Route: Tam to Diablo (CA)

California, US
63.89 mi
Vertical Gain
10,804 ft

Starting at Stinson Beach, this route links Mt Tam with Mt Diablo, the two most significant summits for runners in the Bay Area.  Any route may be used, but Von Stroh recommends the following (105km):

Start at sand's edge behind Siren Cafe in Stinson Beach, go up Dipsea Trail to Cardiac, over to Pantoll, then along Matt Davis and Nora to West Point Inn. Then take the Railroad Grade Fire Trail to the Mt. Tamalpais summit. From the summit lookout tower, take the scramble down to the paved trail and then connect over to the "widow maker" descent (where the sign says trail ends in 400 feet). The Widowmaker crosses Eldridge Grade Trail and Indian Fire Trail several times until connecting with Blithedale Ridge Trail. Follow that until dropping into Larkspur on the neighborhood streets to connect with the paved bike path that goes along the canals through Corte Madera. Continue across the bike path to reach the Larkspur Landing Ferry, follow Sir Francis Drake past San Quentin and along the freeway shoulder bikepath briefly to go under the freeway to access the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. From the far side of the bridge cross over into Point Richmond and then through city streets to get to Alvarado Staging Area (route followed Cutting, Marina, MacDonald, 25th, Barrett, 32nd, and then McBride). From Alvarado Staging Area, turn uphill on Belgum Trail and continue along the ridgeline towards Nimitz Way until the EBMUD gate for Eagle's Nest trail, which drops you down to San Pablo Reservoir. Follow Old San Pablo Dam Road Trail until turning on Bear Creek Trail to head up to the Briones Overlook Staging Area. Continue on Bear Creek trail to the dirt parking lot and then follow the road up to Briones Park and Bear Creek Staging Area. Entering into the park, follow Seaborg Trail and then connect with Lafayette Ridge Trail through the undulating hills and down to Lafayette Ridge Staging Area. Follow the neighborhood streets (Stanley and Springbrook) to connect with Mt Diablo Blvd under the freeway. Follow Mt Diablo Blvd through downtown Walnut Creek until it becomes Walker Ave and then turn on Homestead Ave to get to Howe Homestead Park. From Howe Homestead, follow the foothills trail system until reaching Stage Rd. Follow Stage Rd until finally turning uphill on Burma Rd. Cross North Gate Rd (an actual road, not fire trail) and continue on the steepest part of Burma Rd and follow it all the way to Juniper campground. From the far end of the campground, take Juniper Trail up to the lower summit parking lot. Then continue uphill to the true Diablo summit.

Submitted by David Von Stroh

VARIATION 6/10/20:  Summit to Summit.  

(Editor Note: Instead of starting down at Stinson Beach, going up Mt Tam, and then running to and finishing at Mt Diablo, this Variation may be more logical as it starts on the summit of Tam and finishes on the summit of Diablo.  The former is 65.56mi and the latter is 54.35mi. The respective routes approximate each other but differ by about 40% on the ground. They both have an Elevation Gain of about 6,400' between the summits only.)

The general concept of the route is simple: Start from the door at the lookout at East Peak on Mt. Tamalpais, and finish touching the door at the visitors center lookout of Mt. Diablo. It's a point-to-point 50(+) miler where you can see the exact finish line from the start!

Detailed description of route:

Start at the East Peak Lookout, descend the scramble section toward Indian Ladder (a.k.a. widowmaker). Follow trail down to Blithedale Ridge Fire Rd., and follow Blithedale until you reach a trail to drop down to where Piedmont Trail meets Dawn Falls trail. Proceed down Madrone Ave headed toward Larkspur. Zig-zag onto William Ave., and then onto the Corte Madera Larkspur Path, and take the path to the end and make a left onto Redwood Highway frontage Road. Follow the road to Sir Francis Drake and follow road to, and across, the Richmond Bridge. Follow bike path to Cutting Blvd, and make a left onto 2nd street, followed by a right onto the Richmond Greenway. Take the greenway across Richmond, connecting with the Ohlone Greenway, making a left on Conlon Ave. headed toward Canyon Trail Park. Jordan St, Tamalpais Ave., and Arlington Blvd will take you to Aqua Vista Rd., where there is a connecting trail to Wildcat Creek Trail. Follow trail to Conlon Trail, ascending up to Rotary Peace Grove Overlook, connecting with Nimitz Way, on to Inspiration Trail descending into EMBUD watershed and the Old San Pablo Dam road. Follow that down to Orusan Trail along the Briones Reservoir (permit needed), until you can cross Bear Creek Road into Briones Regional Park. Take Briones Road to Seaborg Trail, making a right onto the Lafayette Ridge Trail. Follow the entire Lafayette ridge trail until you reach the parking lot at Pleasant Hill Road. Follow the path to the North on Pleasant Hill Rd., connecting to the Briones to Mt. Diablo Regional Trail. Follow the entire Briones to Mt. Diablo Regional Trail through Larkey Park and Heather Farms Park and the trail will naturally lead you through Shell Ridge into Mt Diablo State Park and to Wall Point Rd. Ascend Wall Point Rd to Summit Trail, and take Summit Trail to the top. Clock stops when you touch the upper door at the Summit Visitors Center.

