Ghosts, goblins, and ghouls may no longer raise the hair on your neck but that doesn’t mean no hairy surprises are out there. And the devil’s got the details! There’s an arachnid invasion right now on Mount Diablo
: from late September to early November, male tarantula spiders leave their burrows in search of mates. The best place to catch a glimpse of these creepy crawlers is on the northern slopes of Mount Diablo, accessible via the Mitchell Canyon Staging Area. From the visitor center, amble along the main fire road paralleling Mitchell Creek before ascending the Black Point Trail. As the moderately sloped doubletrack weaves out of the canyon toward its namesake highpoint, keep on the lookout for dark-brown silhouettes in the grasses lining the path and right in front of your feet. Many single-minded male tarantulas will scurry across the red clay in a frantic quest for the burrow (a penny-size hole marked by a delicate web weaved around its entrance) of their female paramour. To separate myth from reality: a tarantula bite is no worse than a bee sting, so don’t panic if one scuttles in your direction. That strange tingling sensation you feel? That’s just the hair rising on your neck.
From Hwy. 24/I-680 in Walnut Creek, follow signs to Ygnacio Valley Road East. After 7.5 miles, turn right on Clayton Rd. and then right on Mitchell Canyon Rd. The staging area is at the end of the road. Schedule your 2.5-mile hike an hour or two before sundown (when the tarantulas are most active). Park at the Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center ($6 fee). Hike south on the Mitchell Canyon Fire Road. Turn right to ascend the Black Point Trail and follow it up to the singletrack. Turn around and retrace the route back to the Globe Lily Trail connection. If time allows, hike Globe Lily—a singletrack trail—until it intersects the Red Road Trail. Turn left and left again onto the Mitchell Canyon Fire Road to return to the parking lot. No dogs.