Footloose in the Foothills
Hike Diablo Foothills Regional Park in the East Bay
Diablo Foothills Regional Park is known for its interesting geological formations, but it’s also got a bigger attraction in spring: green rolling hills that help deliver some of the lushest views of Mount Diablo itself. This beautiful 8-mile loop takes you through the majority of the park’s scenic terrain.
Start at the Castle Rock Trail parking lot entrance and take the trail headed south towards the park office. At the first junction, head right to begin the main climb. As you approach the false peak, keep to the left for the Shell Ridge Trail (which begins after a quick drop). Keep left, dipping onto a singletrack trail that weaves through a thicket of ridgeside trees. At your next junction, head right to finish this climb and get the big reward: unobstructed views of Mount Diablo along with a bird’s-eye view of the razor-like rock formations that make up the park’s popular Mammoth Rock. You’ll also have views of the verdant open space for miles.
After descending into the valley below, keep to the right on the Fairy Lantern Trail, which bursts from the trees into green meadows soon to be blossoming in wildflowers. Follow the Briones to Mount Diablo Regional Trail and continue your climb out of the tree-filled valleys below and get your fill of Mount Diablo views.
Finish up by combining Wall Point Road as it transitions to Dusty Road and then on to Stage Road. Making your way through patches of thick forest and over some small creek crossings, you can see Mammoth Rock in the distance. Once you pass the dam, turn around for a last look at the spiny rock formation on the hillside. At the cattle gate, keep left to follow the connector trail back to where you started.
The hike begins at the Castle Rock Trail entrance, adjacent to the North Peak Equestrian Center. The parking lot offers ample parking; however, we recommend that you begin your hike early since the hike is partially exposed. No water is available at the trailhead. Restrooms available. Dog-friendly!
Story and photos by Brad Hyland, @bradhylandphotography
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