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Wildflower Wonderland At Black Diamond Mines Natural Preserve

Location : Antioch, CA

Parking : Black Diamond Mines Natural Preserve parking lot

Trail type : Loop

Trail Length : 4.8 miles

Elevation Gain : 1145 ft

Difficulty : Moderate

Trails traversed : River View Trail > Stewartville Trail > Carbondale Trail > Saddle Trail > River View Trail

Dogs Allowed? Yes

Post Hike Grub Stop : Numerous eateries in Walnut Creek downtown

Black Diamond Mines Natural Preserve in Contra Costa county is a scenic park featuring beautiful hills, canyons and ridges. Come Spring, the lush green hills are covered with many varieties of wildflowers, with lupines and purple owls clover being the most common. The River View - Saddle Trail loop offers the enthusiastic hiker many picturesque views of the wildflowers covered landscape. We did this hike on March 13th, 2022, when lupines and clover blooms were at their peak. The poppies were starting to bloom at that time and the hills were holding on to their lush green color for one last week.

Parking : Parking at the Preserve parking lot is relatively easy. We found a number of spots available when we arrived at 9am on a Sunday and many still empty when we left at noon. There is a fee of $5 per vehicle to enter the park, but on the day we visited, entry was free as there was no one manning the kiosk. There are clean restrooms available at the parking lot before starting the hike.

The Trail : The entire trail is unshaded and open to the elements. It is best hiked during winter or spring when temperatures are mild. The River View trailhead starts right next to the parking lot. From the parking lot, you can see the trail climbing all the way up to the ridge line and gives you a fair warning for what you are in for for the first half mile.

Steep uphill climb for the first half of a mile

Dont be intimidated by it. Take your time to admire the view and the poppies blooming along the hillside as you trudge uphill. Over the green hills, you can catch sight of the Antioch Bridge in the distance.

At the half mile mark, the trail intersects with Saddle Trail. Stay on River View trail on the right. From here on, the trail mostly consists of rolling hills with gradual incline. A variety of blue, purple and white lupines border the trail, with purple owls clover filling the gaps between the lupine bushes.

The purple and blue colors against the lush green hills make for a stunning sight.

The scenery along this trail is so picturesque that each lupine bush beacons you to take pictures with it!

You will soon reach a gate on River View Trail where it intersects with Stewartsville Trail. Continue on Stewartsville Trail as it goes downhill, with lupine bushes to your left and view of the Lower Parking lot to your right. Turn left at the next intersection to get on Carbondale Trail. The scenery changes suddenly as this trail takes you through a valley of green pastures and fallen trees.

At the four point intersection, turn a sharp left to take the Saddle Trail. Along Saddle Trail, notice a different variety of lupines growing - these grow as a single stem and not as a bush.

This trail gradually climbs upwards with views of cows lazily grazing along the hillside.

At its highest point, Saddle trail meets River View Trail which will take you steeply downhill, all the way back to the parking lot.

This hike is not to be missed if you are interested in chasing wildflowers. Although predominantly lupines and purple owl clover, the park offers many other wildflower sightings set against an eye-popping backdrop. Providing a great leg workout, this hike comes highly recommended for hiking and wildflower enthusiasts alike, primarily during springtime.

Below are a few more pictures I captured during this memorable hike.


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