moss covered rock wall

Mount Diablo: Jackass Canyon-Oyster Point Hike

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

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This is an exploration of some of the least visited parts of the park. Riggs Canyon is a mysterious Shangri-La, a deep valley of unspoiled wilderness, ringed by sandstone walls and weirdly eroded spires. The scenery along the way to your destination is constantly changing and is a source of unending delight. The final climb to the Oyster Point ridge and its wonderful vistas is cross-country; watch out for poison oak. (http://www.mdia.org/site/park-information/activities/hiking/ten-demanding-hikes)

Begin this hike from the Morgan Territory Rd Trailhead at the State Park pedestrian gate-go straight to the first road junction.

At the Morgan Creek Trail/Morgan Ridge Rd junction: go straight and continue on Morgan Creek Trail. The fire road climbs up through the woodland along the creek.

At  the Jeremiah Creek Trail junction: turn left to stay on Morgan Creek Trail. The road winds up from the creek to the upper grasslands.

At the Highland Ridge Rd junction: turn left on Highland Ridge Rd to Park Boundary. The road goes SE as it gently weaves in and out of the dense oak woodlands.

At the Crestview Rd/Highland Ridge Rd junction: turn right and continue on Crestview Rd. The fire road climbs up along the grassy hillside with wonderful views of the rolling hills and sandstone formations.

At the Crestview Rd/Amphitheater Trail junction: turn right and continue on Amphitheater Trail. The trail drops down on a single track across the grasslands and open meadows towards Riggs Canyon. The meadows and slopes are abound with a wonderful display of purple vetches!

At the Amphitheater/Walnut Trail junction: turn left onto Walnut Trail. The narrow single track trail continues west towards Riggs Canyon with a gorgeous finding of the rare Mt Diablo globe tulip and other wildflowers.

Continue down the sandstone trail out to the thick grasslands.

At the Old Finley Rd junction: turn left onto Old Finley Rd to Finley Road Gate. The trail heads south as it winds around the grassy hills to the T junction.

At the Riggs Canyon Rd junction: turn right and continue on Riggs Canyon Rd. The trail drops down into the canyon to the next junction.

At the Jackass Canyon/Riggs Canyon Trail junction: turn left onto Jackass Canyon Trail. The single track trail cuts across Riggs Canyon as it goes in and out of the grasslands and woodlands.

At the Jackass Canyon Trail junction: turn left to stay on Jackass Canyon Trail to End of Trail. The single track trail drops down to the creek crossing into Jackass Canyon.

The trail exits the riparian woodland to the open grasslands towards the State Park Boundary.

At the State Park Boundary/Oyster Point Trail junction: turn right and continue on Oyster Point Trail. Oyster Point Trail heads west through the gorgeous shaded woodlands along Jackass Canyon.

This section of the hike has a beautiful display of wildflowers!

Oyster Point Trail continues through the woodlands out to the open grasslands around the State Park Boundary.

The single track trail continues across the grassy hillside before entering back into the woods.

There’s more wildflowers!

Oyster Point Trail leads you back into the dense forest through some beautiful old growth trees.

The single track trail continues along the gorgeous shaded canyon with a glimpse of the sandstone walls in the far distance. Oyster Point Trail cuts out to the open grasslands before re-entering the canyon.

Enjoy the wildflowers!

There is no trail that leads up to Oyster Point-you have to climb cross country to reach the summit. Pick an open spot along the hillside and start climbing. Make your way up through the tall grassy slope to the ridge.

Turn around and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding hills and rocky sandstone mountains!

When you reach the top, turn left-head east and make your way through the trees along the ridge towards Oyster Point.

You’ll come upon the low wall of moss-covered rocks-they’re absolutely beautiful! Continue under the trees and brush to Oyster Point.

Arrive at Oyster Point at 2106 feet!

