Summit Up

Hike the Summit Trail for Beautiful Views at Mount Diablo in the East Bay

Mount Diablo Visitor Center in the East Bay

As an iconic Bay Area peak, Mount Diablo looks impressive from afar. But get up close and personal with this mountain to discover its many trails that provide outstanding panoramas of the bay and beyond. The 5-mile out-and-back hike on the Summit Trail is an ideal choice for hikers who want to pack good views into a moderate hike.

Summit Trail rolling hill views on Mount Diablo in the East Bay

Group of hikers taking a photo at the observation deck at Mount Diablo Sate Park

From the Sunset Picnic Area, walk up Summit Road a few hundred feet until Summit Trail appears on the left. This dirt trail leads hikers up to the site of the old Mountain House, an upscale hotel built in the 1870s. Though the hotel has since been removed, hikers can enjoy a picnic with the same view those tourists enjoyed 150 years ago.

Green rolling hills view of Summit Trail at Mount Diablo State Park

At the intersection with Summit Road, cross the street to continue along Summit Trail. The surrounding vegetation bears the marks of past wildfires, a stark contrast to the stunning panorama of the Santa Clara Valley.

Two hikers on a misty trail at Mount Dialbo State Park

Continue along Summit Trail as it crosses Summit Road one last time and enjoy the final stretch of wooded trail before emerging onto the peak. Here you’ll find bathrooms and a visitor center, but the real treat is the view from the observation deck. Over 21,000 square miles of California are visible, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Sacramento to Yosemite. The view is so legendary, it was once proclaimed to be the very best in the world, with one 1874 magazine claiming it “showed more of the earth’s kingdom than is visible from any other known spot on the globe.”

Once hikers have soaked up their fill of scenery, they can retrace their steps down the Summit Trail to return to the Sunset Picnic Area.

The Mount Diablo State Park entrance is located at 2675 Mount Diablo Scenic Blvd., Danville. From Hwy. 680, take Exit 39 to Diablo Rd. Turn left onto Mount Diablo Scenic Blvd. and continue onto S. Gate Rd. Continue to the Junction Ranger Station, then turn right onto Summit Rd. The Sunset Picnic Area is 0.2 mile down the road, on the right. A vehicle entrance fee of $10 will be collected at the front gate. No dogs.

Story and photos by Poe Casavant

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