Mt. Diablo

Description: Mt. Diablo, west of Walnut Creek, is the closest of the three big mountains in the Bay Area. Mt. Tamalpais in Marin is 2,571 ft, Mt. Diablo is 3,849 ft, and Mt. Hamilton near San Jose is 5000 ft. It has been claimed that on the clearest of days the landmass viewable from the summit is second only to Mt. Kilimanjaro which peaks at over 19,000 ft. Some people have reported seeing Half Dome in Yosemite, Mt. Lassen and the Faralon Islands (35 miles past the Golden Gate) from the summit of the mountain.

Whatever the view from the top, climbing Mt. Diablo is a challenge. There are two roads into the state park which meet at about 2000 ft above sea level (Ranger Station); one road from there leads to the Summit. There is water at the Ranger Station and at the Summit. The climbs are Tunnel, Mt. Diablo and Wildcat. The descents are North Pinehurst and Mt. Diablo. Mt. Diablo probably has the most patrolling police of any of the routes, and they will ticket speeding cyclists. Besides, the beautiful scenery coming down is too blurry at full speed! The following route description ascends South Gate and descends North Gate. The return to Berkeley is via Half Happy.

Distance: 76.89 miles
Climbing: 8381 ft.
Difficulty: Hard
Time: 5-6 hrs.

Mt. Diablo Map

Mile 0.0 - Sproul Plaza to Tunnel Road.

Mile 6.34 - Skyline and Grizzly Peak. Continue straight on Skyline past Grizzly Peak.

Mile 8.03 - Skyline and Pinehurst. Turn left on Pinehurst and descend the windy road.

Mile 12.02 - Turn left on Canyon Rd. The walking man sprint is just on the other side of the hill.

Mile 14.17 - Turn right on St. Mary's Rd. This is a nice, fast road, but as with many roads in this area, it is heavily trafficed.

Mile 17.35 - Turn right at a stop sign on Woodview Rd., then left at the Y ahead onto Glenside Rd. There is a steep descent on this road that ends in a stop signs. Be on the brakes.

Mile 18.41 - STOP at the stop sign, then turn right onto Olympic Blvd.

Mile 19.53 - Turn right on Tice Valley Rd.

Mile 21.41 - Turn right on Crest Ave. after a short downhill.

Mile 21.69 - Forced left on Hillgrade Ave.

Mile 22.21 - Turn right on Danville Blvd.

Mile 23.64 - Turn left on Stone Valley Rd. After passing under 680, we start making our way to the base of Mt. Diablo.

Mile 26.75 - Turn right on Green Valley Rd.

Mile 27.37 - Turn left on Diablo Rd.

Mile 28.41 - At the Y, go straight (not right). Up ahead, it is possible to head left into the neighborhood and reach the climb by cutting through a yard. In fact, it's arguably the nicer way to go. But, we'll go the official way past the Athenian school.

Mile 28.74 - Forced right onto Avenida Nueva.

Mile 28.82 - Turn left on Blackhawk Rd.

Mile 29.00 - Turn left onto Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd. This is the start of the South Gate climb (elevation 570 ft). Start your watches as you pass the Athenian School. Fast climbers can reach the summit from there in under an hour. This climb really is fantastic. It's reasonably graded the whole way up (except for 200 meters at the top) and the panoramic views are breathtaking.

Mile 32.58 - South Gate (elevation 1500 ft). This is the entrance to Mt. Diablo State Park and it means you're one third of the way up.

Mile 35.67 - Ranger Station (evelvation 2200 ft). Some rides stop here and descend, as this is the point where the North Gate and South Gate roads meet. The road to the summit gets steeper from here. The last 200 meters are especially nasty. It's essentially a 13% grade cowpath up to the parking lot on top.

Mile 40.03 - Summit (elevation 3800 ft). By this time, you've climbed 3239 ft. in 11 miles. Enjoy the views from the top before you embark on a long descent.

Mile 44.32 - Back at Ranger Station. Head right to descend North Gate Rd., the nicer of the two descents. Right after ranger station, there are a series of switchbacks, then it's fast and curvy the rest of the way down.

Mile 50.47 - North Gate. This is the North entrance to the park.

Mile 52.17 - Turn right on Castle Rock Rd.

Mile 52.25 - Turn left on Walnut Ave. at the roundabout.

Mile 53.27 - Turn left on Las Lomas. Note: the route back through Walnut Creek involves bike paths, sidewalks, parking lots, and general voodoo and trickery. Following these directions is likely to get you lost so go with someone who knows the way.

Mile 53.53 - Turn right on San Carlos Dr.

Mile 54.27 - Turn left on Los Cerros, which followed to the end will put you on a sidewalk/bike path and pop you out on La Casa Via.

Mile 54.68 - Turn left on Montego.

Mile 55.30 - Tricky. Turn left onto the sidewak of Ygnacio Valley, ride one block, then hop off and turn left on Homestead Ave.

Mile 56.15 - Turn right on Walker Ave. (becomes Mt. Diablo Blvd)

Mile 56.49 - Turn left on San Miguel.

Mile 57.00 - Sharp right onto Newell.

Mile 58.20 - Turn left on Olympic Blvd. This is on the way back from Fruit Stand.

Mile 59.72 - When you reach the T-intersection, go straight onto the bike path.

Mile 60.12 - Turn right off the bike path at the first opportunity, then left onto Olympic Blvd.

Mile 60.80 - Turn right on Second St. then left ahead on Mt. Diablo Blvd.

Mile 61.58 - Turn right on Happy Valley. This way back is called Half Happy because it goes halfway up the backside of Happy Valley Rd. (Although you'll find this climb anything but happy at this point.)

Mile 64.28 - Turn left on Sundown Terrace. This is halfway up the steep part of Happy Valley.

Mile 64.71 - After a couple of speed bumps, turn left on Daewood Dr.

Mile 65.12 - Turn left on Lombardy Ln. after a short downhill.

Mile 66.16 - Lombardy Ln. merges with Miner Rd.

Mile 67.19 - Turn right on El Camino Pablo.

Mile 68.36 - Turn left on Wildcat Canyon for the familiar return to Berkeley.