Mount Diablo (CA)

January 9, 2022


San Francisco, CA

Mt. Diablo is probably the most popular peak in the Bay Area with a paved road running all the way to the summit where a lookout tower is located. This peak is the highest in the vicinity with over 900 m prominence. Most tourists simply drive to the top but hikers can walk to the summit from various stages on the access road. The access road does have a gate hour so the summit is only accessible in daylight time. Earlier in the day I had bagged Loma Prieta and Copernicus Peak before having a catch-up with my high school friend in the city of San Jose. By the time I drove out of the restaurant I only had about 2.5 hours of daylight so I had to hassle a bit. I followed Google’s direction to the south side access road. The gate was at about 2/3 of the way up and I stopped to purchase a ticket. I thought about to just drive to the summit, but decided to park a few kilometers from the top and walk the rest. I was not doing particularly good on time, but there was still enough time to do some hiking.

Mt. Diablo short walk via west ridge. GPX DL

I parked near Juniper Campground and easily picked up the well-trodden trail onto the upper west ridge. The trail was rather boring but offered intermittent views of the Bay Area. The trail brought me to a higher switchback of the access road, which I crossed. I then walked into a large parking lot but that’s not the uppermost parking lot. The summit was not far away from this point. I had to ascend some staircases on the lookout structure to find better views. There were too many tourists on top probably all having COVID so I did not linger any longer than absolutely needed. I did not even ask someone to take a picture for myself.

A view of the lower slopes from partway up the access road
This is a view from where I parked the truck on the upper west ridge
Picking up the well-defined trail system
Looking back at the parking lot and you can even see my Taco …
The late afternoon sun through the trees
The vegetation in the California coast was quite unique.
The summit ahead was rather dull and uninspiring
Looking back towards a subsidiary bump
Another hiker that I passed on the route
Just about to cross that upper road, looking back
Panorama from just below the summit of Mt. Diablo. Click to view large size.
The North Peak in the foreground
The dusk horizon behind another bump in foreground
The lookout tower on the summit…
This is a southern view from the true summit

I rushed down from the man-made tower and found a spot with some solitude for a bit of resting, then proceeded the descent following the same route. The sunset was earlier than expected and I barely got back to the truck before dark. I took a long break at the truck to gather some strength for the long drive ahead. The goal was to push north to at least Redding but I was hoping to push to Mt. Shasta village. It turned out that I only barely managed to Redding and I was so spent that I needed one hotel stay. I spent about 90 USD for the night.

Already started the descent at this point. One more picture of the dusk horizon
Entering the forest. I almost needed the head-lamp on the trail

The next day, Day 22 in this peak-bagging trip I woke up naturally and pushed all the way back home. I received the negative test result just about to enter the state of Washington, and subsequently pulled over to fill in the ArriveCan form. Rain finally hit when I drove through Seattle and eventually I got back to the border crossing at 11 pm. The traffic delay was zero, but of course the border guard would give me a “randomly chosen” take-home PCR test in addition to the one I just had three day earlier. This one was free, but pain in the ass with some lengthy online registration process. I probably had wasted 3 hours in total including sending the sample to Surrey for collection. And of course the result was negative that came out two days later, so what a waste of resource.