablo, which was close by Concord. After having spent twelve days in Hawaii, and then having visited the Muir Woods the day before, I was not expecting to be blown away. From the distance, anywhere in Concord, Pleasant Hill or Walnut Creek, one can see Mt Diablo, so its presence was quite noticeable as I came back to Concord each evening. And actually I was pleasantly surprised and quite content to have made it my day trip.
The drive up to the summit is moderately spectacular. The mountain is 3800 ft high, so not massive, but it is rising out of a near sea level plain, so the drive to the summit took two hours (I followed the slow speed limits). On the way up, I stopped at least half a dozen times, because mysterious vistas would jump out as I rounded the next bend. The mountain is very dry in September, but there is a beauty in its desert-like landscape. Plus there are more plants than you would expect from a distance. The road is incredibly winding and filled with curves, so make sure the driver is focused and alert.
Getting to the top is interesting too. There is a nice visitor center tucked under an observation deck. You will be surprised how the visitor center’s exhibits keep going. The observation deck provides some phenomenal views of the Bay Area. It was hazy, so I could not see San Francisco, but I saw Napa Valley to the north, plus you are able to have a broad 360 degree view of everything. Pretty awesome! There is also a little store in the visitor center, open from 10 to 4. So you can buy snacks and extra water if need be. It would probably be best though to bring a picnic and lots of fluids (it is very dry).
Then I sat for a little while, as is my habit when I am on a mountain top. I wanted to see what the Native Americans felt when they were up there just 100 years ago. I didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary, but I did see lots of vultures and crows. They congregated around an emergency tower. Next I opted to go for a hike.
I hiked down from the summit toward where the north and south gate roads came together. I did not have a lot of water, so I just hiked a couple miles down, and then enjoyed the hike back up. When hiking, at least in the summer, be careful as there were many small lizards on the trail, which are camouflaged and difficult to see. Plus you may see some insects with bizarre coloring. I was particularly impressed when I came across a black and white grasshopper. How fascinating!!
The park woman in the gift shop told me the best time to come up there is the late spring when the wildflowers come out. I will have to take her advice! The trail map showed a hike near some falls, but I’m assuming that would be in a wetter season. Actually there were many trails up and around the mountain which I will have to explore in the future.