Mount Diablo State Park, Clayton, CA - April 2014

A close friend of mine recently moved from Temecula up to the Bay Area and I drove up there to visit her in April. It had been years (so sad!) since I'd spent the whole day hiking so we planned a day mile hike at Mount Diablo State Park.

Here's where we were:

We entered through the South Gate and the ride up the mountain was beautiful but I was glad I wasn't the one driving. Besides the sheer cliff on our right we had to be aware of cyclists in front of us riding up the mountain as well as those coming down (at very fast speeds!).

I used one of the day passes I received as part of the California State Parks Foundation membership, but usually there is an entrance fee.

We got a general map at the entrance, but decided to drive up to the visitor's center at the summit to buy a proper trail map. The views from the summit are beautiful! We could see the Sierras as well as San Francisco (through the fog) and some of its bridges.

Bridge in the distance

After speaking with some park staff we decided to hike Mount Diablo's Grand Loop which is 6.5 miles and circles the peak. We had a little bit of difficulty finding the trail head, but once we did the trail was well marked and easy to follow. When I hike outside of LA I am always delighted by how green everything is.

I loved this citizen science initiative to help them document the regrowth after a recent wildfire.

I thought I had missed taking a wildflower trip this spring so I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of wild flowers we saw - many that I had never seen before. Here are a few.

Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum)

Biscuitroot of some sort (Genus Lomatium)

Red Larkspur (Delphinium nudicaule)

Grand Hound's Tongue (Cynoglossum grande)

Henderson's Shooting Star (Dodecatheon hendersonii)

Checker Lily (Fritillaria affinis)

Indian Warrior (Pedicularis densiflora)

Indian Paintbrush (Genus Castilleja)

Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)
Once we got to the western side of the loop we sat and ate some sandwiches and took in the views. There was this interesting quarry (or something) and some hang gliders who I kept thinking were hawks. I want to hang glide here!

At some points, the poppies covered the hillsides . .

I also couldn't get over how fresh everything smelled. As we passed by different plants we'd smell tarragon, juniper and sage. It was incredibly relaxing.

The drive from LA to Concord was a bit longer than I first thought it would be and I was only able to stay for the weekend, but it was worth it to spend time with a close friend out in nature, away from all of life's distractions, just being.

More photos in my Flickr set here:

Oh yeah, and this is my 100th post!