Gear Trails: Autumn's Best Hike

Views to die for. Without the crowds. But you'll pay for it.

By Diane Rommel

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10 October 2016

It's been a rough season for Bay Area nature-lovers. 

It's been a rougher season for Bay Area nature, with a notable portion of it actually on fire. 

There's no better time than the present, though, to get out there and see the best of what nature has to offer.

The Mount Diablo summit hike has its time (when everyone else is in bed) and place (in the hearts of men who don't prize solitude). Because man alive: it gets crowded. That's what happens when there's a parking lot on a mountaintop. 

All of which is why it's worth looking north. To the North Peak

No parking lot here: to get on top of North Peak, you need to hike: about 10 miles, round trip. (You can extend to main summit if you don't mind tacking on an three additional miles.) And it is steep — think 3,000 feet of elevation gain. But if it's not on your Bay Area hike-centric bucket list, your bucket list may very well be erroneous. 

Note: We're calling this the hike of the autumn because it is downright unpleasant in the summer heat. And, nota bene, as we write this, it's 90 degrees. But temps the rest of this week should be in the 70s. Which means it's go time. Just keep an eye on the tarantulas. 

Did we mention the reward, of views so far-reaching that you might see the peaks of the Sierras? 

High intensity, high reward: just the way we like it. 

Speaking of high reward: As you leave the park, make a beeline for — no kidding — our favorite post-hike apéro in the state: Ed's Mudville Grill in Clayton. It's about as fancy as the name suggests — but if you go on Sunday, the house special is chicken fried steak. And they have a full menu of craft beers plus a sweet patio. 

Chicken fried steak, beer, and a patio, after a 10-mile hike with views of the Sierras. 

That is a five-star day, friend. 

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