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Hike Mission Peak and Catch Sunset

  • Apr 15, 2011 · 5:45 PM
  • Mission Peak Trail Head

IMPORTANT NOTE: The official hours of the Mission Peak Preserve are now 7 am until Dusk (which is generally interpreted as Civil Twilight). I have obtained permission to exit the park no later than 10 PM for this event. This may be the last sunset hike ever!

A City and A Mountain. Part A [5_024371-434g]

When you choose YES please indicate if you are DEFINITE about coming. Don't expect me to wait for you unless you indicate you're DEFINITE about being there. Also expect a BRISK hike as part of the purpose here is photography but the other part is TRAINING for longer, more arduous summer hiking.  The photo above is the view from where we are going (also see below).


Time Table

  • 5:45 PM Begin Hike
  • 7:28 PM Arrive at Location (this is a moderately slow pace of 1.5 miles per hour - but it may be aggressive for some people)
  • 7:43 PM Sunset
  • 8:09 PM End Civil Twilight
  • 8:30 PM Begin Hike Down
  • 8:42 PM End Nautical Twilight
  • 9:15 PM End Astronomical Twilight
  • 9:30 PM End of event 
  • 10:00 PM latest time to leave the area.


The best color always occurs about 20-30 minutes after sunset. The moon will be almost full. There is some Poison oak at a few points on this trail. Long pants and light gloves are recommended.

Astronomical Data

There are unlimited RSVPs spots. I reserve the right to also be a no show if no one indicates in their status that they are DEFINITE. [SADLY Meetup got rid of Maybe or you could have used Maybe to indicate your interest].


A Note About Weather

In the event of an unlikely 40% or better forecast for rain or thunderstorms I will not go on this hike. I will try to update this page two days in advance but use your own judgment please. As always YOU are responsible for your safety, not the organizers, assistant organizers or other members. Among other things, this means that you are responsible for being prepared, deciding what is or is not an acceptable risk to you and if you are physically fit enough to engage in any activity.


Mission Peak In High Dynamic Range [5_024238-42g]


You won't run out of ideas, I promise. If you do, just ask. I've been about 30 times and I still have items on my "to shoot" list. But sunset, views, flora and fauna, each other, rock formations, air traffic, hiker headlamps, street traffic, reflections, glowing orbs (they are up there!), turkeys, cattle, coyote (maybe), stars, summit angles, rolling hills, wilderness, SF, Oakland, Fremont, South Bay, radio towers, fog rolling in, moon... see - and I've just gotten started.



The hike will proceed up the steep Horse Heaven trail which proceeds down to the right (don't follow the main road to the left!) and then sharply up. See the heavy green line on this map. We will be going to one of my favorite spots about 4/5 of the way to the summit. This spot is along a heavily cattle trod fenceline about 50 yards off trail and about 2.6 miles from the starting point. We will return by the trail we take up making the trip about 5.2 miles in total. Our maximum elevation will be about 2,160 feet, 400 feet shy of the summit. Those not interested in photographing the sunset may decide to go to the summit instead.



The bottom is at 200 ft. This is a STEEP hike. The journey is comparable to going nearly all the way to the top of Nevada Falls along Yosemite's Mist Trail. At the bottom you may overheat. It can be 10 degrees colder and much windier at the final altitude. The setting sun will add a sharp drop in temperature. Our destination has some natural shelter from the wind. There is also a fair amount of poison oak around the rock formation. I will point out a different location for people who want to give the poison oak a wide berth. Be prepared with layers of clothing. See below for what to bring. Most people who walk or hike regularly take 90 minutes to reach the top but we're going about 4/5 of the way so 70 minutes is a reasonable pace. Less fit people may take as much as two hours. If you can't make it to the 4/5 place, there are some nice vistas below this along the path.  If this is your first hike, I suggest traveling as light as possible or skipping this altogether.



  • sturdy shoes (hiking boots recommended). A good tread is important to keep your footing.
  • headlamp - it will be dark on the way down.
  • warm sweater
  • windbreaker
  • small towel (to wipe off sweat and/or to sit on at the summit)
  • knit hat and
  • light gloves.
  • a liter of Gatorade or the equivalent (something with electrolytes is preferable to water!)
  • Snacks
  • Camera, tripod, film/memory cards, extra batter, strobe/flash if you like.
  • an extra pair of thick socks I also recommend having a full sized towel, a dry shirt and comfortable shoes to change into at the end of the hike.


