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
Car (Drive up)
Ambitious hikers wanting to experience a close to nature adventure should arrive at the Inspiration Point parking area near dawn. Unobstructed views to the East are an opportunity to watch the day begin in full color behind Mt. Diablo. The hike can be hot in summer season and there is no potable water along the route, so carry plenty of extra water. Pick up a required EBMUD trail permit the day before at the EBMUD office on San Pablo Dam Rd. just north of the Bear Creek Rd. junction. Call (866) 403-2683 for cost and information. This is a one way hike so it will be necessary to leave return transportation at the hike end point at the EBMUD Bear Creek Staging Area. Note this is NOT the nearby Briones Bear Creek Staging area. A downloadable up to date hiking map is available on line at www.ebmud.com under the recreation tab.
From Inspiration Point parking area, follow the north boundary fence, west, until a gate is reached at the edge of the parking lot. Sign in at the small kiosk, a required condition of the hiking permit. The dirt fire road trail “Inspiration Point Trail” begins at the kiosk, heading north. Don’t confuse the nearby paved Nimitz Way leading west with the correct smaller dirt fire road. The hiking route gently, then more steeply, descends north, then turns mostly west, passes a pond or two that in this drought are dried up. Upon reaching San Pablo Dam Rd. carefully cross this busy commuter route in the marked crosswalk, and follow the single track trail beginning just across the road until it intersects the Old San Pablo Trail. Turn right and follow in pleasant woods to the intersection of Bear Creek Rd. The Old San Pablo Trail has been there at least since the 1700’s when there was only a San Pablo Creek, and scattered oak woodland filled with herds of antelope stretching out to the Delta at present day Brentwood. The pine tree landscaping and San Pablo Reservoir completed in 1919 came as water needs grew rapidly as many refugees from the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake relocated to the East Bay.
There is a small parking area on the north side of Bear Creek Rd. beginning maybe 50 feet from San Pablo Dam Rd. Again enter EBMUD land through the marked gate at the parking area, hike through woods and across a sturdy footbridge. This section is called the Oursan Trail. Soon, reach the edge of a meadow where the trail bears left and skirts the meadow-woods boundary. Watch for a ribbon or two tied to tree limbs marking the trail’s route where the trail becomes faint. Pass through an open maintenance staging area and walk towards the Briones Dam visible nearby, now on a good signed trail. Proceed directly uphill, alongside the fenced overflow spillway. The trail continues its climb alongside the south side of Briones Reservoir, but well above the shoreline on what is now called the Bear Creek Trail. Pass the Overlook Staging Area before reaching a well deserved rest bench. The longish climb is over and Bear Creek Tr. will now steadily descend over the next few miles in the cool woods. After the trail levels out, you’ll reach a large clearing and follow the trail across the Oursan Trail coming around the north side of Briones reservoir. It’s a brief stroll over the inlet creek to the EBMUD Bear Creek Staging Area and your shuttle back to Tilden.