Tarantula Time at Mount Diablo

Look for male arachnids as they look for mates.

WHILE MANY SIGNS OF AUTUMN... are as garish and as bright as the giant orange jack o'lantern that takes up residence in front of the local grocery store, some are far more subtle, and fascinating, and natural, and tied to the rhythms of the season. For sure, changing foliage could apply here, as that's natural and seasonal, but we speak of a certain famous arachnid's late-summer search for a mate. It's the tarantula, one of the many well-known residents of Mount Diablo State Park. Tarantulas and the Walnut Creek-close area have a long history, in fact; a science expedition back in the 1800s reported on the furry scurriers, saying they grow to "the size of a half-grown mouse" and come complete with "fangs the size of a rattlesnake's." Eek?

WANT TO HEAD OUT... and take a contemplative and adventure-fun August evening hike, one that's built around spying any male tarantulas as they go a-courtin' (as they do in late summer), then clear Saturday, Aug. 27 on your special tarantula-specific calendar. (We'll just assume you have one.)

IT'S A THREE-MILER... that'll last a pinch under three hours, and a pair of knowledgable guides from the Mount Diablo Interpretative Association will lead the way and provide on-the-go info. Should you layer-up, bring water, bring granola bars or what have you, and stow a flashlight in your bag? All that. You should also be a grown-up, as this is an adults-only thing. There's a Twilight Hike in the area, by the by, on Aug. 13, if you want to focus on a wider range of critters, from bats to owls.

BUT TARANTULAS, those handsome harbingers of fall, get all the love, as they look for love, on the final Saturday in August. That surely will beat, date-wise, the giant pumpkin appearing at your local grocery store's parking lot, as far as fall foretellings go. We think? Regardless, signs of autumn don't come more arachnid-awesome, nor furry, nor fabulous. 

WANT TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT? Email ken_lavin@hotmail.com or sweettrails00@gmail.com. The cost is six bucks for your vehicle.

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