Best (and Craziest) East Bay Climb 

From Base to Summit on Mt. Diablo

If you happen to climb Mt. Diablo by accident, keep a few things in mind. First, bring plenty of water. Second, bring snacks. Third, the final shot from Prospectors Gap to the summit is a lot farther than it looks. Having said all that, this is a challenging hike and well worth it any time of the year. Terrain varies from grasslands to blue oak, madrone forest, undulating outcrops, and horizon-wide views. If you are lucky you might run into a passel of amorous tarantulas out looking for love in late summer. Start by parking at the end of Regency Drive off Marsh Creek Road, where it dead-ends at Donner Creek. Stroll through the live oaks along Donner Canyon Road and perhaps note the ruins of homesteaders' property framed by daffodils. The fire road gets steeper and the soil turns orange-red, and Clayton, then Walnut Creek, spread out beneath you. Follow the sharp zigzags to the Falls Trail, where even now you may still see water trickling down the hill. Butterflies swoop and little nests of green grass and wildflowers still hang on desperately. By now you can see the Delta. Follow Falls Trail to Middle Trail and turn right up the vertical hill until you hit Prospectors Gap. Wheeze your way up as the Sierra becomes visible behind you. At Prospectors Gap, once the red mist clears from your eyes, you get a view south to Mission Peak and can almost see the ocean. Press on to the top to get a real sense of accomplishment, jellied legs, and water refills. You made it.

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