I wanted to try to link together a lot of local trails (dirt/paved) in their entirety and to use roads as little as possible, so my route features use of the Richmond Greenway in its entirety (as opposed to a zig zag across residential streets), the full Lafayette Ridge Trail, and the full Briones to Mt Diablo Regional Trail). My door to door route also features a fun spiritual midpoint at Wildcat Peak. Lastly this is an FKT meant to be finished under/around 10 hours as opposed to the existing route of just under 20. In theory, door to door can be started and finished in daylight while both parks are open.

Submitter: Franz van der Groen


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Woot! <3

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I've been discussing this route with David for a while, now that so many folks have tried it (including an unlisted FKT for mixed team heading the opposite direction that I really should submit ?).

Our primary concern is that currently this route allows for *too* much variability. If one so chose, the shortest route between the top of Tam and the top of Diablo is a mere 46 miles of almost entirely road running and only 7k feet of gain. Clearly such a route would be significantly faster (and less interesting) than the attempts so far that have focused on trail connections.

A secondary concern is that currently this route is significantly "uphill" when starting from Stinson Beach and significantly "downhill" when starting from Diablo (~4,500 ft differential). While there is an elevation difference of ~1300ft just linking the summits, this difference becomes more pronounced if one terminus is a summit while the other is not. Therefore, and in keeping with the "straight line course" we have today, we feel a new Eastern terminus should be proposed near the base of the mountain for "point to point" records (summit-to-summit would continue to be the respective doors of the lookouts). The base of Diablo is between 170-250m above Sea Level in most locations, allowing for a location that while still netting "downhill" (~900ft) significantly reduces the advantage of running towards the Sea.

A tertiary motivating factor in adjusting the eastern route terminus has to do with logistics: while parking and access at Stinson Beach is possible 24hrs a day, road access to Diablo's summit or below-summit staging areas is not possible after sunset and before sunrise. This has meant that attempts thus far have had to either (1) descend after summiting Diablo, (2) run overnight so as to arrive at Diablo before Sunset, or (3) had cars locked in to the summit lot (some of which have made it out by calling the park rangers). Bringing the eastern terminus to a point not subject to these access issues simplifies the logistics by expanding the range of start/finish times.

Lastly, as we've discussed how to refine this FKT, we've desired to keep a high level of flexibility in the routing, so long as that flexibility didn't lead to there being ways to extremely shorten the route.

To this end I've come up with the following proposal for 5 waypoints runners must hit in addition to the summits and the eastern/western terminus points. These waypoints were selected to allow for a large amount of variability in route design while still keeping the final routes roughly equitable. In addition to the waypoints, three roads are specifically disallowed.

Note: Not all existing attempts would have hit all of these waypoints (though over half of them did, and all but Damien's hit's them all except for 1). Existing records should stand, none are so fast yet that others won't come along and run faster even on a longer course, though if we adopt this we should note on the attempts what waypoints were missed for future explorers.

  • Western Terminus: Stinson Beach on boardwalk by the bathrooms behind the diner.
    • note: Attempts should not make use of Ridgecrest Blvd to Ascend/Descent Tam, below the intersection of Railroad Grade.
  • Western Summit: The Door of the lookout tower on East Peak of Tam
  • Waypoint 1: The Stone gateway to Alvarado Park
    • note: Attempts should not make use of Bear Creek Road except for the short stretch between The Bear Creek Trailhead and Bear Creek Staging.
  • Waypoint 2: The end of Briones Rd in Bear Creek Staging (where it hits Seaborg Trail)
    • note: Attempts should not make use of Springhill Road. This effectively limits this portion of the route to Lafayette Ridge Trail.
  • Waypoint 3: Lafayette Ridge Staging Area
  • Waypoint 4: Contra Costa Canal Trail @ Heather Farm Park
  • Waypoint 5: Top of Ridge Top Trail in Shell Ridge
  • Eastern Summit: Upper Door of Mt. Diablo Lighthouse
  • Eastern Terminus: Three Springs Staging Area

I'll be reaching out to all current record holders for input here, and if there's agreement I'll be submitting upgraded guidance, a new GPX track (though users are still encouraged to design their own route!), and the list of the specific GPS coordinates (waypoints) that must be reached.


Locations of these points: