Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

April 9, 2012
Various trails at Black Diamond Mines
Total distance:  5 miles

I was in the Bay Area visiting family and had the opportunity to hike with my sons, Michael and Andrew.  We chose the trails at Black Diamond Mines located in the hills of Antioch, CA.  Black Diamond was the site of an active coal mining town in the late 19th century.

It was a perfect day for a hike, in the mid-60s and breezy enough to cool us from the uphill exertion of 800 feet.  Most of the trail was fully exposed to the sun.

Nortonville Trail

Nortonville Trail

We began at the Nortonville trailhead and walked past cows who were resting in the shade of an oak tree.  We stopped at the historic Rose Hill Cemetery—former residents of the area, then continued downhill until we reached the Black Diamond trail.

Rose Hill Cemetery

Rose Hill Cemetery

Spotting a big black thing hanging from a tree, we cautiously approached it until we realized that it was a humming beehive.

The beehive.

The beehive.

From the Black Diamond trail, shaded with a few walnut trees, we came to a detour, Coal Canyon trail.  This trail led to an underground dwelling called, Jim’s Place.  We explored the cave-like dwelling.  It had a square skylight, a round stovepipe hole, and a shelf opening.

Andrew and Michael inside Jim's Place.

Andrew and Michael inside Jim’s Place.

From Jim’s Place, we continued downhill on the twisted, narrow canyon trail and saw a variety of wildflowers including: paintbrush, poppies, lupine, and shooting stars.

Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars

The trail ended at the bottom of a grassy canyon where we sat for a while.  At the other end of the canyon was Black Diamond trail.  We retraced our steps from there and headed back to the car having walked 5.0 miles.

Andrew and Janet in the canyon.

Andrew and Janet in the canyon.

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