At about 20,000 acres, Mount Diablo State Park is home to a lot more great hikes than just up to the summit (though that’s always worth doing for the climb and the views too). One of my favorites these days has been Eagle Peak on the Northeast side of the park which offers enough of a climb to give a decent workout, views to justify heading into the sun, while remaining quick enough to knock out in just a few hours. Curious ? Let’s talk details.
COVID-19 Note: Mount Diablo State Park is open for hiking as of when this was posted. However , parking lots, most restrooms and other facilities are closed for now. Park guidance is to stay local, walk or bike to the park. This post talks about the general trails but be sure to stay updated on the current park conditions.
Getting to the Trailhead
There are two main routes to Eagle Peak: via Regency Drive or Mitchel Canyon. Today I’ll be taking about the first which can be done either as an out and back or loop with a little more distance and gain as I’ll explain in a bit. Either trail and either route offer a solid couple hour hike.
This starts from Clayton at the end of, you guessed it, Regency Drive. There’s no parking lot though there is street parking available along the road. On weekends and holidays, street parking is restricted with a dozen or so spots at the end of the road and more a quarter mile back.
Please be sure to respect the local residents by parking away from driveways, following all posted parking signs (they are well enforced) and keeping the noise down as you walk by people’s houses.
Facilities, Lodging & Things Around the Trail
There are no facilities at the trailhead or on this trail at all. Be sure to bring plenty of water and be ready for wilderness restroom use following Leave No Trace.
If you do need water, snacks or other supplies, you can find a mix of gas stations and supermarkets in Clayton or sports stores in nearby Concord.
Hiking the Trail: Route Options
From Regency Gate, there are two ways up to Eagle Creek: the Eagle Creek Trail and Back Creek Trail. Both get you there in about the same distance so really the choice comes down to terrain and how much climbing you want to do. You can loop either way.
For the most direct route, take Eagle Creek Trail both up and down. This is a generally exposed, open hike with some incredible views into the East-East Bay and beyond.
For a more mixed experience, loop with Back Creek Trail which offers a forest hiking experience including some streams, good shade but also requires more elevation gain.
Key to the loop is the added climb: there’s a saddle between Eagle Peak and the adjacent ridge with over 250′ to climb down — and up.
Hiking the Trail: Eagle Peak Trail
From Regency Road, it’s a quick walk down the hill to reach the main trail and up to the gate. Look for any updated trail conditions posted here (the rattlesnake sign is not kidding) and then head on up the path right ahead for 0.2 miles before continuing on the George Cardinet trail for another 0.4 miles. All of this is a wide, completely open, fire-road trail with some nice field views but if you look up ahead and to your right, you’ll spot the Ridge Saddle and Eagle Peak ahead!
At the junction, continue straight, dipping down briefly as you pass under some trees and then continue ahead on Murchio dirt road for just 0.2 miles until you hit the junction with Bruce Lee road (yup, that’s right). Turn left and take that 0.2 miles towards the mountain to reach Eagle Peak trail.
As soon as you turn off the main road, Eagle Peak trail gets rather narrow and will stay that way to the top but either route is the same in this regards so dodging crowds is always a little more work.
For the next 1.1 miles, you’ll hike through a mix of light tree cover and open terrain, generally on a well maintained dirt path with a few steeper sections of rocks to hike up over but nothing significant. Be sure to look behind you for solid views of North Peak and the surrounding area — this trail is pretty great much of the way and for a loop, I prefer to come down it for this reason.
After a good deal of climbing, you’ll reach another junction. Continue left still on Eagle Peak trail to reach the summit ahead. This stretch is essentially a ridge walk and a hot one at that with little covering and winds often being blocked by the peak up ahead.
After 1.2 miles and a few hundred more feet of elevation, you’ll hit the Eagle Peak trailmarker and summit!
Hiking the Trail: Back Creek Trail
Things start the same as with the Eagle Creek Trail except that you’ll head left at the junction if you’re going up or right if you’re coming back.
From the junction, Back Creek trail quickly heads into the woods offering up a shaded experience for a bit as you pass under large trees and even walk by some (seasonal) creeks. Things narrow down as well into a single track trail and a nice one, especially in the early morning that climbs up modestly at first giving you a warm up for the day.
As you continue for about 0.7 miles, you’ll reach a junction on your left to Meridian Ridge. Ignore this and continue on ahead as the trail continues to pick up pace and do be sure to watch for the poison oak that lines the sides along many turns (leaves of 3, stay the heck away). The trail picks up steepness pretty notably and while it remains in the treeline, shade cuts in and out as the forest scenes change.
After 1.1 miles including a few turns back and forth and finally, a couple wooden steps, you’ll emerge at an opening where several trails junction. Turn to your right and stop at the large rocks if you need a break or to like tie your shoe. Once that’s covered, continue on this trail (Eagle Peak trail so you’re clearly in the right place) and enjoy the nice views down to what you just hiked up — also the total lack of shade that will be life for the rest of the hike. It’s 1.4 miles to the summit.
In just a few minutes, the trail dips down and quickly drops, losing about 250′ of what you just climbed and yes, you’ll have to regain just about all of it. The last push up is the most exposed part of the trail and also has some of the most exciting terrain with a couple steep steps over the rocky terrain before you see the first trail sign marking the peak just above.
Eagle Peak Summit
Eagle Peak is prominent enough to spot from a ways away and offers a flat, open area big enough for a few decent sized groups. The view from the summit is one of the reasons it draws me in with a great perspective to Mount Diablo’s South and North Peaks ahead, off to the Mine to your right and into eastern California and the back of the Bay Area behind you. There’s no shade up here but strong breezes are common, or have been for my morning arrivals at least.
Enjoy the summit view before connecting your loop or going back the way you came.
Hiking to the Summit: What to Bring with You
Mount Diablo State Park may be just a few miles from home but with miles of trail, it gets surprisingly remote real quick with very little in the way of facilities from this side of the mountain. Before you head out for the day, be sure to prepare for what’s ahead, packing up a solid day kit, checking the latest park conditions and keeping an eye on the weather.
Be sure to bring the 10 essentials and I’ll especially emphasize having a plenty of water for the hot days, extra food, extra layers, sunscreen for an exposed day, a headlamp if you end up out later than planned as well as a map should you miss any of the junctions along the way.
Coming prepared helps keep you safe and also makes for a much more enjoyable day then topping out without any water on a scorching day or freezing on a winter morning.
Quick facts about the trail:
- Route: Out and Back or Loop
- Official Rating: Moderate
- Start point: Regency Road, Clayton CA
- Distance: ~6-7 miles
- Duration: 2-4 hours
- Elevation Gain: 2,000 – 2,300′
- Facilities: None
- Water: None
- Crowds: Moderate to Heavy
- Cell coverage: Good
- Permits & Fees: None