I have hiked Mount Diablo three times. My most recent hike up was my third time hiking the mountain. Growing up, I lived in Concord, CA and I could always see Mount Diablo from my window. At an elevation of 3,849 feet, this is the tallest mountain in the Bay Area so of course I had to hike it!
It is rumored that on a clear sunny day you can see all the way to Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome from the summit, so I had to test this theory to see if it was actually true. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear enough to see all the way across the San Joaquin Valley but we did get a glimpse of the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe to the east along with Mount Lassen to the northeast. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating sight to behold.
Mitchell Creek to Mount Diablo Summit
Recently, we hiked Mitchell Creek to the top. There are several routes up to the summit of Mount Diablo but this one was the most direct approach. The hike was 13 miles round trip with about 4,700 feet of elevation gain. You can stop by Eagle Peak at 2,369 feet to soak in panoramic views and reward yourself with a snack while reflecting on the progress you have made so far. Once you reach Eagle Peak, this means you are halfway up Diablo.
We started at the parking lot of the Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center. Parking here requires a fee of $10 which you can pay at the entrance. We finished the hike at the same spot which made this hike an out and back trail of about 13 miles. You can also do it in the form of a loop and finish at the same spot. This will add an additional two or three miles to your trek.
It took us five hours of moving time to complete this hike but I would say give yourself a full day to do it. We traveled light and fast and our cardio was pretty good. This is a strenuous hike but it can definitely be finished in a day. Make sure you get an early start and are carrying headlights if you start off late in the day. Overall, this hiking trail is fairly easy to follow.
My favorite aspect of this hike is the fact that it has such great prominence so close to the Bay Area. Mount Diablo is easily seen from San Francisco. Its prominence puts this mountain in a unique spot so you can see it with the naked eye from anywhere within 150 miles – pretty cool if you ask me!
Views from the Mount Diablo Summit
The views from the Mount Diablo summit are awesome, with a cool viewing deck to enjoy. Bring binoculars to gaze off into the distance to spot landmarks like the Salesforce Tower in the San Francisco Bay Area! There is also a cool visitor’s center at the top where you can stand on the official summit of Mount Diablo, as well as check out other exhibits and infographics that go into detail about the geology of Mount Diablo.
It was a sunny day when I last went but there was a thick haze in the air from the pollution so we couldn’t see off into the distance towards the south. However, overall the views are great. It is best to do this hike after a weather system clears the air pollution – that way you get the best views.
How Hard is the Hike up Mount Diablo?
This is a strenuous hike considering the 4,700 feet of elevation one must climb to get to the top. I think this could be suited for casual hikers who are looking to challenge themselves with a full day hike. The elevation isn’t considered alpine terrain so acclimatization is not generally required.
For a family of hikers, I would take into account everyone’s fitness level and make a decision accordingly. It’s a doable hike but mental determination is a very important factor in attempting a strenuous hike like this one.
Need to Know Before you Go
I would say that proper hiking shoes with ankle support are vital for this since there are steep sections. The last thing you want is to sprain your ankle and get airlifted off the mountain. Both La Sportiva and Colombia make great shoes. I have linked to the ones that I use for your reference.
Also, carry enough water. On a hot day you will use up your water quickly on this trail. I would recommend at least four liters so that you don’t run into any issues. There are no places to filter water along the way. You can buy water at the visitor’s center once you get to the summit but it is pricey. I also suggest mixing electrolytes in your water – this will help keep you hydrated along the way. Above I have linked to the hydration mix that I use.
Best Memories of this Mountain
My best memory from Mount Diablo was when I flew my drone off the summit. The views were incredible. Also, I hiked this trail with two really good friends of mine so the friendship element was definitely there as well. Life is about making lasting memories with friends and family – hiking is a great way to remember the good times you spend with people you cherish.
That being said, don’t forget to take that summit photo from the top! If you have any further questions about the Mount Diablo summit hike, feel free to contact me on my Instagram account @sertanusanmaz. Happy trails!