Mt Diablo: Back Creek-Meridian Pt-Meridian Ridge-Cardinet Oaks-Wasserman-Donner-Hetherington-Donner Canyon Trail Hike

Wednesday, June 15, 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.*1

This hike travels south along Back Creek Trail before turning eastward for a climb up Meridian Point Trail to Meridian Ridge followed by a steep uphill on Cardinet Oaks Rd. Descend the mountain on Wasserman and Donner Trails to Hetherington and Donner Canyon Rd to Regency Gate.

Begin this hike from the end of Mountaire Parkway in Clayton to the Regency Gate Trailhead at the north side of Mt Diablo.

At the first Donner Canyon Rd junction: turn right onto Back Creek Trail and head up the low hill through the oak-studded grassland. The lower foothills have been scorched by a 49-acre grass fire on June 13.

At Murchio Rd junction: go straight to stay on Back Creek Trail. The trail winds along Back Creek through the dense foothill woodlands.

At George Cardinet Back Creek Trail sign-go straight and continue through the lush riparian habitat along the rocky creek.

At Tickwood Trail junction: go straight to stay on Back Creek Trail. The trail narrows as it follows alongside the creek.

At Meridian Point Trail junction: turn left onto Meridian Point. The narrow single track heads east as it continues uphill to Meridian Ridge.

Enjoy the glorious chaparral-covered mountain peaks and canyons!

The trail comes to a T junction at Meridian Ridge Rd, turn left. The broad fire road continues eastward on gentle terrain to Middle Trail junction.

Enjoy the wonderful mountain vistas!

Go straight to stay on Meridian Ridge Rd, it comes to a wide junction at Donner Canyon/Cardinet Oaks Rd.

Continue straight onto Cardinet Oaks Rd towards the Park Boundary, the fire road traverses around the mountain through beautiful stands of madrones before coming to a creek crossing.

The road kicks up with a steep climb to the Falls Trail junction.

Enjoy the grand views!

Stay on Cardinet Oaks Rd, it continues with a steep climb up to Wasserman Trail junction.

At the junction, turn left onto Wasserman Trail. The gentle downhill travels along the northerly slopes of the mountain through the dense brush and stands of pines and manzanitas.

Wasserman Trail drops down through the lower grassland area to Donner Trail junction.

At the trail junction, turn left onto Donner Trail to Hetherington Trail. It travels across the open grassland before weaving around the lush riparian woodland along Donner Creek.

The creek crossing leads to the Hetherington Trail junction.

Turn right onto Hetherington Trail to Donner Canyon north. The trail continues along the creek to Donner Canyon Rd.

Turn right onto Donner Canyon Rd, the fire road heads north along the creek through the oak-studded foothills to Regency Gate.

This is a wonderful scenic loop around the northerly section of Mt Diablo from Back Creek up to Meridian Ridge. You’ll enjoy the glorious chaparral-covered mountain peaks, canyons, and valley views!


5.39 Miles with 1381′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1389′
Time: 2.5-2.75 hours
Hike: Moderate with steep climbs
Parking: Free street parking at the end of Mountaire Parkway in Clayton.
No facilities & no water. Descend steep trail to the park gate below.
Bring water & food/snacks-Water & restrooms at Mitchell Canyon Staging Area

Weather: Partly cloudy and cool. Temps ranging from the low to high 60’s with brisk SW winds

*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 selected retail map distribution stores such as REI and on-line at MDIA’s Store.

Directions: Regency Gate > R-Back Creek Tr > L-Meridian Point Tr > L-Meridian Ridge Rd > S-Cardinet Oaks Rd > L-Wasserman Tr > L-Donner Tr > L-Hetherington Tr > R-Donner Canyon Rd > S-Regency Gate

Meridian Ridge Cardinet Oaks

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