Last weekend I did segment 7 of the American Discovery Trail from Antioch to Walnut Creek. I’ve done parts of this trip a number of times (Berkeley to Clayton backpack, and others), but the only whole trip I’ve done was in 2014 (ADT7: Antioch to Walnut Creek 2014-01).
As always, my access was by train and transit. Capitol Corridor from Sacramento to Martinez, then San Joaquins from Martinez to Antioch. The schedule doesn’t really work, but it gave me plenty of time in Martinez to walk over to El Cielo Brewing to have a beer. On the way back, Pleasant Hill BART to Richmond BART, and then Capitol Corridor back to Sacramento. It is a short 0.3 mile walk from the ADT to Pleasant Hill BART. The walk from the Antioch Amtrak station to the trail is longer, about 3 miles, but if I’d used BART instead to Antioch, it would have been a shorter 2.5 miles.
The segment starts on the far shore of the Contra Loma Reservoir. No idea why, it should start at where it the ADT leaves the Contra Costa Canal Trail/Delta De Anza Trail and heads south into Antioch Community Park. The trail then winds up into the hills of Black Diamond Mines preserve, using ranch/fire roads. It climbs way up, with good views. I camped on the ridge, and didn’t sleep much at all for the howling wind all night. The trail then descends to the Somersville townsite, one of the early mining towns, and then climbs again to high ridges with fewer views, and then a long descent into the town of Clayton. Clayton has a coffee shop, a convenience store, a few restaurants, and a nice park. The is the old part of Clayton, a real town, not the new part of Clayton which is just an exurb of Concord.
From Clayton the trail along a wash and across the fan heads into Mitchell Canyon and then begins the long climb to Mount Diablo. The Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail, which is mostly coincident with the ADT, deviates here to go up Donner Creek, east of Mitchell Canyon, and then rejoins past Deer Flat. The trail up Mitchell is gradual until it heads up steeply through switchbacks to reach Deer Flat. Deer Flat once had developed water, but not in years, and Mitchell Canyon had only a trickle for a short distance. The route then circles to the east before climbing very steeply up to Prospectors Gap. There is a spring off the trail, on Donner Creek, but I forgot to look to see if it had water this year. The plumes of clematis seeds decorate much of the other vegetation all the way up the trail. The trail/road then heads around the east and south side of Mount Diablo. The official ADT route did not formerly go to the top of the peak, but apparently it now does, but I skipped it for being late in the day and very windy.
From the peak, or where the ADT meets the road to the peak, the Summit Trail and ADT route heads down the south slope of Mount Diablo, zig-zagging close to and then away from the road. The park has turned off nearly all water sources, even in the campgrounds, and the only sources I could find were hidden away from the public. This is a reasonable response to the drought, I guess, but sure makes it hard on long distance hikers.
During the night the fog came in heavy, and in the morning all the isolated trees had circles of wet ground around them, water that is captured from the fog and then drops to the ground. It either doesn’t happen in forested areas, or if it does, is not as obvious, but for isolated trees in the woodlands, it must really make a difference.
The next day I followed the route out Wall Point Road through the park, and then regional park, and then city park, then the edge of Walnut Creek, all the way to Heather Farm Park. There is a lot of cattle grazing on these lands, useful to keep the vegetation down that would carry fire, but really there wasn’t much left to eat, and I think the cows should be off by now in a dry year. There were also a lot of people out hiking and bicycling! This is a popular trail for people in the Walnut Creek area, and perhaps beyond. The park is the first place with water available in quite some miles.
ADT segment 7 ends at the bottom of Heather Farm where the trail meets the Contra Costa Canal Trail. Segment 8 heads west along the canal. I think the break point of the two segments should actually be where the Contra Costa Canal Trail crosses the Iron Horse Trail. At that point, it is 0.3 miles north to Pleasant Hill BART station with BART and buses, or about 2 miles south to Walnut Creek BART station with BART and more buses. I realize many people dayhiking on the ADT just drive to trailheads, but the long distance hikers need transit access points and stores for resupply. I went to Pleasant Hill BART, took BART to Richmond, and home on the Capitol Corridor.
Photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157719235713289
ADT collection on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/collections/72157637788624964/
Other ADT blog posts: https://allisondan.wordpress.com/category/backpacking-hiking/american-discovery-trail/
I have been working on creating routes, traced on the trails in GaiaGPS, for the California segments. I am not making any claim that these always reflect the current route, nor match on-the-ground signing, but you may find them useful. I just purchased the 2018-04 version of the ADT California tracks and waypoints, and will be checking them against these routes over time.
ADT-CA-2: not completed