|Pink Spineflower (Chorizanthe membranacea). May 8, 2016|
Date: March 1st, 2013 and May 8, 2016
Place: Mount Diablo State Park, Walnut Creek, California
Coordinates: 37.880975, -121.917156
Length: 0.9 mile
The Mary Bowerman Interpretive Trail is a short an sweet trail that encircles Mount Diablo's summit. The views from there are unmatched, and the local Nature is one of the best in the Bay Area. I consider this trail a must to any Mt. Diablo visitor, and try my best to bring my visitors there.
Most of the photos in this post are from my latest hike there last May. It was overcast most of the time, and very windy. The bloom, however, was no less than spectacular.
Three years ago I took my good friend Anenet to this trail. It was a sunny March day and we had a fabulous time. I include some of my photos from that hike as well, as they show the great views that can be seen from the mountain top on a clear day.
Going clock-wise, the trail begins with a nice, wide trail under a canopy of small live oaks. Being on the north-facing slope, that trail segment is the most vegetation-covered.
|California Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia). May 8, 2016|
|Canyon Larkspur (Delphinium nudicaule).May 8, 2016|
Later on, as I was identifying the plants I documented that day, I realized this was an endemic plant - one that grows only in that region, and even named after it: the Mount Diablo Helianthella.
|Mount Diablo Helianthella (Helianthella castanea). May 8, 2016|
|Silver Bush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons). May 8, 2016|
|Pine (Coulter?). May 8, 2016|
|View to the northeast, March 2013|
Yellow-flowering bushes covered the slope, giving it a happy, fresh appearance despite the fog cover.
|Interior Goldenbush (Ericameria linearfolia), May 8, 2016|
Another, much closer peak, seen from there is Eagle Peak - the second highest in Mt. Diablo State Park. It, too, wasn't visible on the foggy May 8th.
|Eagle Peak, March 2013|
|Plactritis sp. May 8, 2016|
|Sickle-leaved Onion (Allium falcifolium). May 8, 2016|
There, near the southern tip of the loop trail, there is a patch of gravel-covered rock that is bare of trees and bushes but in season is covered with pretty geophyte and annual wildflowers. Of these the bitter root is probably the most noticable.
|Bitter Root (Lewisia rediviva). May 8, 2016|
|Serpentine Springbeauty (Claytonia exigua), May 8 2016|
|The last of the Snow: March 2013|
We turned the southern tip of the trail and started back north on the western ark of the loop.
|May 8, 2016|
|Coffee Fern (Pallaea andromedifolia). May 8, 2016|
|Brewer's Rock Cress (Boechera breweri), March 2013|
|Jepson's Morning Glory (Calystegia malacophylla ssp. pedicellata). May 8, 2016|
When the Spaniards moved into Alta California they built a chain of missions and presidios along the coast and they forced the Native Californians into the missions to convert them and use them as slave labor. Many of them tried escaping but very few succeeded, as the Spaniards were on horse back and armed. One band of Native Californians, however, managed to escape the grounds of Mission San Jose (Fremont) and got as far as Suisan Bay by nightfall when the chasing platoon caught up with them. The Spaniards surrounded the fugitives and waited until morning to snare them, but during the night the Indians had slipped away through the thicket and disappeared to freedom. Returning empty handed, the Spaniard captain announced that the Indians had been helped by the devil, escaping through the devilish thicket or, 'Monte el Diablo'. When English-speaking settlers arrived the name transferred to the nearby mountain and stuck.
|View southwest, May 8, 2016|
|Serpentine Bedstraw (Galium andrewsii ssp. gatense). May 8, 2016|
|Western Pygmy Blue, May 8, 2016|
|Owl's Clover (Castilleja exserta). May 8, 2016|
|Cobweb Thistle ( Cirsium occidentale). May 8, 2016|
|Clustered Broomrape (Orobanche fasciculata). May 8, 2016|
Being a sort of isolated high peak, Mount Diablo is a kind of an ecological 'island' and is home to a number of plant species that are unique to this park. Some are named after it. The most famous of them is the Mt. Diablo Globe Lily that we had seen at Mitchell Canyon earlier on that day, but there are others, too, like this humble phacelia that grows near the summit.
|Mt. Diablo Phacelia (Phacelia phacelioides). May 8, 2016|
Chaparral is a hardy community, evolved to thrive in fire-ridden zones. These bushes that had been burned to the ground by the fire were now recovering well, growing lush and strong from their underground root crowns.
Underneath the burnt-renewed chaparral were dense patches of wildflowers. In this part of the trail - chia.
|Golden Ear-drops (Dicentra chrysantha). May 8, 2016|
All and all it was much greener there on my May 2016 hike than on my March 2013 hike. The boon of the long rainy season we've had this year.
|Coulter Pine (Pinus coulteri)|
Today the foundation stone of the Bay Miwok's world can be seen inside the little visitor center that now house what used to be an airplane beacon.
Be humble when visiting, as it is a holy site.
|The visitor center at Mt. Diablo's summit|
|Snowy Peaks of the Sierra Nevada, view from Mount Diablo, March 2013|