Ken Dyleski helps Save Mount Diablo with mapping and on-the-ground stewardship work. He collaborated on producing the first edition of the Mt. Diablo map published by Save Mt. Diablo. His GPS enabled digital trail map of the Diablo Grand Loop was published on the National Geographic Topo site. He has a California State Certificate in Geographic Information Science from Diablo Valley College.
Mr. Dyleski's previous articles on the outdoors have been published in Sierra magazine, Northern California Explorer, and the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
Forests and Woodlands
Begin this hike into Black Diamond Regional Preserve from Clayton using the Black Diamond Trail Staging Area on Clayton Rd.. Additional overflow parking is available at the Peacock Park and Ride one block south on Clayton Rd. This historic pioneer&miners route provided access to Nortonville and the Black Diamond coal mines. The fork at the mouth of Irish Canyon provided a short cut stage route from Clayton to Antioch.
Black Diamond Trail follows along the right side of Peacock Creek less than a mile to the junction of Irish and Whiskey Canyons. Follow Black Diamond Trail left, up Whiskey Canyon. Irish Canyon, to the right, is closed to the public but is under current planning for a future new Regional Park. Occasional free guided preview hikes are offered into Irish Canyon. Call Save Mt. Diablo at 925-947-3535 for information.
As you hike steadily uphill on shade-less trail, the summit of Kreiger Peak, the tallest in the area except for the Mt. Diablo cluster, is visible on the right. It’s the dome area with a communications tower marking the true summit. Long distance hikers note: the American Discovery, Diablo Grand Loop, and the Mokelumne Coast to Crest overlay trails all pass over the flanks of Kreiger because of the fine views found there. As you hike over a low spot on the north ridge of Kreiger, the trail now reveals great views of the area called Two Rivers far below where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers intersect and of wind farms in the distance beyond.
Stay to the right, leave the Black Diamond Tr. and begin the Cumberland Trail. Enter Black Diamond Regional Preserve through a gate at that point. The Cumberland Tr. eventually circles back to a lower paved portion of the Black Diamond Trail. Get back on Black Diamond at this point and continue going downhill. Soon the sign post for Jim’s Place appears on the right. Follow this sandy trail segment as it leads around a huge bushy pine tree to Jim’s Place, a short tunnel in sandstone where the mysterious unknown resident kept house. Those inviting flat rocks on the roof of the tunnel have been know to harbor rattlesnakes so use caution and look around before sitting there!
Continue left past the sign at the tunnel for the Coal Canyon Trail. Descend Coal Canyon on narrow trail with avoidable poison oak and visible surface coal. The trail winds through interesting varied forest on occasionally short switch backs and past a rocky cliff area. Enter an open area and leave the trail for a road curving left to an informational sign explaining the mining features at that spot. Abandoned since 1885, the Welsh miner’s ghost town site of Nortonville can be seen below as a wide flat area void of buildings.
Hike back uphill past the tailings exhibit, eventually returning to Jim’s Place and then retracing your steps back to the Black Diamond Trailhead in Clayton.