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Bay Area Tourist Reviews: Mount Diablo State Park
On July 3rd, we visited Mount Diablo State Park.

First, we stopped at the lower parking area near Rock City, a collection of interestingly weathered rock formations. We decided we'd hike out to Balancing Rock, then drive up to the summit and try the interpretive trail around it.

Balancing Rock turned out to be rather further away than we thought, and not too terribly impressive:

Not so much a 'balancing' rock as a 'tall' rock.

However, we did get to see a very neat little dell with multi-colored grass, a great big thistle, a tree that looked like a horse, another sort of tree with spiffy curling bark, and giant pinecones of doom:

This pinecone is almost as big as Andres' head. And that's big!

Because the hike out to the rock was further than we thought, we were pretty tired when we got back to the car (even with a break for tasty picnic lunch out on the trail, and a further break upon reaching the picnic area near the parking to lie down on a bench and recover for a while). Therefore, we decided to skip the summit trail, and instead just checked out the view from the top and poked around the nifty little Civilian Conservation Corps lighthouse / visitor center there. (It was closed, but the outside of the building was reasonably interesting.)

So on the whole a quite satisfying trip. Can't say I recommend the Balancing Rock, but the views are pretty spectacular and the hiking is nice.

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You should really try Castle Rock Park, and its sister park across the road. It's out Skyline Blvd (35) just south of Hwy 9 and both the Summit Rock hike and the Castle Rock hike are pretty ones with a fabulous view from many of the hiking end points within both parks, and there are a lot of lovely little dips and hollows you can find. I go out there as often as I can make it.

Also, that pine cone is as big as his HEAD.

It's not quite that big (it's a little closer to the camera than his head is), but it's pretty close. There were lots more than that one, both in the forested part and up on the top of the hill.

Of doom, indeed! That is a tremendous pinecone.

I still haven't shown you the pinecone bit that demonstrates how they masquerade cleverly as maple seeds, have I?

ah, monterey pine cones of doom.

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