Sunday, November 1, 2015

Park review: Mount Diablo from North Gate

I want to share a bike-and-hike route I just discovered. It's autumn and the hills are deep in quiet. I looked for amorous tarantulas, but didn't spot any.

From Pleasant Hill BART Station, follow the little signs to Iron Horse Trail. You have to cross Treat to what looks like a driveway. You can also take the spectacular pedestrian bridge over Treat.

Keep heading south, away from BART until the first trail crossing. Turn left onto Contra Costa Canal Trail. It's well marked and there are few street crossings before Bancroft. This is a major street with generous bike lane most of the way; turn right onto it. It's a long, straight shot to a small roundabout. Bikes easily use the sidewalk, on which we're allowed at this intersection. Turn right, then left onto North Gate Road to Mount Diablo. This leads all the way to the summit.

I prefer to pull off at any of a handful of trailheads and hike. It's hard to find a post narrow enough to fit a U-lock around, though. There are group campgrounds most of the way to the summit.
Lovely lichens on a pock-weathered rock face
The hills along this first section of North Gate are mostly exposed. To find trees you will have to head south to Barbecue Terrace Trail and the like. Instead, my legs got a workout climbing Burma Trail north of the road. Descent the same way was worth avoiding -- I looped up to Juniper and Summit Trails. Still, 2000+ feet gain got me a cooling breeze and a sense of accomplishment!

Right now water is turned off due to drought. This is a major obstacle to my being able to camp there! Enjoy your park explorations.
I think I found emu tracks.

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