Mt Diablo: White Canyon-Olofson Ridge Trail Hike

Friday, July 22, 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. *1

This hike takes you through White Canyon on Red Rd to Olofson Ridge and Olofson Homestead Site. After just one mile along beautiful, Mitchell Canyon, turn right on Red Road which, incongruously, climbs White Canyon. In springtime, this is the site of rarer wildflower species such as the Mt. Diablo Globe Lily and Wind Poppies. Take sharp left onto Olofson Ridge Trail. and shortly before that starts turning toward the park boundary, follow a faint trail on the left toward the summit marked “1609” on your trail map. Find yourself a perch on one of the cherty outcrops. whitewashed by the presence of fellow raptors, and lose yourself in the world of hawks, kestrels, and turkey vultures. With the awesome chasm of Mitchell Canyon and the massive walls of Eagle Peak as a background, admire the aerial acrobatics of these magnificent fliers – with luck, you may even spot a golden eagle. *2

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.

Turn right at the first trail junction to Murchio Rd, the trail heads west through the lower foothill meadows to Oak Rd junction.

Head south on Oak Rd, the fire road continues west through the scattered oaks to Mitchell Canyon Rd.

At the next junction; turn left onto Mitchell Canyon Rd. The fire road begins on flat terrain along the Mitchell Canyon Interpretive Trail (pick up a trail guide at Mitchell Canyon Staging Area) with ten numbered post along the first mile of the trail. It leads you into the gorgeous shaded oak woodland along the lower canyon area.

The trail continues south along the canyon to the shaded bench at Black Point Trail junction.

Go straight to stay on Mitchell Canyon Rd, it continues uphill to the Y junction at Red Rd.

Turn right onto Red Rd, it climbs up through the sunny section of White Canyon.

Red Rd continues to climb into the shaded canyon to Black Point Trail junction. Go straight to stay on Red Rd, it takes you uphill to the Y junction.

Stay to your left and continue on Red Rd, the road kicks up with a moderate climb to Olofson Ridge Rd junction.

Turn left at the 4-way junction to Olofson Ridge Rd, the trail winds up around the mountain through the scattered pines and chaparral covered slopes with grand views of the surrounding canyons and peaks.

The road continues upwards through the pine woodland to the barb wired gated fence.

Go under or over the fence onto private property and follow the faint trail up to 1733′ at Olofson Ridge.

Enjoy the stunning panoramic ridge top views of the surrounding valleys and canyons!

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Turn around and make your way back down the ridge to the 4-way junction at Red Rd.

Turn left on Red Rd, the broad fire road travels south across the open grasslands to the gated fence at the park boundary.

Go under or over the barb wired gate onto private property and follow the road downhill towards the Olofson Homestead Site at Tenderfoot Flat.

Olofson Homestead Site set around the old Black Walnut tree.

Enjoy the beautiful open valley meadows and grasslands around Tenderfoot Flat!

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Turn around and head uphill back to the 4-way junction at Red Rd.

Go straight and return back along Red Rd through White Canyon towards Mitchell Canyon.

At the trail split, go left to continue on Globe Lily Trail to Black Point Trail. The single track runs parallel to Mitchell Canyon Rd for the next 0.5 mile; during the spring, this trail is saturated with the beautiful indigenous Mt Diablo Globe Lilies and Wind Poppies. Turn right at the Black Point Trail junction to Mitchell Canyon Rd.

Retrace your steps along Mitchell Canyon Rd to Oak Rd.

Return through the oak woodland to the open grassland on Oak Rd and head north across the meadow on Watertower Rd to Murchio Rd.

Murchio Rd turns eastward across the lower foothills to Back Creek Trail.

Back Creek Trail leads back to Regency gate and Mountaire Pkwy.

This hike explores the less traveled northwest region of Mt Diablo through lower Mitchell Canyon and White Canyon up to Olofson Ridge. You’ll see a different perspective from the mountain and enjoy the glorious East Bay valleys and ridges!

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

*2 http://www.mdia.org/site/park-information/activities/hiking/ten-moderate-hikes

Stats:
10.31 Miles with 1733′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1732′
Time: 4.5-5hours
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
NO DOGS ALLOWED

Weather: Sunny & HOT. Temps ranging from the high 60’s to the low 90’s with NW 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, Sportsbasement and on-line at MDIA’s Store.

Directions: Regency Gate > R-Back Creek Tr > R-Murchio Rd > L-Oak Rd > L-Mitchell Canyon Rd > R-Red Rd > L-Olofson Ridge Rd > S-thru gate-follow trail to Olofson Ridge > U-Olofson Ridge Rd > L-Red Rd > S-thru gate-follow trail to Olofson Homestead Site at the Black Walnut Tree > U Red Rd > L-Globe Lily Tr > R-Black Point Tr > L-Mitchell Canyon Rd > R-Oak Rd > L-Watertower Rd > R-Murchio Rd > L-Back Creek Tr > Regency Gate 

Olofson Ridge

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