Marsh Creek-Morgan Territory-Mt Diablo South Gate

Saturday, March 28, 2015

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This clockwise loop starts from the Pleasant Hill BART Station and goes around the foothills of Mt Diablo from Marsh Creek Rd to Morgan Territory Rd. Complete the ride with a climb up to the Junction Ranger Station at Mt Diablo via South Gate Rd.

Exit the BART station onto Jones Rd and cross over Treat Blvd on the Iron Horse Trail Bridge to the Contra Costa Canal Trail.

Continue east on the Canal Trail for the next 3.3 miles to Treat Blvd in Concord.

Head east on Treat Blvd and meander through the residential neighborhoods on Turtle Creek Rd, Ayers and Academy Rd.

Cross Ygnacio Valley Rd from Alberta Way and continue on Pine Hollow Rd to Old Downtown Clayton. Main St rolls through the Old Downtown area of Clayton with The Grove anchoring a corner of this small community.

Continue SE on Marsh Creek Rd through Clayton’s neighborhoods, schools and parks to the outskirts of town. Clayton is located around the foothills of Mt Diablo with grand views of the mountain-WOW! The road exits through town pass the ranches and farms towards Rodie’s Feed.

Marsh Creek Rd has three small climbs leading up to the summit at Divide Reservoir; it’s 0.9 mile with gradient ranges of 7-10%. CAUTION-watch traffic! The sweeping descent on Marsh Creek Rd leads to the turn onto Morgan Territory Rd.

Morgan Territory Rd runs 14.7 miles from Marsh Creek Rd to the opposite end at Manning Rd in Livermore. The climb up to the Regional Preserve from Marsh Creek Rd is 9.3 miles. The road begins on flat terrain with superb views of Mt Diablo!

The lower section of Morgan Territory goes through “horse country” with multiple estate horse ranches and training facilities.

The road continues on gentle terrain around the foothills of Diablo through the farms and ranches to the open meadows and drops down to the cattle ranch with the wooden red barn.

From this point, the road changes from a two lane road to a single narrow lane. It winds its way through the canyon with several narrow bridge creek crossings. The road gradually tilts up with grades of 5-8%.

At the “Entering Morgan Territory Regional Preserve” sign, the climbing continues under the gorgeous shaded woodlands with dappled sunlight.

The road snakes in and out of the shade with views of the dense woods surrounding Black Hills.

The last couple of miles on the upper section of Morgan Territory leading to the summit of Black Hills have numerous switchbacks with steep 9-15% grades!

As you near the top, the road drops down for a short bit followed by a steep climb out of the woods to the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve.

Stop for lunch at the Regional Preserve.

Morgan Territory Rd continues for another 0.4 mile to the actual summit with grades of 4.5-6%. The road runs along the top of the ridge through a small ranching community with acreage homes and ranch lands.

This descent can get very fast-proceed with caution as there are many blind turns on this narrow single lane road! The views dropping down into Livermore are stunning!

The road straightens out for the flat run out to Manning Rd.

Continue west through the flat valley on Manning to Highland Rd.

Highland Rd is a quiet back road with minimal traffic; the rolling terrain cuts through the valley with beautiful views of the gentle hills and wooden barns to Carneal Rd.

The road continues on for the next three miles through the back country with  horse ranches, equine training arenas and hillsides dotted with grazing cattle, horses and old wooden barns.

Continue north on Camino Tassajara; this road has a fair amount of traffic with a minimal shoulder area-watch traffic! Camino Tassajara rounds the bend and enters the suburbs along the outskirts of the Blackhawk community.

Turn right on Blackhawk Rd and continue through Green Valley along the tree-lined gated neighborhoods around Blackhawk.

Turn right onto Mt Diablo Scenic Blvd; this road climbs up along the private community of Diablo pass the Athenian School towards the South Gate Entrance into Mt Diablo State Park.

From the South Gate Entrance, the climb up to the Junction Ranger Station is 5.7 miles with an average grade of 5%.

South Gate Rd weaves around the chaparral covered mountain with spectacular valley views. I always like to look behind my shoulders to see the winding road from behind-WOW!

The road continues snaking its way up the side of the mountain and levels out when you round the curve to the South Gate Entrance Station.

From the kiosk, it’s 3.1 miles up to the Junction Ranger Station. South Gate Rd descends under a canopy of trees towards the sandstone formations at Rock City.

The road continues to drop down pass the picnic areas surrounding Rock City before tilting up again for the climb up to Curry Point.

The climbing continues and makes its way in and out of the woods to the open ridge line with phenomenal views of the expansive grasslands along the upper slopes to the summit above and the fantastic valley views below.

The last half mile up to the Junction Ranger Station has grades of 7-9% with steeper pitches of 10-11%!

Descend North Gate Rd and exit through the North Gate Entrance to Oak Grove Rd.

Follow the bike route from Walnut Ave to El Divisidero and go around the neighborhoods on San Antonio Dr to San Carlos Dr. Continue along the Canal Trail from Heather Farm Park and return to the BART station on the Iron Horse Trail.

This is a fantastic hilly loop around the foothills of Mt Diablo! You’ll enjoy the quiet remote back roads and scenic vistas on the way up South Gate Rd!

Garmin Stats
61 Miles with 4856′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1957′
Max grade: 15%
Terrain: Hilly with a few steep climbs

Weather: Sunny and warm with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the high 50’s to the low 78’s with NW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Morgan Territory Mt Diablo

Follow this route for today’s ride:

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