|Mary Bowerman Trail, Mount Diablo State Park,
California State Parks,
Contra Costa County
0.7 mile loop hike around the summit of Mount Diablo, with excellent views the entire way.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 0.7 mile loop hike is very easy. The entire trail is almost completely level, with just minor elevation changes.
Mostly exposed, with some pockets of shade.
Dirt trail and one paved segment.
Too hot in summer. Best in late winter and early spring.
From Interstate 680 in Contra Costa County, exit Diablo Road (exit 39). Follow the green parks signs: drive east on Diablo Road (turn right at the junction with El Cerro), then turn left at the (stop sign) junction with Blackhawk onto South Gate Road. Drive carefully uphill on this narrow road (watch out for bicyclists) about 7 miles to a stop sign, then turn right onto Summit Road. Continue to the summit, about 4 more miles. Just before the road splits into two one-way segments, park in a small dirt area on the right (or park in the large lot back downhill a few yards).
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, stores, and restaurants back near I-680 in Danville. The park has group campgrounds and individual campsites. Visit MDIA's website for more info.
A few designated handicapped parking spots across from the start of the trail, and the first 0.18 mile of the trail is suitable for wheelchairs. Lots more parking just downhill in a big paved lot. $10 entrance fee. Restrooms, pay phone, and maps a little further uphill at the Summit Visitor Center (a brochure is usually available at the start of the trail). Gas, restaurants, and stores in the town of Danville, near the 680 exit on Diablo Road. There is no direct public transportation to the park. Note: carsick alert! If you or anyone in your vehicle is prone to carsickness, drive very slowly (no more than 20 mph) on the park roads. As there is no optional route to the top, slow smooth cornering may help avoid carsickness.
No bikes or dogs. Horses are technically permitted, but you will probably not encounter any on this trail. The park is open from 8 a.m. to 45 minutes before sunset.
The Official Story:
CSP's Mount Diablo page
Mount Diablo Ranger Station 925-837-6129
This hike is described and mapped in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco, by Jane Huber (yup, that's me, the creator of this website). Order this book from Amazon.com.
Download the park map pdf from CSP's website.
Mount Diablo (& Surrounding Parks) map, published by Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, is invaluable (order at http://www.mdia.org).
Mount Diablo Interpretive Association offers many featured hikes and events that explore Mount Diablo. You can also order maps and books through them.
Save Mount Diablo is a good source of current events on the mountain, including the progress of preservation campaigns.
David Weintraub's East Bay Trails features descriptions of several Diablo hikes, with accompanying maps (order this book from Amazon.com).
Mary Bowerman Interpretive Trail in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View 43 photos from this hike.
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
you've never been to Mount Diablo, the summit is a great place
to start. At the Summit Museum and Store, you can view some educational
exhibits, pick up maps, free brochures with suggested hikes, and the pamphlet
that accompanies the Mary Bowerman Interpretive Trail. Then head downhill
about 500 feet from the summit parking lot to the Mary Bowerman Interpretive
Trail (renamed in 2009 from Fire Interpretive Trail). The 0.7 mile path
(the first portion of which is paved and wheelchair-accessible) is a self-guided
tour that informs visitors about geology and plants, all the while offering
basically the same astounding views as the summit, without the crowds.
After completing the short loop, if you're inspired and immediately ready
for more hiking, you can head out from the summit trailhead to North Peak,
a close to 5 mile out-and-back trek, or head back downhill in your car
to one of the other trailheads off Summit Road and explore some
different perspectives of the mountain.