1-2-3 Things – Summiting Mt Diablo

Hello Adventurers!

Did you get out to Muir Woods last week? With the Super Bowl approaching, you might find another great opportunity to visit and avoid some of the parking hassles. It really is a step back in time and we are lucky to still have it and not some reservoir in its place. 

This week’s adventure is another hike to wrap up our New Years resolution month. We are headed to the summit of Mt. Diablo for a short hike and some beautiful views. Over the past couple of years, we've been working on hiking the summits of all the major peaks in the Bay Area, and Mt. Diablo completes our circuit of the major ones, we still have a few minor ones to do. 

I like the idea of focusing on the summit first to get some good immediate gratification, and it affords an opportunity to grab some ideas for further adventures as you survey the area on the way to the summit. You are also bound to pass a ranger station along the way to ask questions, get a few tips, and maybe see if there is a Junior Ranger program available (Mt. Diablo didn’t have one though). 

Our destination today is a little remote, and it’s a popular biking destination. Please take your time driving up the mountain roads - and share the road with others. Enjoy the view and relax. 

Next month we are focusing on a few local historic spots - there are so many to choose from. 

Also let us know if you go, we would love to hear about your trip. Simply reply to this e-mail. And please feel free to forward this to a friend. 

Chief Happiness Officer at kiddiewalks.com
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1-2-3 Things — Summiting Mt. Diablo 

Quick inspiration for a day out with the kids around the SF Bay Area

From kiddiewalks.com

  1. Mt. Diablo Summit & Ranger Station

  2. Identify other parts of the Bay Area from the lookout platform

  3. Hike the Mary Bowerman trail around the summit

Park entry is $10 paid at the gate as you drive in. The day we were there, they were only accepting cash. 

Mt. Diablo Summit & Ranger Station

On the way to the summit, please remember to take your time and share the road. There are a lot of blind curves on your way and the road is a very popular cycling destination. The speed limit through most of the park is 15 mph. So take your time and enjoy the view. 

Once you make your way up to the summit and find some parking, make your way to the edge of the parking lot to enjoy the view. Bathrooms are located down to the right of the Ranger Station as you are facing it from the main parking area. 

You can make your way into the ranger station through the main door at ground level. Here they sell a few assorted souvenirs, some maps and books about the area, and some limited snacks (more geared toward the cyclists). Unfortunately they don't have a Junior Ranger program book, but the ranger mentioned some kind of program they hold once a year that the kids can attend. 

Look for the free pamphlets:

  • The Mary Bowerman Trail
  • The View from Mt. Diablo

Then proceed upstairs to the naturalist center for a quick visit to learn more about the geology and wildlife that live in the area. Be aware that Tarantulas do inhabit the area, but they are some of the coolest spiders anywhere and most likely be more scared of you. The naturalist center also had a nice little seating area and a fireplace to warm up at. 

Identify other parts of the Bay Area from the lookout platform

Being one of the highest points in the area, you have a unique opportunity to see many divergent parts of the Bay Area all at once. The weather here can change fairly rapidly, so if your view isn't great initially give it a few minutes, or maybe go for a hike and try again afterwards. There are lots of spots around the parking area here, or climb the stairs up to the top of the ranger station to the viewing platform. 

On your way up, stop inside the ranger station to see if they have a pamphlet titled "the view from Mt. Diablo". This has a nice overhead view of the Bag Area to help pick out various landmarks, there are bound to be a few familiar ones. 

Hike the Mary Bowerman trail around the summit

As you head down from the Ranger Station through the parking lot, you will see the road split. Go directly into the middle and hike over the mound with the antennas and satellite dishes where you will hit the spot where the road converges again. This is where you will pick up the trail. 

You can go either direction on the loop and end up back here. To follow the brochure though, take a right and cross the street. Keep a look out for numbers on posts along the mile long trail. It’s an easy hike, and there are some spots to sit and enjoy the scenery. The pamphlet points out quite a number of natural and geologic features, and tells you the story about how this used to be on the sea floor and how the seismic shift pushed Mt. Diablo upward to give you what we see today. 


  • You should be aware that tarantula’s are indigenous here. Although they tend to stay in hiding, it’s possible you might see one here. Just remember they don’t bite, and if you’d like to find out more, chat with the ranger at the summit. 
  • Camping spots are available here - I’m curious to give this more investigation. 
  • Rock Climbing is also popular here, although if you want to climb you would need to be experienced and have your own gear. Still it can be fun to go watch. 

Feeling Adventurous 

  • Horseback riding seemed to be available here - I wasn’t able to gather any further information yet. 
  • There are also extensive hikes here on the mountain with fabulous views