Why we love it: We barely scratched the surface of Mount Diablo State Park, exploring the Rock City area of the park – the Wind Caves, Elephant Rock, and Sentinel Rock! We scrambled, bouldered, and took in the odd and fascinating landscape formed by sandstone sculpted by wind and rain.
For the Young Ones (0-10): There are places to picnic throughout the park, and if you can snag one of the picnic tables at Elephant Rock it’s a great spot for the little ones just to explore nature, and for those a little bit older (or classified as a “Big Kid” below) to climb and run around the area. Elephant Rock and the Wind Caves are both super easy to get to and are fun without being much of a hike. (At Elephant Rock you park right upon it, and there’s a parking lot close to the Wind Caves, with the Caves a few yards away.)
We saw some pretty young ones on the route to and from Sentinel Rock, but I’d recommend the adults be experienced hikers. The level of difficulty could be deemed on the line between beginner and moderate, but there are parts where there is no clear trail, there aren’t trail markers, and you will need to rely on maps, GPS, instinct, or other hikers.
For the Big Kids (10+): If you have some daredevils, they can climb over and through the Wind Caves and some surrounding rocks, and all over Elephant Rock. Over time, footholds have formed that make it easy to get up high. Once on top, there are incredible views – you can see others scrambling and bouldering all over the other rocks that peak out over the trees and brush.
If you decide to hike to Sentinel Rock, you have the reward of using cables to get you to the top (I don’t know why, but using cables always gets me pumped!), and a beautiful view once you’re all the way up!
Keep in Mind:
- Again, hiking to Sentinel Rock you may come across parts where there is no clear trail, there aren’t trail markers, and you will need to rely on maps, GPS, instinct, or other hikers. Know your own abilities and experience. We started from the camping grounds near Elephant Rock, but I think it would have been easier to start from Rock City.
- As with all state parks, there’s an entrance fee.
- There is some poison oak along the way; it’s always good to review with the kids what it looks like. Since our son was able to hike on his own, he’s known to be aware of where he places his hands and feet. Pants and tall socks are always a good idea to help avoid pesky plants and insects.
Around the Area: There’s plenty around the area, but we were wishing just to have more time in the park! I have a feeling our family may plan a camping trip here in the future…
Difficulty Level: Beginner – Moderate, depending on what you take on.