This beautiful state park located 45 minutes outside of San Francisco is an expanse of green rolling hills in the spring and yellow in the fall. It provides camping, hiking, and staggering vistas all in its over 19,000 acres of land. While I am by no means an expert on the area, here are some of my favorite places to explore. The cost to enter this park is $10, and it is well worth it (as of 2016, when I wrote this post). Let’s explore some of the best places in Mount Diablo State Park.
Here is a video I did on my recent trip in 2022. Check it out to see all of the park’s best spots from the south entrance to the summit and read on for my first visit where I went in from the north entrance.
This post starts from the north entrance and heads up to the split and to the summit before coming down and out the south entrance.
If entering from the north entrance, this will be the first point of interest you will see. While there aren’t any signs for it, you will know as soon as you see it. Often with sculptures like this, I can’t understand why the name is what it is, but this one is pretty obviously a turtle. A fun little stop for the whole family right off the road.
Lookout Picnic Area
There are a lot of picnic areas in this park, but my favorite is the Lookout Picnic area. About two miles from the top, it has a couple of small benches with massive views. I could eat here often as it is very peaceful and there is only a couple of parking spots so it can’t get too busy.
Located at about 2,800 feet, the Juniper Campground has one of the best views I have ever seen from a campground! If you get a parking spot, you can wake up to a fantastic vista and just sit and relax there for the sunset. Easily worth the 30 dollars a night fee and one of my favorite campgrounds for a view in California.
Mt Diablo Summit
By far the reason to visit this park is the summit, they say that it’s the 2nd best place on earth at which you can see the most land from the top. The first being Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa. While that statement has been disputed a lot, you can’t argue with how epic the view is from up here. There is also a visitor center open from 10 AM to 4 PM a couple of days out of the week, but it wasn’t open when we were there.
If you are in for some hiking, you can head over to North Peak. The photo above is the view of it from Mt Diablo. The hike proceeds down from the summit to a single track that winds around and down to a saddle.
There is a lot of fire damage in the area as well (in 2016, now it has regrown), which is sad to see, and when you reach the saddle, you still have a ways to get to the peak.
From the saddle, the road is an old dirt path that is pretty well maintained as it heads up to the top of North Peak, which offers equally stunning views of the surrounding area.
If you are feeling ready for another hike, at the top of North Peak, you can take a single track down to Mt Olympus.
My friend Zac climbed this mountain as well and echoed that the views to the north are stellar, but you can see pretty much the same view from North Peak, as Mt Olympus is lower.
On the way down, or up if you come in from the south entrance, do not miss Rock City. There are so many fun things to climb here and unique rocks to see, many of which have small wind caves forming in them. I didn’t spend a ton of time here, but this could easily be a half-day adventure for a family with some younger kids.
I saw on the map that there are waterfalls here. If anyone has a picture of them, feel free to send it to me, and I will credit you in this post.
All in all, Mt Diablo is an amazing place to escape the city for a day or a weekend. It is beautiful year-round and provides a ton of adventures. Leave a comment below letting me know your favorite spot here.