Take 880 to Mission Boulevard. Follow Mission Boulevard under 680 and keep going. Stanford avenue and the park are well marked. Turn right at Stanford Avenue and follow it to the end where the trail head is.  To get there with public transit, click HERE.



The parking is free and there is often some at the end of Stanford Avenue... HOWEVER... the lot officially closes at 10:00 pm however if delayed we may not make it down until 10:30. I advise parking a block and a half down on Vineyard Avenue. See the map. There have been break ins to cars parked in the area so keep your valuables out of sight! Via the steep route there is only a bathroom at the trail head - we do not pass one further up.



Q: Do you ever arrange these hikes on a weekend?
A: Well, Friday is a weekend, right? The place is crowded on most weekends, however.

Q: How strenuous is it really?
A: Have you ever climbed 250 flights of steps? Well there you go ... except that steps are easier.

Q: How do I know if I'm ready to do this?
A: Are your feet, knees and ankles in good shape? Do you have the proper footwear and clothing? Can you walk up and down 20 flights of stairs (10 stories) in 15 minutes without dying?

Q: Is there something I should try before I attempt this?
A: Yes, try 10 flights of stairs two or three times. Then try making it up the main trail on Mission Peak to the 3rd bench in less than 50 minutes.

Q: What's it like up there?
A: Gorgeous. Spiritual even. You have to see it to know.

Q: Steven, I hear you give out "awards" to people who make it to the summit for the first time.
A: Yep, I take peoples photos at the summit - but we're not planning to go there on this hike.

Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    ALL: The EBParks has not changed their signage on this park. It still says 5am to 10pm for the park hours. THEREFORE I humbly suggest that you may continue to use the park during the posted hours. Just be sure to check the sign before you head up.

    April 30, 2011

  • May

    Thank you Steven for organizing and keeping us psyched along the way! I had a great time. Thank you Jeff for keeping me company. It is always fun shooting with you! Let's go again!!

    April 16, 2011

  • Sathish J

    It was a great hike with lot of photographic opportunities

    April 16, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks Steven, it was another great hike up Mission Peak.

    April 16, 2011

  • Tyler H.

    Well organized and great company.

    April 16, 2011

  • Jeff G.

    Nice location and hiking conditions were near ideal. My only regrets were arriving late and not having tidy pack. I will make it to the top next time...

    April 16, 2011

  • larry p.

    Just saw the images...nice work!

    April 16, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sporting group. I enjoyed the company and the great view. Sunset was sweet and the fog rolling in was compelling, too.

    April 16, 2011

  • Vinayak

    Steven I'll be there. Couldn't RSVP as deadline has passed..Sorry, wasnt sure if I would be able to get out of office early and beat 880 traffic...

    April 15, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    I just joined this group today so ther reservation is full. Can I go there to meet you guys up?

    April 15, 2011

  • Jeff G.

    I'm OK with either end point, so long a we get a chance to take a few sunset photos...

    April 12, 2011

  • A former member

    A former member changed the time from 6:00 PM to 5:45 PM

    April 12, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    @Folks, no need to say you're not coming - it needlessly clutters this space. @chris R - no comment. @Joost - Use Google Maps in transit mode. Looks like you can take bus 217 or 239 from Fremont Bart and get to the beginning of Stanford Avenue. Then you've got an extra 3/4 of a mile to the trail head.

    April 11, 2011

  • chris R

    Can we get some more details for the event?

    April 10, 2011

  • Ken M.

    Hi Steven
    Sorry, have prior commitments, but would like to take a rain check on this. Please let me know in advance on your next event and I will try and make it. I want to tell you have done an excellent job on this meet up page, very thorough.

    April 10, 2011

  • Deborah

    Ah nuts! I have my last class for West Valley Spring Photography Field Studies on the 15th 6pm-8pm. I have to go to that!
    If the weather is good I'm planning to hike MP Monday late afternoon early evening so I'll get one good hike in this week.

    April 9, 2011

  • A former member

    A former member changed the location for this Meetup

    April 9, 2011

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