The peak of Mount Diablo is known for its hundred-mile views—but little-visited North Peak is the real summit to scale. Unlike the main mount, which you can get to by car (or bike), the North Peak can only be reached via a 1.8-mile (one-way) moderate hike. Winter mornings at this 3,557-foot altitude can be chilly, but after rain the views are crisp, clean, and oh-so-refreshing—and even better, you have them all to yourself. The hike traverses a few hundred feet below Diablo's main summit, climbs a ridge, and, at the very end, rises steeply. The view from the top is worth the final push: The land laps like morning tides—rising, cresting, and rolling on out to the Pacific—and San Francisco's skyscrapers spire on the distant horizon. Savor the scenes and snap a self-portrait, then head back the way you came.
Mount Diablo State Park opens at 8:00 a.m. Park at the Devil's Elbow parking turnout (noted by a very small signpost) about .7 mile below the summit. Walk the North Peak Trail heading toward Prospectors Gap. At the Prospectors Gap intersection, continue following the North Peak Trail uphill. The last couple hundred feet of fire road are very steep. Wear good hiking shoes and take your time! No dogs.