Sure, the main summit of Mount Diablo offers one of the best views in the state, but if you’d rather hike than drive to a summit, lace up your boots for the mountain’s spectacular—and less-traveled—Eagle Peak. At 2,369 feet, it’s not as high as Diablo’s main peak (3,849 feet), but the 3-mile (one-way) journey to it is much more enticing. Begin on the wildflower-laced Deer Flat Road leaving from Juniper Campground. Follow the trail while enjoying panoramas from San Francisco all the way to the sawtoothed Farallon Islands, 30 miles offshore. Wind down an exposed path and make a right on Meridian Ridge Road. Notice that burn in your thighs? The trail climbs at a fairly steep pitch for a few minutes, but the reward is getting closer. The spur trail leading to Eagle Peak slips, scuttles, and scrambles across narrow Bald Ridge—a knife’s-edge thriller with drop-offs on either side (don’t worry, it’s very doable; just don’t wear flip-flops). This adventurous and fun part of the hike quickly reaches the summit with views bursting in all directions: the Delta, Suisun Bay, and Mount Diablo’s North Peak. Take it in as you take a breather. The Eagle has landed.
BEER + BOOT BONUS: In the shadow of Mount Diablo lies the tiny town of Clayton, where an authentic cowboy saloon awaits your patronage. The Clayton Club Saloon—134 years young—is a rough-and-tumble throwback to the horse-and-buggy days, with cowboy boots worn by many a colorful character hanging in abundance from the ceiling. Belly up to the bar or shoot some pool. Earn extra style points by drinking a beer out of a cowboy boot (BYOB: bring your own boot). Locals and visitors mix it up at this historic watering hole and the folks are friendly. Leather taste buds included.
Park at Juniper Campground and start hiking northwest on Deer Flat Rd. After a half-mile, bear right at the first junction to stay on Deer Flat Rd. After another mile, you’ll reach the Deer Flat area; make a right onto Meridian Ridge Rd. and hike 0.75 mile. Turn left onto the signed spur trail for Eagle Peak; it’s another 0.75 mile to the summit. Return the way you came. No dogs.