Falls Trail Hike, Mount Diablo, California

 

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We started our hike on a cold, wet January morning. It had been raining for the last few days, and we had a few hours break from the rain before the clouds rolled in again. Our hike started at Regency Gate,with a step-over creek crossing. We followed Donner Canyon Road, down to Cardinet Oaks Road, and took a right on Falls Trail. Downhill from where Falls Trail started, at the beginning of Cardinet Oaks Trail, was a large stream which threatened the continuation of our hike. But with some determination we made it across. Alternatively, we could have turned right at the junction of Meridian Ridge Road and gone left at Middle Trail to connect to Falls Trail, to avoid the large stream at the base of Cardinet Oaks Trail.

Falls in the distant, Falls Trail, Mt. Diablo, CA

Falls in the distant, Falls Trail, Mt. Diablo, CA

Falls crossing, Falls Trail, Mt. Diablo, CA

Falls crossing, Falls Trail, Mt. Diablo, CA

 

Three Falls appeared in the distance a short ways on the Falls Trail. The Falls Trail itself was 1-1.5 miles in length. The narrow Falls Trail curved around and into the many creeks that come together at the bottom as Donner Creek. With every creek that the trail crossed was a creek crossing usually in the middle of cascading mini waterfalls. Some required a big jump across, others required some wet rock hopping, and others, a helping hand from a fellow hiker. There were a few stream crossings that the kids required a carry-over from dad. Waterproof hiking shoes with good traction will prove their worth here. Hiking poles might have come in handy as well. We crossed a minimum of 5 rushing, cascading creeks/streams, each one unique in its own way. Each creek was surrounded by its own mix of flora, from red currant bushes to canopying trees to small green shrubs. Every so often, the trees opened a view of the surrounding hills and the town of Clayton.

Red currants along the Falls Trail, Mt. Diablo, CA

Red currants along the Falls Trail, Mt. Diablo, CA

Falls Crossing, Falls Trail, Mt. Diablo, CA

Falls Crossing, Falls Trail, Mt. Diablo, CA

 

Falls Trail connected to Middle Trail to lead us back to Meridian Ridge Road, then back to Donner Canyon Road, to Tick Wood Trail and finally to Back Creek Trail. The remainder of the hike was through a meadow with small trees by a stream (Back Creek). We went on a day preceded by many rainy days, so the trails were slippery and muddy. We met a few downed trees but managed our way around them fairly easily. Most of us managed to stay upright. Our pants were covered in splattered mud up to our shins, so don't wear any clothes you hold dearly.

Falls Crossing, Falls Trail, Mt. Diablo, CA

Falls Crossing, Falls Trail, Mt. Diablo, CA

Heading back to Regency Gate via Back Creek Trail

Heading back to Regency Gate via Back Creek Trail

 

 

 

Practical Information (as of January 2017):

Features: views of at least 3 waterfalls from afar, cross several streams of cascading water in the Falls area, during rainy season, stream crossing over swollen creeks

Trailhead: Regency Gate, at the end of Mountaire Parkway in Clayton, California, park in neighbourhood street near trailhead (313 Mountaire Parkway, Clayton, CA)

Fees: free, parking is at neighbourhood street

Hike: 6 miles, 1200 ft elevation gain, moderate to difficult, many stream crossings - some over swollen creeks, muddy and slippery when wet

Things to include: waterproof shoes, hiking poles can be useful

Amenities: none at Regency Gate trailhead, use cell phone to download or take a picture of trail map at Regency Gate trailhead

Trail Map: Falls Trail Hike (We started at Regency Gate Trailhead which cuts the hike down to 6 miles, didn't follow this trail map exactly, but used a similar map to find alternate routes)

 

Warning: The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided at the time of publication, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and be safe.
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