Enjoy the spectacular views! The summit is a Miocene sandstone hogback, where you may perch on a rocky throne of your choice to view the glorious panorama of San Ramon and the Bay Area beyond, and, in the opposite direction, the wilderness of Jackass Canyon far below. (http://www.mdia.org/site/park-information/activities/hiking/ten-demanding-hikes)

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Exit Oyster Point and make your way east through the trees and brush along the ridge-there is no trail.

Enjoy the beautiful wildflowers!

Take in the glorious mountain views!

Continue along the ridge.

Find an open slope area and descend cross-country to get back onto Oyster Point Trail.

Turn right at Oyster Point Trail and retrace steps back through Jackass Canyon.

At the State Park Boundary-go straight to stay on Oyster Point Trail.

At the State Park Boundary/Oyster Point Trail junction: go straight to stay on Oyster Point Trail. The trail cuts across Riggs Canyon before exiting out to the open grasslands-it leads to the old abandoned farm house.

At the Oyster Point Trail/Old Finley Rd junction: turn left and continue through the grassy hillsides along Riggs Canyon.

At the Sulphur Spring Trail/Old Finley Rd junction: go straight to stay on Old Finley Rd-the trail leads back to the Walnut Trail/Old Finley Rd junction-go straight and stay on Old Finley Rd.

At the Old Finley Rd junction: go straight on Old Finley Rd to Park Boundary. The fire road trail gently winds up the hill with a small pocket of Mt Diablo globe tulips and Bush monkey flowers.

At the Amphitheater Trail/Old Finley Rd junction: go straight to stay on Old Finley Rd. The fire road continues up around the grassy hills.

At the Tassajara Creek Trail junction: go straight to stay on Old Finley Rd.

At the Old Finley Rd junction: go straight to stay on Old Finley Rd.

At the Jeremiah Creek Trail/Old Finley Rd junction: go straight to stay on Old Finley Rd. The trail winds down the hill to the State Park Boundary Gate.

You can see Mt Diablo and Ransom Point from the far distant!

At the trail gate: turn right onto the unmarked trail along the fence line-it leads back to the Morgan Territory trail head.

This is a wonderful hike around the least visited area of Mt Diablo State Park. The trails less traveled takes you through the gorgeous remote woodlands, canyons and grasslands. You’ll enjoy the quiet calm of nature’s beautiful landscape and the colorful displays of wildflowers! To see what I see-put on your hiking boots and hit the trails!

Wildflowers seen on the trails: blue witch, purple veitch, woolly sunflower, chinese house, rigid betony, blue dicks, serrated onion, blow-wives, ithuriel’s spear, silver puff, california buttercup, broadleaf filaree, rose clover, bellardia, yarrow, bush monkey flower, mt diablo globe tulip, yellow star thistle, silver lupine, california buckeye, true baby stars, sunflower, purple sanicle, white/pink morning glory, white larkspur, field mustard, miner’s lettuce, bull thistle, blue-eyed grass, woodland star, royal larkspur, white nemophilia, fiddleneck, spring veitch, purple owl’s clover, bedstraw, wind poppy, mule’s ears, turkey tail mushrooms, woodland pea and western wallflower.

*The use of a trail map is essential. The current edition “Mount Diablo Trail Map” is available for purchase at the park entrance stations, Summit Visitor Center and Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center in Mt.  Diablo State Park. They are also available at REI and on-line at MDIA’s Store.

Stats:
10.1 Miles with 2802′ of elevation gain
Time: 5.25 hours with a couple of stops
Hike: Challenging with steep stretches and cross-country sections up to the ridge and on the descent.
Weather: Cool and breezy with partly cloudy skies. Temps ranged from the mid 50’s to the low 70’s with strong W winds.
Parking: On Morgan Territory Road heading toward Livermore, about four and-a-half miles from Marsh Creek Road junction, just 0.4 miles beyond the two narrow one-lane bridges. There is a corral on the left side of the road, opposite the State Park pedestrian gate. There is a little space to park, but do not block the road gate – it is used by inholders. No facilities.
*Bring plenty of water & food/snacks. No facilities/water on these trails.
No Dogs Allowed

Oyster Point