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Mission Peak at a Snail's Pace: 8-Mile Steep Hike (No Dogs)

Enjoy views of Mount Hamilton to the south, the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west, Mt. Tamalpais to the north, and Mt. Diablo and the Sierra Nevada to the northeast from the top of Mission Peak. 

This is a steep trek 4 miles up and 4 miles down along Peak's Trail beginning at the Ohlone College Parking Lot. This hike is more gradual and less steep than the Stanford Avenue trailhead. Peak's Trail adds an extra couple of miles to the hike -- but it's worth it! 

Trailhead elevation is about 400 feet. The park's high point is about 2517 feet; total elevation change for this hike is about 2200 feet.

While this route is more gradual than other alternatives, it's still strenuous with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. It'll be a major struggle for beginners. Bring enough water and snacks to sustain your energy level.


Abundant parking at Ohlone College on the weekend makes this trailhead a welcome alternative to the Stanford Avenue entrance, which fills quickly and forces hikers to park on side streets where car break-ins have been common over the years. 

There's also a bit more shade on this route compared to other trails to the summit. 

Don't be surprised if you see deer and coyotes the ground and raptors and vultures soaring overhead.

The Peak Trail from Ohlone College is an enjoyable hike to the summit that passes a horse corral, and through shaded woodlands and open grasslands. This trail is part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, a planned 550+-mile multi-use trail (currently over 330 miles are complete) along the hill and mountain ridgelines ringing the San Francisco Bay Area.

Parking fee: $2. Buy parking pass from vending machine in Lot B. Parking lot vending machines take cash or credit cards. 

Parking: Ohlone College Parking Lot M, N, O or P.  Ohlone College Parking Lot is the only safe place to park. 

Meeting point: From the parking lot, look for a sign pointing to Ohlone Trail. We will meet at the information signboard with map.

Getting there:

Driving directions: From I-880, take the northern Mission Boulevard exit (Exit 16) and turn southeast on Mission Boulevard, continuing for three-quarters of a mile; turn into the college; buy parking pass from vending machine in Lot B; park in lots M, N, O or P.

Requirements: Bring flashlights just in case it takes us more than 4 hours. Bring snacks and plenty of water. 

Tips:

 


Use plenty of sunscreen, and dress for weather that can shift rapidly over the course of a day. Gale-force winds often pound the peak, so at least one wind-proof layer is worth taking along.

 

Cattle often graze throughout Mission Peak Regional Preserve -- give them plenty of space and don't come between mothers and their calves, or you could get charged.

ExposureAlmost completely exposed.

Trail trafficModerate. 

Trail surfaces: Dirt fire roads and trails.

Season: Muddy in winter, hot in summer, best in spring.

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, stores, pay phone, and restaurants back to the southwest on Mission Boulevard. No camping in the park, but Mission Peak is the gateway to the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, a backpacking trek requiring advance reservations.

Rules
:
Most trails are multi-use. A few are open to hikers and horses only (and of course, cows). Park is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., unless otherwise posted.

The Official Story
:
EBRPD's Mission Peak page.
EBRPD headquarters[masked]-PARK

Map/book choices:
 This hike is described and mapped in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco, by Jane Huber. Order this book from Amazon.com
• Map from EBRPD
• Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of a Carquinez Strait hike. 
• David Weintraub's East Bay Trails has a good map and descriptions of this hike (order this book from Amazon.com).
• The Bay Area Ridge Trail, by Jean Rusmore (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and descriptions of the Mission Peak segment of the Ridge Trail. 


Mission Peak in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

• View photos from this hike.

(Text above and below quoted from Jane Huber's Bay Area Hiker Web site.)

I've always thought that climbing a bay area peak is somehow more palatable when I can see the summit from the trailhead, and throughout the hike. When I have a mountain in my sights, it can't get away from me, and throw an unexpected sharp grade at me when I'm not looking. And then there's the visual inspiration to hold my attention as I'm slogging my way uphill toward the goal. Motivation is a key element when you prepare to climb Mission Peak the first time (and perhaps after that as well). Fit hikers should have not problem with this 8-mile hike, and beginners in reasonable shape may find the ascent tough, but manageable, with proper pacing and plenty of water. 
      Hikes at Mission Peaks are best taken on cool days. There is virtually no shade on the ascending fire road and trail. No escaping chilly winds either, so bring a windbreaker or jacket along. 
      Although the park is grazed by cows (some of whom are particularly aggressive), the lush green hills bring wildflower lovers to Mission Peak in spring. The cows create muddy trails during wet months, and lumpy paths later when things dry out a bit. There is so much cow traffic that in late winter I found Horse Heaven Trail to be a difficult to navigate sloppy mess where I nearly expired in a quicksand-like mud trap probably rigged by the cows (more on that later). This is one park where it may be better to stick to the fire roads.
     
     

Parking lotHidden Valley TrailOne of park's feisty cows on Hidden Valley TrailA rare flat stretchApproaching junction with Eagle TrailPeak TrailView south from the summitA view back to Mission Peak from Horse Heaven Trail

(Text above quoted from Jane Huber's Bay Area Hiker Web site.)

Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    The hike was a bit challenging but fun and with a nice group of friendly energetic people. Thanks George!

    November 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm at the parking lot and don't know where to go. ..:-(

    November 16, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Meet across street from lot M

      November 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    At sign across from lot M

    November 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Is there a phone number to call?

    November 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm here. I don't know where the info sign is. Not seeing it.

    November 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi George, we are on our way and Mission Blvd is a bit traffic. Pls wait for us. Thank you.

    November 16, 2013

  • Katherine

    Yep, still in knee and foot pain so have to sit this one out. Pretty bummed, this looks wonderful. Please enjoy all :) Take pictures so the rest of us can live vicariously through them!

    November 16, 2013

  • Barbara S

    My back got tweeked last Sunday so I'd better find something a bit less challenging; I've wanted to do Mission Peak for ages, so regret that I can't join you - have a wonderful time and spectacular views :-)

    November 16, 2013

  • Stacey S.

    Sorry, so nice decided to ride my moto instead. Have a great hike and hope to meet you all at another.

    November 16, 2013

  • Selina

    Anyone would like to carpool from the peninsula?

    November 14, 2013

  • George

    Parking

    Enter the Ohlone campus from Mission Boulevard by turning onto Pine Street. When you pass the tennis courts and see the brown trailhead signpost ahead on the right, turn left into the 'M' lot and park. There are two $2 ticket vending machines here, and plenty of parking. We will meet at the trailhead across the street from the lot.

    November 11, 2013

  • Elena C

    Hi. I have to go out of town this weekend now. Bummed I will have to miss this hike.

    November 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'd really like to conquer this hike, but I haven't been too active lately. Can any more experienced hikers offer some advice? Would it be better to try something easier to start? Any help is appreciated!

    November 10, 2013

    • George

      Liz, if you haven't been hiking lately, this might not be the best one to start with. Several sustained steep trail segments, a rocky scramble to the top, and the possibility of darkness on the way down.

      November 10, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks for your input. I think I'll wait for the next (easier) hike.

      November 11, 2013

  • Stacey S.

    I have not done this hike before, looking forward to conquering one of what I have been told is the more difficult hikes in the East Bay.

    September 16, 2013

  • Koji

    I have been waiting for a hike with dogs on Saturday.
    Thank you Zeta for arranging this one!

    September 15, 2013

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