Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mt. Diablo

Mount Diablo is located in Contra Costa County in Northern California, just outside of Walnut Creek.  It is one of the more significant geographic landmarks in the region and is visible from most of the immediate Bay Area.  It is also the second highest peak in the Bay Area with an elevation of 3,864 feet.  Only Mount Hamilton is taller at 4,367 feet.  California State historical marker number 905 is located at the visitor's center at the top of Mount Diablo.

Mount Diablo has been a significant geographical marker throughout early Californian history.  Since it is so visible from such great distance, sue largely to its relatively isolated nature as a single peak, it was an important landmark for settlers, prospectors during the Gold Rush, and navigators during the early phases of statehood.

The origins of Mount Diablo's name can be traced back to 1824 when the phrase "El Monte del Diablo" appears on a Spanish map of local Native American settlements.  This name was originally applied to a nearby ranch, Rancho Monte del Diablo, that was situated on the current site of the city of Concord, but was misinterpreted by English-speaking settlers as referring to the mountain itself.

Mount Diablo has been used for geographic reference since European settlers first moved to the area.  The south peak of Mount Diablo was used as the starting reference point for many of the large-scale land surveys of California, Nevada, and Oregon.  Standard Oil also built an aerial navigation beacon on the top of the mountain in 1928, enabling pilots to plot safe courses around the summit.

Getting There By Bike...
This is most likely an achievable ride for most people, but it might take a while.  The basic route up Mount Diablo follows South Gate Road to the saddle where there is a ranger station, a water fountain and restrooms.  The route then follows the summit road up to the peak and the information center, where more bathrooms and a snack bar await.  Don't be fooled, this is a moderately tough climb and involves approximately eleven miles of consistent climbing.  But the view from the top is worth it, and the ride down is certainly worth the time.  A couple of pieces of advice would be to try and ride to the top in the fall or the spring, since the temperature during the summer is very hot and there is little shade on the way up.  Be sure to bring water and food along with you.  Weekends can be hectic with lots of other cyclists and cars full of tourists trying to get to the top, so be careful.

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