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Waterfalls of Mt.Diablo

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

Location : Mt.Diablo State Park, Clayton, CA

Parking : At Mitchell Canyon Visitors Center Parking Lot ($6)

Trail type : Lollipop loop

Trail Length : 8 miles

Elevation Gain : 1788 ft

Difficulty : Moderate - Strenuous

Trails traversed : Mitchell Canyon Road > Oak Road > Coulter Pines Trails > Bruce Lee Road > Back Creek Trail > Meridian Ridge Road > Middle Trail > Falls Trail > Donner Canyon Road > Tickwood Trail > Back Creek Trail > Bruce Lee Road > Coulter Pines Trails > Oak Road > Mitchell Canyon Road

Pro Tip: Wear ankle length hiking boots and carry hiking poles.



Winter is a great time to visit Mt.Diablo, especially after the Bay Area has been drenched by a series of heavy rainfall. During this time, the park wows its visitors with a number of stunning waterfalls and gorgeous vivid green scenery. The waterfall loop in the park is made up of a series of trails as listed above. Due to a huge network of trails within the state park, folks are sure to lose their way if they dont use AllTrails or a similar app for navigation. Even with AllTrails, we missed a few turns and had to retrace our steps a couple of times. Another tip is to wear sturdy, waterproof hiking boots and carry hiking poles, as the trails are very muddy and slippery after the rains and there are a number of streams to cross along the way.

Muddy trails demand sturdy, waterproof hiking boots! And hiking poles!

 

>> Got a question about this hike that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.

 

Parking: You need to self register for parking with $6 fee (bring exact change) at the park entrance gate. There is also an option to pay by phone using a QR Code. Clean restrooms are available at the trailhead and parking is plenty.

The Trail : The trailhead starts at Mitchell Canyon Visitors Center. It starts off very steep, then flattens out. The first 1.2 miles of the hike takes you over rolling hills, through open, green meadows with views of Ygnacio valley in the distance.

Jaw dropping views!

The red trail stood in stark contrast to the green meadows


The trail follows a creek on the left and the sound of the water flowing next to you is music to the ears. At the1.2 mile mark, you reach the first of 6 waterfalls. The first waterfall is small and is more like a gurgling brook. But dont lose heart. There are bigger and better things to come!

Waterfall #1

The trail soon becomes narrow as it starts climbing upwards. As you continue trudging forward, you hear the waterfalls in the distance, at time very loud. At 3.6 mile mark, you come across the second waterfalls, which is multi-tiered over Donner Creek, with different view points along the trail. Use your hiking poles to balance over the rocks to click some wow-generating pictures of the falls. At this point, if you are lucky, you may also see clusters of ladybugs on rocks and branches.

Waterfall #2


Falls 3, 4, 5, 6 come in quick succession of each other, within half a mile of Falls 2, and require crossing streams at multiple points by climbing over rocks and stones. The trail gets steep and slippery as you navigate your way across and around these falls.

Waterfall #3


Waterfall #4

Waterfall #6

After mile 4, the route finally starts going downhill. Falls Trail soon becomes Donner Canyon Road. At around 5.5 miles, there is an outcrop of rock as the trail bends slightly. You will not miss this spot. This is a great place to take a break and enjoy a quick lunch as you gaze at the jaw dropping view of the East Bay valley on one side and Waterfall #5 on the other.

Waterfall #5

Continue down on Donner Canyon Road until it intersects with Tickwood Trail. Tickwood Trail was my most favorite part of the hike. It meanders through a lush green forest, so quiet that you can hear the twigs crack under your feet.

The lush green forest along Tickwood Trail


Taking a breather!

This Trail connects back to Back Creek Trail from which you can backtrack your way, past Waterfall #1, past the green, open meadows, all the way back to the parking lot.

 

>> Got a question about this hike that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.

 

In summary, this hike was a great workout with views prettier than any the other East Bay trails have to offer. The beauty of this trail is short lived, so go check it out before the water dries out and the green turns into the infamous California brown!

This blog is sponsored by Viking Bags

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