Four million tons of “black diamonds” were mined out of Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch. So what remains? A diamond in the rough! Wildflowers are adding sparkle to over 65 miles of trails. Enjoy spring’s spectacle on a 3.5-mile loop through the park’s 158 different wildflower species: Buttercups, three kinds of lupines, and merry blossoms of yellow bush poppies dot a landscape of buckeyes and blue oaks as the trail climbs past views out to Mount Diablo and the bay. After about 1 mile, look for yerba santa and vivid red paintbrush just before a smooth sandstone ledge, the perfect place to rest atop for tranquil views into verdant valleys peppered with ponds. Owl’s clover, blue dicks, and redmaids lead the way to the final descent through lush grasslands and cheerfully chirping red-winged blackbirds. Follow a marked path to the left for a side trip to Rose Hill Cemetery, the historic resting place of former coal mining residents with tombstones dating back to 1865, or continue straight back to the parking lot.
Beginning from the upper parking lot in Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, take the broad multi-use Nortonville Trail and turn left on Stewartville Trail. At the signed junction just before a cattle gate, turn right onto Ridge Trail and follow to the junction. Turn right onto Chaparral Loop Trail, left onto Lower Chaparral Trail, and left onto Chaparral Loop. Bear right at the next signed junction, and turn left onto Manhattan Canyon Trail. Turn right onto Black Diamond Trail. Bear right onto Nortonville Trail and take the signed detour left to Rose Hill Cemetery or continue straight back to the trailhead. When the kiosk is attended, $5 for parking and $2 per dog. Dog friendly!