Curry Point Trailhead, Mount Diablo State Park,
California State Parks,
Contra Costa County
In brief:
4 mile out and back through grassland and chaparral, to the curious Balancing Rock. Excellent wildflowers in spring.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 3.9 mile out and back hike is easy, with about 480 feet in elevation change. Trailhead elevation is about 1745 feet. From this trailhead you can climb or descend in every direction, so hikes can range from short and easy to long and grueling. The featured hike dips to about 1579 feet, and the high point is around 1850 feet.

Exposure:
Mostly exposed, with some pockets of shade.

Trail traffic
:
Moderate.

Trail surfaces
:
Dirt fire roads.

Hiking time
:
2 hours.

Season
:
Too hot in summer. Best in late winter and early spring.

Getting there:
From Interstate 680 in Contra Costa County, exit Diablo Road (exit 39). Follow the green "parks" signs: drive east on Diablo Road (turn right to continue on Diablo Road at El Cerro), then turn left at the (stop sign) junction with Blackhawk onto Mount Diablo Scenic Boulevard. Drive north on Mount Diablo Scenic Boulevard, which morphs into South Gate Road at the park boundary. Drive carefully uphill on this narrow road (watch out for bicyclists) to the entrance kiosk. Then continue about 1.5 miles to the broad flat parking lot on the right side of the road (the Curry Point sign is near the start of the trail, but it's the first parking lot past Rock City).

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
http://transitandtrails.org/trailheads/312

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead
:
Latitude 3751'7.39"N
Longitude
12155'31.24"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging
:
Gas, stores, and restaurants back near I 680 in Danville. The park has group campgrounds and individual campsites.

Trailhead details
:
Pay $10 entrance fee at the kiosk (if staffed). No drinking water or toilet facilities at the trailhead. There is a map under glass. Paper maps and pay phone are available at the entrance kiosk, and there are restrooms at Rock City. No designated handicapped parking. Trails are unobstructed, but poorly suited to wheelchairs. There is no direct public transit to the park.

Rules
:
Most trails are multi-use. Some trails are open to equestrians and hikers only. No dogs. Gates open at 8 and close at sunset. The park is open from 8 a.m. to 45 minutes before sunset.

The Official Story:
CSP's Mount Diablo page
Mount Diablo Ranger Station 925-837-6129

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
• Download the park map pdf from CSP's website.
Mount Diablo (& Surrounding Parks) map, published by Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, is invaluable (order at http://www.mdia.org).
• David Weintraub's East Bay Trails has a good map and descriptions of a hike departing from this trailhead (order this book from Amazon.com).

Curry Point in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

View photos from this hike.



Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page


Diablo's Curry Point Trailhead is a popular staging area on the mountain's southeastern flank. Curry Point parking lotWith elevation around 1745 feet, Curry Point is almost halfway up the mountain, and it's a good starting point for some of Diablo less grueling hikes. It's possible to hike to the summit, but the two routes to the top have disadvantages over the preferred Mitchell Canyon routes. Summit Trail follows along South Gate Trail for a few miles, and most hikers will not be pleased with the attendant traffic noise. The other route; Curry Canyon Road to Frog Pond Road, Alder Creek Road, Green Ranch Road, and then Summit Trail, is a long meandering 10-mile round trip. Preferred Curry Point routes explore the rock formations and chaparral of Knobcone Point, the sycamores, California bays, buckeyes, maples, and coast live oaks of shaded Curry Canyon Road, and the tiny ponds sprinkled through the grassland around Frog Pond Road. Knobcone Point Road Hikers out for a long out-and-back trek can start at Curry Point, traverse Blackhawk Ridge and Oyster Point, and walk all the way to the park boundary on Black Hawk Road and Oyster Point Road/Trail.
      These broad fire roads to the south and east travel through interesting and varied plant communities. In winter manzanitas flower and the hills begin to green. Spring brings copious wildflowers to the rolling hills. Even after most of the grassland wildflowers fade in late spring, chaparral plants such as chamise and chaparral pea bloom along Knobcone Point, and a few late blooming wildflowers line the riparian corridors.In the stupefying heat of summer the plants fail to impress, but in autumn maples, sycamores, and deciduous oaks put on a foliage show.Knobcone Point Road
     For the featured hike, begin on signed multi-use Curry Canyon Road. In spring, the grassy hills on the sides of the nearly level wide fire road are dotted with lupines and Ithuriel's spear. There are unobstructed views north to the summit, and glimpses of huge boulders south near Rock City. After just 0.11 mile, Knobcone Point Road begins on the right at a signed junction. Continue straight (Curry Canyon Road veers left) on Knobcone Point Road.
      Knobcone Point Road, open to equestrians, cyclists, and hikers, begins a gentle descent, with occasional clusters of coast live oak providing some shade. A few gray pines can be spotted along the trail. At 0.68 mile, Devil's Slide Trail begins on the right side of the trail at a signed junction. Continue on Knobcone Point Road.Rock formation
     The trail makes a brief climb through mixed woods, where you might see Mount Diablo fairy lanterns in May. As the trail crests, it meets Black Hawk Road at a signed junction at 0.83 mile. Continue to the left on Knobcone Point Road.
     Knobcone Point Road keeps a mostly level course as it wanders into chaparral. Chamise, black sage, sticky monkeyflower, manzanita, ceanothus, pitcher sage, yerba santa, and chaparral pea accompany gray and knobcone pine. Climbing along the ridge, the trail offers wonderful views of distant rock formations to the right. There's a rustic picnic bench off the trail on the left, just before Knobcone Point Road begins a slow climb through chaparral, with very little shade. You may see a few madrones, coast live, and blue oaks, but the previously mentioned plants dominate. A signpost marks a faint dead-end trail on the left. As you climb along Knobcone Point Road, look back to the northwest for outstanding views, and a recap of the hike so far. Balancing rock You may even be able to see your car at the trailhead. The trail levels out, and views diminish as the slopes leading to Knobcone Point rise up on the right. Oaks shade the fire road. At 1.76 miles, marked by a parks sign, the trail reaches Balancing Rock on the right side of the trail. The formation is comprised of a huge boulder, perched on a smaller rock. You can turn around here if you want, but walk a bit further to the park border, at 1.96 miles. The boundary is somewhat signed, but a fence stretched across the road and a dead-end fire road on the right also mark the transition. From here, there are nice views of more rock formations to the south. When ready, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance: 3.92 miles
Last hiked: Friday, May 11, 2001