Mt Diablo: Winter Falls Trail Hike

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Mount Diablo has a forbidding image to many, in part because of its name. While creeks may dry in summer, the reality is that there are always cool canyons, and even on hot days cool breezes cross upper elevations. On the north side of the mountain are three large, wooded canyons. Because they’re protected from the sun most of the day, Donner, Back and Mitchell Canyons have among California’s best wildflower shows. The waterfalls in the upper reaches of Donner Canyon are icing on the cake. 

In winter (rainy season) and throughout spring, the Falls Trail offers fine views of the mountains most spectacular attraction, several waterfalls up to 100 feet high. Spring also brings astounding displays of wildflowers, and the colorful rock formations are worth the trip at any time. The waterfalls dry up during summer and fall before the winter rains. the hike is not difficult, but some stream crossings are steep and slippery. In winter and early spring, roads at lower elevations may be muddy.*1

Hit the trails in search of the beautiful falls around the mountain’s rugged canyons with a gorgeous hike from Donner Canyon and Hetherington Trails up Cardinet Oaks. Follow the single track Falls Trail along the exposed mountain slopes and enjoy the sounds of rushing water and wonderful views of the falls as well as sweeping panoramic views of Clayton Valley!

*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 and on-line at MDIA’s Store.

5.93 Miles with 1460′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1687′
Time: 3 hours with multiple stops
Hike: Moderate
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-No amenities along the trails

Weather: Sunny, cool and windy with temps ranging from the high 40’s to the high 50s with WSW > NW winds