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The Best East Bay Spring Hikes

Try these three scenic Mount Diablo treks this spring.


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The Amphitheater’s view and grinding holes.

By Dereck Love

The new Hiker’s Guide to Mount Diablo State Park ($18, mdia.org) features 50 hikes, with notes on wildlife, elevation gain, and difficulty. It’s penned by those who know the mountain best: the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association. Here are three of the association’s favorite hikes.  


 

Easy

Camp Force Overlook
0.7 miles round-trip
You’ll find this short and narrow out-and-back trail—named for Boy Scout leader Raymond Force and his troop—just past Rock City at the Curry Point pull off. Look for the crumbling Boy Scout stoves where the troop used to camp. The trail ends at an overlook; bring binoculars to scan for rock climbers scaling the face of Gibraltar Rock directly across the canyon, as you breathe in the scent of blooming manzanita trees and red Indian warrior flowers.

 

A bobcat sighting on the Bruce Lee Spring Trail. / By Bill Karieva

Moderate

Clayton Oaks Road, Bruce Lee Spring Trail
3.1–mile loop
Stroll through the rolling hills behind Clayton for views of endless grassy meadows, North Peak, and the summit of Mount Diablo. At the end of Regency Drive in Clayton, just beyond the large metal gate to your left, follow Donner Canyon Road along the creek to Clayton Oaks Road on the left. This wide dirt path crosses the creek (get ready to rock hop) and heads uphill, but the views are worth the trek. Look for deer in the meadows as well as spring wildflowers: The first poppies start blooming as early as February. Take the brushy Bruce Lee Spring Trail to Hetherington Trail—loaded with violets, owl’s clover, and milkmaids—before completing the loop.  

 

A stove on the Camp Force Overlook trail. / By Mike Woodring

Strenuous

The Amphitheater
4.3–mile loop
Named for the large basin formed by surrounding cliffs and rocks, this hike is just off Morgan Territory Road, and offers views down into the basin and out over Mount Diablo and the Delta. Start at the Morgan Creek Road trailhead in Clayton. Follow it to Jeremiah Creek Trail, and take a right, then go left onto Old Finley Road. After half a mile, take a left up onto Amphitheater Trail. Here, you will find large mossy rocks with Native American grinding holes. This isolated trail also looks out into the basin, which is filled with centuries-old oak trees. Finish the loop with a left onto Crestview Road and another left onto Highland Ridge Road, which leads back to Morgan Creek Road.

 

Map It Out

Pick up a water-resistant map of Mt. Diablo State Park, featuring new trails and park landmarks. $7.50, mdia.org.

 

Mount Diablo manzanita. / By Kevin Hintsa

Blooming Beauties

On the mountain, look for these plants that are unique to our region.

1. Mount Diablo fairy lantern.
2. Mount Diablo sunflower.
3. Mount Diablo manzanita.

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