Mt Diablo: Curry Canyon-Chase Pond-Hidden Pond-Knobcone Point-Balancing Rock Trail Hike

Thursday, April 11, 2019

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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.

You are invited to explore some of the mountain’s most attractive environments, some not all that well known, along trails that are not particularly difficult. The ultimate purpose is to open up your pleasure to some of the hidden beauty spots on the mountain.*1

The trails up to the twin Chase Ponds are well marked at intersections. The first section down Curry Canyon Road passes through a beautiful, shaded strip of riparian vegetation. A turn onto Frog Pond Road opens up rolling grasslands with some of the finest display of massed wildflowers in the spring. Just beyond Chase Pond, the road turns uphill and becomes quite faint — follow it until it meets Mountain Springs Creek, where an old cow-crossing facilitates the climb up the opposite bank. Now turn back and walk cross-country in the general direction of Hidden Pond. Easily spotted among the grassy knolls, Hidden Pond is one of the mountain’s beauty spots — a peaceful, lonesome pond, the quiet waters reflecting overhanging branches, the great mountain looming up behind. A short cross country jaunt brings you to Frog Pond Road for the trip back. *1

Begin this hike from Curry Point off South Gate Rd at Mt Diablo.

Go straight on Curry Canyon Rd to Park Boundary. The fire road rises gently along the hillside to the next junction at Knobcone Point Rd.

Stay on Curry Canyon Rd, it drops down through the shaded riparian woodland to Sheepherder Springs Trail junction.

At the next trail junction, go left onto Frog Pond Rd to Frog Pond. The road continues along the creek before exiting the woodland out through the open meadows.

Enjoy the display of wildflowers!

Frog Pond Rd winds through the gorgeous oak woodlands to Chase Pond Rd junction with glorious wildflowers abound!

Go straight onto Chase Pond, the fire road continues with an gentle uphill climb with gorgeous expansive views of the rolling hills and canyon.

Enjoy the brilliant wildflowers!

Chase Pond Rd meanders through the gorgeous canyon meadows before heading downwards to twin Chase Ponds.

Arrive at Chase Pond at 1800 feet.

Continue on Chase Pond Rd, the rolling hill leads to the End of Road towards the open clearing.

Enjoy the displays of wildflowers!

Follow the faint cattle trail past the wild pig trap down towards Mountain Springs Creek.

Cross the creek and make your way up the embankment and hike cross-country heading eastward across the grassy meadow towards Hidden Pond.

Arrive at Hidden Pond. Easily spotted among the grassy knolls, Hidden Pond is one of the mountain’s beauty spots — a peaceful, lonesome pond, the quiet waters reflecting overhanging branches, the great mountain looming up behind. *1

A short cross country jaunt downhill along a faint cattle trail leads you eastward onto Frog Pond Road. Turn right onto Frog Pond, it heads southward towards Curry Canyon. Watch your footing crossing the culvert at the washed out section of the road.

Enjoy the spectacular displays of poppies carpeting the surrounding hillsides!

Frog Pond Rd leads back to Chase Pond Rd junction.

Turn left to retrace the route back on Curry Canyon Rd to Knobcone Point junction.

Turn left onto Knobcone Point Rd. The broad fire road meanders north of Black Hawk Ridge past Sycamore Creek Rd junction to Mt Diablo Meridian post. Enjoy the spectacular south views of the mountain!

Go straight to stay on Knobcone Point, it continues through the shaded woodland up towards the park boundary with wonderful views of the stunning sandstone landscape!

Knobcone Point Road follows the crest of the tilted strata of Domengine sandstone, culminating with the teetering wall known as Balancing Rock. This feature has been faithfully reproduced on a full scale and forms the display focus at Walnut Creek’s Lindsay Museum. *1

Continue on Knobcone Point to the park boundary gate. Enjoy the spectacular sandstone formations!

Turn around on Knobcone Point Rd for the return to Curry Point.

This is a great springtime hike with some cross-country sections to the gorgeous hidden spots around the southeast section of Mt Diablo. You’ll enjoy the stunning display of wildflowers and the beautiful dense riparian canyon landscape to the spectacular sandstone landscape! Strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails!

9.24 Miles with 2042′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1898′
Time: 4.52 hours with multiple stops
Hike: Moderate with some cross-country
Parking: Paved parking pull-out at Curry Point, South Gate Road. No facilities.
Parking fee apply-pay at the entrance kiosks
Currently $10, Senior 62+ is $9
Bring water & food/snacks
Weather: Cloudy with partial afternoon sun. Cool and windy with temps ranging from the low-mid 60’s with WSW > NW winds
Directions: Curry Point > L-Curry Canyon Rd > L-Frog Pond Rd > L-Chase Pond Rd > R-cross country > X Mountain Spring Creek > cross country to Hidden Pond > cross country to Frog Pond Rd > R-Frog Pond Rd > L-Curry Canyon Rd > L-Knobcone Point Rd > Balancing Rock > U-Knobcone Point Rd > S-Curry Canyon Rd > Curry Point