• Ankit Jain

Trip Report: Black Diamond Mines

More Backpacking Adventures in California's Beautiful East Bay



Trip Report August continues with Pathloom Fearless Leader's recent trip to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, CA. Check out this and many other great backpacking adventure videos on the Pathloom YouTube Channel! We've got many more videos planned for the future, subscribe to get notifications for when they go online! If you've gone on an epic backpacking trip recently and want to tell our readers about it, we'd love to feature you on a guest blog! E-mail blog@pathloom.com for more info.


Trip Info:



trail map of Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, CA


Overview:


Hiking in the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve is considered to be easy to moderate overall. This overnight backpacking trip is a great way to get out and explore the various parts of the area. Located at the foothills of Mount Diablo, the trail offers rolling hills, ridges, tunnels and other historical landmarks.


This region of the Bay Area was established as a Regional Preserve in 1976. It is the historical home of the Ompin, Volvon, and Julpun tribes. With the arrival of European colonists in the early 1700's, most of the land was converted to cattle ranches, until the establishment of the eponymous coal mines in the 1850's. From then until the early 1900's, coal miners as young as 8 years old were employed to extract nearly 4 million tons of 'black diamonds' from underneath these rolling hills. The area was later converted to sand mines before resuming its role as ranch lands from the 1940's until today.


The trail starts at the parking lot of the visitor center and park residence and traverses through small hills. There is water available at the campsite, however it requires filtration. I made a loop hike on this trip by taking the Railroad Bed Trail and Miners Trail to the campsite and taking the Carbondale Trail on the way back to the parking lot. I also hiked around and explored some tunnels past the campsite going toward Prospect Tunnel and Star Mine Group Camp.


Rolling hills under beautiful fluffy wispy clouds at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, CA

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve: Antioch, CA - Photo Credit: Ankit Jain

Trip Planning:


Permits:


Backpacking permits in this area take the form of fees for parking ($5 per car, payable at parking lot kiosk), and fees for camping (see section below). Dogs are permitted (on leash) on the preserve's trails for a $2 fee per dog.


Camping:


There are two backpacking campgrounds in the park: Stewartville Backpack Camp and Star Mine Group Camp. The fee for the Stewartville Backpack Camp is $5 per night per person. Reservations are required at least five days in advance, and can be made by calling 1-888-EBPARKS (1-888-327-2757). Star Mine Group Camp is reserved for 'organized, educational' groups only, so may be best avoided for backpacking adventures such as this one.


Short, stubby sandstone cliffs at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, CA

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve: Antioch, CA - Photo Credit: Ankit Jain



Itinerary:


Day 1: Visitor Center → Stewartville Backpack Camp


Drove to the visitor center and parked my vehicle. Took the Railroad Bed Trail to the Ridge Trail junction where my hiking buddy and I stopped for a quick lunch. Afterwards, we continued on the Miners Trail towards Stewartville Backpack Camp, where my hiking buddy headed back towards the car while I set up shop to camp for the night. There was an outhouse and one campsite, which required a reservation to utilize. Along the way, we caught views of the back side of Mount Diablo and Stewartville Township.


Total Distance: 3.3 miles



Day 2: Stewartville Backpack Camp Prospect Tunnel Visitor Center


Woke up early around sunrise and made some quick breakfast before heading out for a hike to visit Prospect Tunnel. Though the first 200 feet of this pitch-black tunnel are open for exploration, I only went about half that far in before it became too dark to proceed any further - so I headed back towards came to pack up my equipment. Once back at camp, I packed everything up, and hiked out to the Ridge Trail junction. From there, I took the Carbondale Trail back to the parking lot and drove out - a slighty different route on the way out so I could explore even more of this beautiful region.


Total Distance: 4.2 miles


Ankit's tent set up at Stewartville Campsite under the trees at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, CA

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve: Antioch, CA - Photo Credit: Ankit Jain



Gear:


Backpack & Storage:


Hiking:


Shelter:


Sleep System:


Camp Kitchen:


Food:


Hydration:


Clothing:


Tools, Electronics and Miscellaneous:


Hygiene:


Emergency/First Aid:


We've decided to name this fine black cow Howard and dub him Lord of the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, CA

Howard, Lord of the Black Diamond Mines: Antioch, CA - Photo Credit: Ankit Jain


Check out this and many other great backpacking adventure videos on the Pathloom YouTube Channel! We've got many more videos planned for the future, subscribe to get notifications for when they go online! If you've gone on an epic backpacking trip recently and want to tell our readers about it, we'd love to feature you on a guest blog! E-mail blog@pathloom.com for more info.

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