Mt Diablo: Junction-Summit-Green Ranch-Moses Rock Ridge-Deer Flat-Juniper Trail Hike

Friday, May 20, 2016

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*At the eastern fringe of the San Francisco Bay Region, Mount Diablo, elevation 3,849 feet, stands alone on the edge of California’s great Central Valley. At this point, the Coast Range consists only of low hills, none high enough to block the view from the upper slopes of the mountain. As a result, the view is spectacular. Elevations in the park range from 300 to 3,849 feet. This wide range of elevations creates broad variations in temperature, rainfall and wind exposure that have resulted in a wide variety of plant life on the mountain.

This Mt Diablo trail hike traverses NE from the Junction to the Mountain House Site, Old Pioneer Horse Camp, and Green Ranch Site. For a little-added adventure, it includes a scramble up towards Indian Ceremonial Spring for a glimpse of a lesser known waterfall. Continue west along Moses Rock Ridge and return SE on Deer Flat Rd and Juniper Trail.

Begin this hike from the Junction Trail picnic area off Summit Rd.

Head east on Junction Trail; it cuts through the chaparral-covered hillside to the T junction at Summit Trail.

Wildflowers!

Turn left onto Summit Trail for a brief stop at the Mountain House Site.

Continue north on Summit Trail to the Chert/Franciscan Complex interpretive panel.

Wildflowers!

The trail continues uphill to the Graywacke interpretive panel. *The weathered rock outcrop is a type of sandstone. It is composed of a mixture of dark, angular rock and mineral grains. 

Summit Trail climbs upwards to the junction at Juniper Trail.

Go straight to stay on Summit Trail; it exits onto Summit Rd.

Turn slightly right and cross Summit Rd to stay on Summit Trail. Go straight at the Oak Knoll/Green Ranch Rd trail post and cross the gate onto Summit Trail.

At the Summit Tr/Green Ranch Rd junction; go left to stay on Summit Trail.

Gorgeous colored wild grass and wildflowers!

Grand views!

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Summit Trail climbs up to a high point through the chaparral-covered hill to the water tank at Old Pioneer Horse Camp.

Veer right at the round about towards the picnic area.

At Green Ranch Rd junction; go left onto Green Ranch. The broad fire road heads east on a gentle rolling descent through charred scattered oaks and pines from the 2013 wildfire.

Wildflowers!

Enjoy the beautiful vistas!

The trail drops down through a gorgeous canyon area along a seasonal creek.

Enjoy the lush riparian habitat with climbing wild grape vines, morning glories, and golden monkey flowers!

Other wildflowers!

The fire trail continues on a gentle downhill.

At the Oak Knoll Trail junction; go left to stay on Green Ranch Rd. The rolling terrain continues winding down around the mountain to Mt Diablo’s North-South Meridian.

Wildflowers!

The trail arrives at Green Ranch Site at 2440 feet.

Wildflowers!

Take the time to explore the area and check out the remnants of the old campsite. There’re a few free standing brick walls with fireplaces, the foundations of some buildings, a swimming pool, a sports area with a basketball and tennis court and water tanks.

Wildflowers abound!

Retrace your steps back on Green Ranch Rd towards Summit Trail.

Hike option: if you’re up for an adventure, exit the trail and go for an uphill scramble in search of a lesser known seasonal waterfall.

Wildflowers!

Gorgeous flowing waterfall!

Continue the cross country scramble around rocky outcrops, high grass and spotty chaparral shrubs.

Enjoy the spectacular views!

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Wildflowers!

Traverse west across the mountain side towards Green Ranch Rd.

Make your way across the dense riparian landscape.

Drop back down onto Green Ranch Rd and reverse your way back to Old Pioneer Horse Camp.

At the Green Ranch Rd junction; go left to stay on Green Ranch Rd, it winds down around the mountain from Old Pioneer Horse Camp to Summit Rd.

Turn right and continue on Summit Rd to Diablo Valley Overlook at Juniper Campground Area.

Enjoy the stunning valley views!

Turn left towards Juniper Campground followed by an immediate right through Laurel Nook Picnic Area to Juniper Trail. It continues uphill through the gorgeous woodland to Moses Rock Ridge junction.

Wildflowers!

At the trail junction, turn left onto Moses Rock Ridge to End of Trail; it’s a scenic gentle rolling stretch along the top of the ridge.

Enjoy the glorious panoramas of Diablo Valley and beyond!

Brief stop atop of Moses Rock.

Spectacular panoramas!

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Continue northwest along the ridge to the next high point.

Enjoy the spectacular vistas of Diablo’s peaks and ridges!

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Wildflowers!

Stay along the rolling ridge and scramble downhill to Deer Flat Rd.

Turn left onto Deer Flat Rd; the broad fire road turns southward towards Juniper Campground to Juniper Trail.

Wildflowers-beautiful Mt Diablo Globe Lilies and clarkias!

Turn right onto Juniper Trail; it continues south through the chaparral-covered slopes to an open clearing area below Diablo Valley Overlook.

Enjoy the panoramic views!

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Stay on Juniper Trail; it crosses the upper grassy meadow to the memorial benches.

Wildflowers!

Juniper Trail continues across the grassy slope before cutting through the dense mountain brush.

The trail becomes a single track as it traverses the mountain side to the “View From Juniper Trail” interpretive panel.

Wildflowers!

Juniper Trail continues southeast along the grassland before dropping through the shaded woodland.

The trail exits onto a wide open gravel area.

Stay on Juniper Trail, it continues downhill through dense brush to the Summit Trail junction.

Turn right onto Summit Trail and retrace your steps back to Mountain House Site and Junction Trail.

Turn right onto Junction Trail for the return to the Junction picnic and parking area.

This hike explores the old Mountain House and Green Ranch sites from a by-gone era along with a mountain scramble in search of a waterfall. You’ll enjoy the spectacular vistas and the late blooming wildflowers around Mt Diablo!

*http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/517/files/mtDiabloBrochure.pdf

Stats:
7.15 Miles with 2027′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 3180′
Time: 4.5 hours with multiple stops
Hike: Challenging with steep climbs
Parking: Mt Diablo-Junction Trail parking/picnic area off Summit Rd
Parking Fees Apply-pay at entrance kiosks
Water & restrooms available at the Junction Ranger Station
Bring water & food/snacks
NO DOGS ALLOWED

Weather: Mostly cloudy, cool and breezy. Temps ranging from the high 50’s to mid 60’s with brisk W winds

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Green Ranch (2)

Direction: Junction Tr parking/picnic area off Summit Rd > R-Junction Tr > L-Summit Rd > X-Summit Rd > L Summit Tr > L-stay on Summit Tr > R-Green Ranch Rd > Green Ranch Site > U-Green Ranch Rd or Scramble uphill towards Indian Ceremonial Spring to view waterfall >scramble downhill to Green Ranch Rd > L-stay on Green Ranch Rd > R-Summit Rd (pavement) > Laurel Nook Picnic Area > R Juniper Tr > L-stay on Juniper Tr > L-Moses Rock Ridge Tr > S-Scramble downhill on faint trail to Deer Flat Rd > L-Deer Flat Rd > R-Juniper Tr > at open clearing area > S-Stay on Juniper Tr > R-Summit Tr > R-Junction Tr > Junction Tr parking/picnic area

Green Ranch

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