CONTRACOSTATIMES.COM March 13, 2009
The Falls Trail up the back side of Mt. Diablo has never been prettier, with its swollen creek and four cascading waterfalls tumbling down from the peak. Having hiked there last weekend, I can vouch for their splendor.You’ll want to allow five or six hours to hike this six mile loop trail, from a cul-de-sac in Clayton to nearly the top of the mountain. It’s a steep and arduous climb in some spots, following an array of trails, but the rewards come quickly and often.
From the minute you park your car on Regency Drive (just off Marsh Creek Road) you’re treated to a trail that meanders along a scenic stretch of Donner Creek — complete with its own little waterfalls and rapids.
The path crosses the water in two places, so it’s a good idea to wear your “mudders,” as you’ll find yourself puddle-jumping rocks and balancing on logs to cross over.
There are several places to stop that are tailor-made for a picnic. High meadows seem to get the most sun and the wildflowers are already popping up on the hillsides. Bring a blanket or sit on an outcropping of rocks and just listen to the sounds of nature.
By the time you reach the second creek crossing, you’ll feel the heat from a hike that’s already ascended several hundred feet. Here is where the scenery really starts to get interesting.
The trail narrows and starts a series of switchbacks that take you high above lush, chiseled canyons. You can hear the roar of the waterfalls before you see them, but then suddenly it’s as if you’re in Hawaii. From high above the trailhead, the first falls tumble into the hillside and disappear, only to materialize in an even more spectacular spray just below. A third and a fourth waterfall make the cascade complete — and are a treat well worth the hike.But waterfalls aren’t the only eye candy. Looking south, the vista stretches for miles, taking in the pastoral hills and seemingly endless patchwork of homes. Somewhere down there is a traffic jam — but up here there’s just solitude.
A smile comes to my face as I think about the temptation I had to turn back before reaching the top. I didn’t succumb. After 25 years of seeing this mountain from afar — I can finally say the devil has met his match.
The waterfalls show best after heavy rains and typically dry up in late spring. You can see photos of the wildflowers and waterfalls by clicking the video link under categories. Waterfall photo courtesy of Leon Turnbull at http://www.waterfallswest.com.