Now, I don't recommend you hike or trail run alone, if you're not SUPER familiar with the trail, or know of a safety plan in case of emergencies. I mean, it is easy to roll an ankle, get eaten by a bear, etc. But, if I used this as an excuse, I wouldn't have ever gone, letting fear continue to rule me. So, since the hubby is deployed (again...), it was time to step out of my comfort zone, and into the unknown, alone. There is something so awesome about being out in nature, alone (minus the strangers also out doing the same thing). I did as much research on the trail as possible, knowing where to park, where the trail crosses the roads, etc. (and most importantly, where to get good food after!). Of course, it didn't all play out as I had researched, but I had on my big girl panties and figured it out!
My goal was to start at the Mt. Diablo Summit Trail trailhead, completely at the bottom of the mountain. I found the trailhead easily, but couldn't find anywhere to park! So, since I didn't know if there was a parking lot around the corner, I kept driving up the mountain. 10 minutes goes by (slowly as to carefully pass the TONS of bicyclists going up the mountain), and still no where to park, and I didn't know where to go. I thought I was just going to have to drive up to the Summit and then run from there. But soon I got to the State Park entrance gate (about 12-14 minutes up the mountain), paid my $10 car parking fee, and decided to park at the first stop I saw,Rock City. In my research, I vaguely remembered that the Summit Trail did go through Rock City (a really cool area with some awesome rock formations). So, I found a parking spot, looked at my google map and found myself via the little blue dot, and found the Summit Trail close by. Bonus was that there were restrooms right there, which I definitely needed after my 75 minute drive.
The great part of the Mt. Diablo trail system, is that all of the trails show up on Google Maps, so along the way, I kept checking in (with my little blue dot) to make sure I was still on the path. I could have done it without checking, because the Summit Trail was so well marked that I didn't really need to check. But, being out there alone, I felt good knowing where I was on the mountain at all times. I never felt "lost" at all, and ran into several other "single runners" on the trail.
All in all, from Rock City to the Summit was about 4 miles, and it took me about 1 hour 45 minutes. From the trailhead at the bottom, it would have been 6 miles, but by the time I got to the Summit, I was quite glad that I didn't have those two extra miles.... talk about a huge, steep, awesome mountain that is! I wasn't in a rush, since I cut off two miles (each way, so a total of 4 miles that I had planned on), so I stopped, took photos, read the educational signs along the way, and of course, stopped to catch my breath quite often!
Because I didn't have those extra miles under my belt (the hidden blessing of not finding parking at the bottom, and driving up the mountain to Rock City), I was able to explore the 1 mile Fire Trail, which circles around the Summit for 360 degree views of the entire area from the Bay to the Sierras. I stopped to enjoy a snack before making my way back down.
QUADS ON FIRE! On the way down, man, my legs were telling me how out of shape for trail running I was! So, I did a little walking, more running, and all in all, made it back to my car in an hour. So, it was a total of 3 hours for my 9 miles of adventure (4 miles up to the summit, 1 mile around the summit, 4 miles down to my car). So much quicker to run back down! Seeing my car at the end of a hike or trail run is always a great feeling, and a sigh of relief that I didn't get eaten by a mountain lion, after putting in the hard work.
I'm addicted now. Who wants to go to Mt. Diablo with me? Time to LIVE FOR IT ALL!
PS. I Yelp'd healthy food in the area, and found Slow G's restaurant to get some delicious, gluten free, healthy food. (they also have some delicious looking bread and sandwiches for those who can eat bread). I will make sure to stop there EVERY TIME I travel this way! I was hungry, so I got two types of quinoa salads and some chips to enjoy after a long run. Yum!
Abby Malmstrom M.S. is an exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, wellness coach, and "real food" nutritionist. Her life as an active duty military spouse takes her all over the world, allowing her to influence, teach, and connect with folks in communities she never even dreamed of reaching. Life's an adventure, so stay tuned for the ride! It's time to "Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well, Be Well."