Well Rounded

Written by: Weekend Sherpa

Hike the Grand Loop at Mount Diablo in the East Bay

Epic views, fields of flowers, and ridgeline thrills offering one of the biggest views in the West: Hiking the Grand Loop at Mount Diablo State Park in spring is eye-candy, with reams of poppies and more than 200 miles of California landscape rolling to the snowcapped Sierra.

Head out on a challenging 8.5-mile (round-trip) hike around the East Bay’s tallest peak. The hike is a true thigh-burner with substantial uphill stretches, so be sure to bring lots of energy, and water!

Start at the Juniper Campground parking area on the wildflower-laced Deer Flat Road. Enjoy panoramas from San Francisco to the Farallons, 30 miles offshore.

Descend the trail and make a right on Meridian Ridge to begin the first steep ascent, to the signed spur trail of Eagle Peak. This less-traveled trail is a great adventure on a cool spring day—scuttling and scrambling to the summit, where views burst in all directions—from the Delta and Suisun Bay to Diablo’s North Peak. Return the way you came and continue your loop on Prospector’s Gap Trail. The good news: Parts of Prospector are delightfully shaded. The not so good news: Prospector can kick your butt! It’s a tough haul to the top, but it leads to a grand finale.

The North Peak Trail is one of the most spectacular stretches in the Bay Area, cutting along the mountainside with poppies currently on parade and views sweeping from the far-off Sierra to San Francisco Bay. Hulking boulders en route make good perches for taking it all in. Finish by heading up Summit Trail and across Summit Parking Area to follow Juniper Trail back to your car. Loop du jour!

*Note: Several parts of this trial are exposed and get firecracker hot in summer, so we recommend hiking it in spring and getting an early start. The trail gets steep in parts, so wear good shoes. Park at Juniper Campground off Summit Rd. There are two paved roads; walk down the one on the right to Deer Flat Rd. Continue on Deer Flat Rd. for 1.5 miles until Deer Flat. Go right on Meridian Ridge Rd. Continue for a mile to the Eagle Peak sign. After the side-trip, continue on to Prospector’s Gap Trail. Go right, up the North Peak Trail, then hike up Summit Trail, cross the Summit Parking Area, and Juniper Trail back to your car. No dogs.*