Friday, October 4, 2013

Diablo Summit - Mitchell Canyon, North Peak Trail, Bald Ridge Trail, to Eagle Peak

Mitchell Canyon floor
Finally, with a day off and a wonderful and patient wife, I was able to make the loop to the summit of Mount Diablo - up Mitchell Canyon and Juniper Trails and down North Peak, Bald Ridge and Eagle Peak trails.  The temperature was just right and while a bit of smoke from a fire up at Lake Berryessa, the sky was clear.

Eagle Peak from Mitchell Canyon Trail
I am pretty used to summitting from Mitchell Canyon and Juniper Trails.  In fact, as I have stated before, Juniper has been my favorite trail on the mountain for some awesome technical single track.  However, having only run down North Peak (with some good single track) I wasn't sure what awaited on Bald Ridge or Eagle Peak trails.

Bald Ridge from Mitchell Canyon
My wife had run much of Bald Ridge and said I would enjoy it a lot and "was very runnable."  The clue should have been more that I would enjoy this trail since she knows my hankering for some really good technical.  I misunderstood the very runnable part.  It is, but beats Juniper in the technical category, a tough feat indeed.

The run was pretty uneventful up Mitchell Canyon.  All fire road, after the first 2 miles the real climb begins and continues to Juniper Campground.  This is a great place to fill up your water bottle.  Next is Juniper Trail, 1 mile and 900 feet of climbing to 3,810 ft. summit.  I spent a little bit of time here and then began my descent.

North Point Trail through the fire zone.
As short run down Summit trail will connect you with North Peak Trail.  This will take you through areas that were affected by this years Morgan Fire.  This is a bit of nice single track with the occasional drops and dips through loose rock and chaparral. Last time Beth and I ran through here we ran into some wild hogs.

After about 1.5 of descent you reach Prospector's Gap.  Here you are given the choice of either running up to North Peak, down the Gap Fire Road, down Meridian Trail (wide fire trail but has been torn up from the fire equipment), and Bald Ridge Trail.
Wonderful views from Bald Ridge Trail.

Eagle Peak from Bald Ridge Trail
Bald Ridge Trail is a wonderful roller coaster single track through oak and pine forests and is peppered with rocky outcroppings and loose rock.  Most of the trail is covered and, as my wife stated, pretty runnable.  Just note that there will be times when you will come to a grinding halt because the rocky sections.  Once you are through these forests you are treated with the trails name sake - Bald Ridge.  You are treated with some awesome views of Mitchell Canyon, North Peak, Eagle Peak, Clayton Valley, and the Sacramento Delta.  After you reach a slight climb to the little summit, you drop down into some nicely groomed single track that takes you to the Eagle Peak, Back Creek Trail, and Meridian Trail intersection.

I was pretty beat by this point and was tempted to drop down Back Creek or take Meridian Trail back to Mitchell Canyon Trail; however, I stuck with the original plan- take the Eagle Peak Trail to Twin Peaks and then down Mitchell Rock trail.

Bald Ridge Trail from Eagle Point.  Back Creek Trail is on the left.
Ever since we have been hiking and running out of Back Creek Trail and Mitchell Canyon trail I have wanted to take Eagle Peak.  Pretty much like when I graduated from the intermediate slopes to black diamonds in skiing, Eagle Peak seemed so foreboding.  I would look longingly at this trail every time we would climb up out of Back Creek only to settle on running back down Mitchell Canyon.  Today would be the day.

I would breakdown Eagle Peak Trail into 4 sections - the drop down across the ridge, the climb up to Eagle Peak, the and the descent to the Pine Trail cutoff, and then down to Pine Trail.  At the Pine Trail Cutoff you can take another trail to Twin Peaks which connect to Mitchell Rock Trail.  I took the first 3 sections then over to Twin Peaks.

The climb up Eagle Peak.
The first section went pretty well.  Keep in mind there is a pretty steep drop on the Back Creek Trail side and that it is pretty rocky.  The climb up to Eagle Peak was a little bit of a challenge.  It is steep and again pretty rocky.  It is worth the climb because you are treated with some very nicely groomed single track during the third section down Eagle Peak.  That said, you have to keep your wits about you since you are running in very tall chaparral and the trail isn't marked very well.  You will find that the trail may split into two trail, with one leading off to oblivion.  Other parts of the trail gets pretty rocky and drops a few feet.  But  again this trail is really fun.  

By the time I got to Twin Peaks my legs were pretty tired from what was the most technical run that I have had in a while.  From Twin Peaks, more single track along the Mitchell Rock Trail, mainly switchback through pine and grasslands.  We had taken the kids through this section back in the spring and the wild flowers were beautiful through here.  This part of the trail went pretty quick and dropped me back to the staging area.

With 13.6 miles and over 5,100 feet of elevation gain, this was an awesome run. Other than the Mitchell Canyon section, it was all single track and mostly technical.  This run has quickly ascended to one of my favorite runs!

1 comment:

  1. I love that you live so close to this park and take advantage of it! I only know the trails that the races use, so I like hearing about all these other options. That is a tough 13.6 you did - much tougher than the Diablo Half I did the next day. (And I suspect a lot more interesting too!)


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