Grand Loop

Featuring naturalists Seth Adams, Ken Lavin, Mike Moran, and Beverly Ortiz, this tour takes you on a panoramic loop around the top of California’s 3,849-foot Mount Diablo. The tour can be enjoyed at home or downloaded to to take on the trail. Sponsored by Save Mount Diablo & California State Parks Foundation, 2010. Music by Phil Heywood.

What you need to know before you go.
Photo: Prospectors Gap (© Scott Hein, www.heinphoto.com)
Learn the survival secrets of junipers and gray pines--and discover why the fragrant bay laurel is a backpacker’s friend.
Music: “Manna from Kokomo,” Circle Tour, by Phil Heywood. Photos: Looking West From Deer Flat Road, At the Metal Gate, Juniper Leaves 1, Juniper Leaves 2, Juniper Seeds, Park Sign, Gray Pines, Bay Laurel, On the Road, Seth Adams, Cut Slopes, Calochortus venustus (Mariposa Lily), Poppy, Indian Paintbrush, The Next Stop.  
Where Burma Road joins the trail down to Deer Flat is a great place to learn about the mountain’s leafy north side.
Music: “Manna from Kokomo,” Circle Tour, by Phil Heywood. Photos: At Burma Road, Mount Zion, Upper Mitchell Canyon, Stonecrop, Cobweb Thistle, Wallflower, Eagle Peak, Deer Flat. 
With its valley oaks and gray pines, Deer Flat is an oasis for birds. In this segment, learn to identify the scrub jay and spotted towhee.
Music: “Wind River Ramble,” Circle Tour, by Phil Heywood. Photos: Deer Flat, Scrub Jay (©iStockphoto.com/Julie Vader), Valley Oak, Live Oak, Spotted Towhee (©Joe Oliver), Deer Flat Creek, Murchio Gap, Trail Junction.
It takes gumption to climb up to 2,330-foot Murchio Gap. It’s worth it, though, if you like history, views, and the color pink.
Music: “Medley: Spirituals in C,” You Got to Move, by Phil Heywood. Photos: Chaparral Pea, Bald Ridge Trail, Manzanitas (2), “Little Apple,” Manzanitas, Bald Ridge Trail (2), Poison Oak.
Now you’re on a rocky high point on the Bald Ridge Trail, a quarter mile or so from Murchio Gap. Looking north . . .
Music: “Movin’ With the Moon,” You Got to Move, by Phil Heywood. Photos: On the Knoll, Mount Olympia and North Peak, Ransom Point, Leander Ransom, Survey Point, Brush, Checker Lily, Indian Warrior, Star Lily, Red Ribbons Clarkia.
You’re two thirds of the way around our loop. As you move onto the east and south slopes, the mountain changes . . .
Music: “Dulcimer Melody,” You Got to Move, by Phil Heywood. Photos: Double Pyramid (© Scott Hein, www.heinphoto.com), Prospectors Gap, Double Pyramid (© Scott Hein), Mike Moran, Coal (© iStockphoto/Andrew Horwitz), Mount Diablo (© Scott Hein), Your Trail, Steep Gravel, Looking East.
Imagine it’s a fine day in May of 1862. You’ve climbed this mountain, and are writing a letter to a relative on the East Coast.
Music: “Slow Return,” Circle Tour, by Phil Heywood. Photos: From the Top (© Scott Hein, www.heinphoto.com), William Brewer (Wikipedia Commons), Looking East, Golden Eagle (Dave Herr, USFS), Go Southeast, Peregrine Falcon (© Joe Oliver), California Condor (Chuck Szmurlo, Creative Commons), North Peak, Big Parks, Restoration (© Scott Hein), Turn Ahead.
On one of the best trails on the mountain, we stare up at a relic of aviation history, “the eye of Diablo.”
Music: “Manna from Kokomo,” Circle Tour, by Phil Heywood. Photos: North Peak Trail, Devil’s Pulpit and Summit, Beacon on Top, Standard Oil Tower (courtesy Save Mount Diablo), Summit Museum (© Scott Hein, www.heinphoto.com), Eye of Diablo (© John Karachewski, www.geoscapesphotography.com), Looking West, Devil’s Elbow, Elderberry.
Where the trail comes to the road, there’s a big gangly elderberry bush sharing its space with some poison oak. The elderberry played an important part in a sacred narrative . . .
Music: “Movin’ With the Moon,” You Got to Move, by Phil Heywood. Photos: Devil’s Elbow, Elderberry with Poison Oak, Leafless Elderberry, “Birthplace of the World,” Blue Elderberry, Elderberry Instrument, Blue Elderberry, Summit Trail.
“This is always what I think of as a sacrifice area, just like Half Dome, the Whitney portal to Whitney, etcetera. It’s also an opportunity."
Music: “Fred Meets Joni,” You Got to Move, Phil Heywood. Photos: Lower Summit  Lot, The Top, Lower Summit, Trail to Juniper, Trail Sign, Ceanothus, To the South.
Gaze at the rest of the Diablo Range, meet a gnarly ancient oak, and consider the benefits of frequent visits to your favorite wild places.
Music: “Circle Tour,” Circle Tour, by Phil Heywood. Photos: Looking South, “Taj Mahal of Trees,” Top of Taj, View from Taj, Mount Diablo from Clayton Ranch (© Scott Hein, www.heinphoto.com).
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