Itching to get the devil off your shoulder by conquering a peak on Mount Diablo? Well, angels may sing if you manage to tackle the park’s northeast peak, Mount Olympia (2,946 feet). The devil is in the details. It’s a 6-mile (round-trip) trek of beastly proportions, and you’ll need a head for heights. The 2.7-mile ascent up the narrow cliff-hugging ridges of the Olympia and East Trails will get your blood racing because of the steepness—and because you’re teetering near the edge of a canyon. No guts, no glory, right? Gain nearly 2,200 feet in elevation on the climb to the peak, which is marked by a rock outcrop. On a clear winter day the payoff is glorious (cue the angels): in addition to serious bragging rights—and shameless selfies—you’ll get 240-degree vistas of the golden grasses to the north, east, and south, punctuated by the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers merging into the Delta, and the Sierras in the distance. It’s downhill from here as you return via Mount Olympia Road, a broader fire road that hugs the gaping green Wild Oat Canyon to the west and connects back to the manzanita-dotted Olympia Trail. Olympia feat!
TIP: To moderate the ascent, skip the steep, ridge-side East Trail and instead continue on Olympia Trail up to Mount Olympia Road which will also take you to the peak. Descend the same way for an out-and-back hike.
NOTE: During winter it’s always best to check trail conditions with the Visitor Center (925) 837-6119 prior to embarking on this hike. Start at the Three Springs Staging Area on Marsh Creek Rd. in the town of Clayton. Park in the roadside pullout 2.5 miles southeast of Regency Dr. Pass through a gate that reads “Entering Mount Diablo State Park,” and start up the broad, paved Three Springs Rd. for 0.5 mile. When the path forks, look for the “Olympia Trail to Cardinet Oaks Rd” sign on the upper right, and continue on the singletrack Olympia Trail for about 1 mile. When the path splits, stay left on East Trail, a steep, narrow ridge-side trail that switches back 1.1 miles up to the peak of Mount Olympia. There you can take the Mount Olympia Road down 1.3 miles to meet back up with Olympia Trail, from which you came. Save Mt. Diablo has an excellent map of the park or pick one up at REI. Map recommended! No dogs.