The hills of Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve east of Concord, California, have been returned to their natural state, making them ideal for hiking, birdwatching and other outdoor adventures.
It wasn't always like this: In the 1800s, a coal economy ruled the region. When the coal ran out, the miners moved on, leaving tombstones where towns once stood.
Mining resumed years later: this time they dug sand for a local glassmaker. Tours of the old silica sand mines are a popular fixture of Black Diamond Mines.
This track starts out in the parking lot on the old Somersville town site, passing the Rose Hill Cemetery and moving on to Nortonville, another town site lost to time.
Trails on this track: Nortonville Trail > Coal Canyon Trail > Black Diamond Way > Black Diamond Trail > Manhattan Canyon Trail > Chaparral Loop Trail
If you're not feeling ambitious, just wander around the network of trails near the mining sites closest to the parking lot.
Wear sunscreen; most of this hike is unshaded.
Contact the park: 888-327-2757, option 3, extension 4506
Mine tours are available spring, summer and fall; call 888-327-2757, option 2, then 3, for info on fees and scheduling.
Park hours: 8 a.m. to dusk
Parking Fee: Seasonal, weekends and some holidays: $5 per vehicle (when kiosk is attended).
Driving directions: Take Highway 4 in Contra Costa County to the Somersville Road exit in Antioch. Go south on Somersville Road to the park entrance.