Mount Diablo’s Challenging North Peak

North Peak, Mount Diablo

North Peak awaits

 

 

 

 

 

The Nifty Ninety Peak Challenge lists four peaks in Mount Diablo State Park in Contra Costa Country: Mount Diablo, North Peak, Mount Olympus, and Eagle.  We put off climbing any of them until the weather and trail conditions looked promising.

We knew that the views from anywhere on Mt. Diablo could be magnificent, but the mountain could also be socked in. We preferred the views–-which are said to be among the most far-reaching best in the world.  We had been to Mt. Diablo before and we knew that it was possible to see much of the Sierra Nevada–especially nice when the peaks on that range are covered with snow.

Risks?

We had read various hikers’ reviews and knew that North Peak, Olympus, and Eagle were rated “difficult” by some and “challenging” by others. My biggest concern was that I might fall because of the loose rock on the trails during the dry season. I preferred to climg when the ground was damp so that the rock would not roll as easily. Loose rocks can act like ball bearings. 

Ralph and I decided to scout some of them out in December 2018 after some light rains. First we tackled North Peak (3,557 ft. elevation). We reached the Devil’s Elbow trail head after the lengthy drive on a curving narrow road up the mountain side. (We got a parking ticket that we later were able to get dismissed; be sure to display your park pass!)

The trail to North Peak

The single track trail started out relatively flat, curved around the mountain side and then descended somewhat steeply to a wide fire road. We crossed and started the steady ascent up to North Peak. Once at the summit we enjoyed the views, had our lunch and started our descent. Though all went well on the ascent, when turning around from the summit, the initial part was very steep.

Better safe than sorry!

I decided that the safest way for me was to scoot down, crab-like. Ralph, with much better balance than I have, walked down. Hiking poles are highly recommended.

Though I had to do the initial descent mostly on my butt, I was elated that I could do the hike at all–so many of the reviews had been made it all seem quite formidable. For Ralph and me, this was peak #89.

Operating Hours. Gates open at 8 am and close at sunset. Visitors should plan to be in their vehicles by sunset and headed out to avoid being locked in. The Summit Visitor Center is open 7 days a week from 10 am – 4 pm.

Visitors should be aware that there is an entrance fee of $10 per vehicle or a Golden Eagle State Park pass required.

State Park info: click here.

Next up: Mount Diablo’s highest peak and Mount Olympia.