Mt Diablo: Mt Olympia Trail Hike

Thursday, July 7, 2016

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Mount Diablo State Park is one of the ecological treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area. Every season in the park has its special qualities. Discover them for yourself, from the mountain’s 3,849-foot summit to its beautiful wildflowers, extensive trail system, fascinating wildlife, and distinctive rock formations. 

Mt. Olympia is one of the park’s prime destinations, a rugged outcrop with fantastic views of dizzying canyons, particularly with the mists of winter. The climbs on Olympia Trail and Mt Olympia Rd offers a sequence of gradually expanding views.  The climax view, of course, is from the summit itself. *1

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

Stay on your left to Donner Canyon Rd; this fire road takes you across the lower oak studded foothills along Donner Creek. The road winds gently winds through the woodlands with great views of Diablo’s peaks.

At the Donner Cabin Site junction: go left and cross Donner Creek to the next junction.

At Bruce Lee Springs/Hetherington Tr junction; go right onto Hetherington Trail. It climbs up through the lower woodland area to the junction at Donner Trail.

Turn left onto Donner Trail; it goes slightly downhill through the lush riparian landscape along the creek before tilting upwards across the grassland to Wasserman Trail junction.

At the T junction; turn right onto Wasserman Trail. It continues to climb through the scattered oaks and dense brush with great views of the mountain peaks and canyons.

Stay on Wasserman Trail, it continues uphill through the beautiful manzanitas and pines to the junction at Cardinet Oaks Rd.

Go left on Cardinet Oaks Rd; it climbs up towards the park boundary to Olympia Trail. Enjoy the valley views!

Continue on Olympia Trail, the single track winds up 0.8 mile through the scattered pines and rocky chaparral covered slope to the next trail junction at Mt Olympia Rd.

Enjoy the views!

At the unsigned trail junction, turn right onto Mt Olympia Rd. The broad fire road continues uphill around a few switchbacks to the Zippe Trail junction.

Go right to stay on Mt Olympia Rd, it steadily climbs 0.7 mile up the mountain with expanding views of the valley.

Enjoy the magnificent views!

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The road rounds the bend with a grand view of Mt Olympia in the background.

The fire road kicks up with a steep climb as it continues eastward across the mountain side towards the summit.

Enjoy the wonderful mountain vistas!

The road continues to climbs up on a single track along the rugged outcroppings to the East Trail junction.

Enjoy the gorgeous views!

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At the junction, you can go right to stay on Mt Olympia Rd to the summit or be a little adventurous and climb up the rock formation to Mt Olympia summit at 2946 feet.

Enjoy the spectacular summit panoramas!

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Mt. Olympia, itself, is like a little throne. high above the encircling landscape, where you can sit and observe the puny world below you, and beyond, the great plains of the Central Valley. Be sure to sign the log attached to the Mt. Olympia Summit trail post! *1

Descend Mt Olympia to the North Peak Trail junction. Go straight onto North Peak Trail; the single track trail climbs 0.8 mile south along the rocky mountain slope through brush and woodland to 3297 feet at North Peak Rd.

Enjoy the superb vistas!

At North Peak Rd, turn right and head downhill to Prospectors Gap at 2955 feet.

At Prospectors Gap, turn right and head north on Prospectors Gap Rd. It drops down the mountain on a steep gravelly road for the next 0.8 mile towards Middle Trail-use caution.

Brief detour through the woods along Big Springs at 2073 feet. Exit Big Springs and continue on Prospectors Gap Rd to Middle Trail junction.

Continue north on Middle Trail, the rolling terrain winds down the mountain to the Falls Trail junction.

Go straight to stay on Middle Trail, it continues downhill through chaparral and manzanitas covered slopes to Meridian Ridge Rd.

Turn right onto Meridian Ridge Rd to Donner Canyon Rd.

At Donner Canyon Rd junction, turn left and return through Donner Canyon back to Regency Gate Trail head.

This is a beautiful challenging hike through Diablo’s rugged canyons up to Mt Olympia and North Peak Rd with glorious mountain vistas! Hit the trails and enjoy it for yourself-it’s amazing!

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

Stats:
10.4 Miles with 2828′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 3270′
Time: 6 hours with a few stops
Hike: Strenuous 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
NO DOGS ALLOWED

Weather: Sunny and warm. Temps ranging from the mid 60’s to mid 70’s with 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 > S-Donner Canyon Rd > L-Donner Cabin Tr > R-Hetherington Tr > L Donner Tr > R-Wasserman Tr > L-Cardinet Oaks Rd > R-Olympia Tr > R-Mt Olympia Rd > Mt Olympia Summit > S-North Peak Tr > R-North Peak Rd > R-Prospectors Gap Rd > R-Middle Tr > R-Meridian Ridge Rd > L-Donner Canyon Rd > Regency Gate

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