Eye of the Tiger

Visit Concord’s Elaine Schroth shares how to train like a pro on Mt. Diablo

With 3,849 feet of elevation, Mt. Diablo made an excellent training ground for my much-anticipated trek through Utah’s Zion National Park earlier this month. From nearby Concord, I ventured out on two dozen or so of the 250 named creeks, canyons, trails and springs that make-up the more than 20,000 acres of spectacular Mount Diablo State Park. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Rock City, Wind Caves and Sentinel Rock. This is my favorite 8-mile roundtrip hike I do with friends and family since I moved out to the East Bay in the 1990s. I start at the Macedo Ranch trailhead in Alamo through Summit Trail, and enjoy a rolling uphill climb with plenty of great views, including Sentinel Rock. The caves are unexpected and fun to explore. The downhill on the return trip makes it an easy 3-hour exploration. 

Rock City and Sentinel Rock

2. Mitchell Canyon – Eagle Peak Loop. From the Mitchell Canyon entrance, I ventured out on the 14-mile loop and gained 2,500 feet of elevation during the all-day hike. It was hot, so I brought plenty of water, snacks and then thoroughly enjoyed the serenity of the view and the mountains. 

Mitchell Canyon Loop

3. Waterfall Trail. Not far from downtown Concord, the main trailhead on Regency Drive in Clayton leads to an amazing year-round 7.9-mile hike. You can’t beat the breathtaking views, wildflowers and waterfalls with a 1,200-foot ascent. The uncrowded trail made a pleasurable hike to explore with my daughter. We also made sure to stop by Parma Deli for a hearty sandwich after the 3-hour adventure.

Waterfall Trail

4. Summit Trail. I had to get to the top, right? It’s a great way to practice your endurance, as it can be warm without shade along the way. I loaded up on water and snacks, as well as some jazzy tunes to enjoy the mountain – with plenty of interesting birds, foliage and few, occasional fellow hikers.

Summit Trail

So, how did I do? Starting at 4,000 feet above sea level in the City of Springdale, UT, the additional 1,500 – 2,000 feet gain of elevation led to great hikes on Angel’s Landing, Water Canyon and Canyon Overlook Trail. And don’t forget the 1000-foot walls as I walked for miles through the Narrows Trail. All in all, Mt. Diablo State Park is truly a Northern California gem in my own backyard - as well as an exceptional “training mountain” as I venture on to other parklands.

Overlook Trail, Utah
Water Canyon, Utah
The Narrows, Utah