Seen from the suburbs of Fremont, Mission Peak with its distinctive pyramid-shaped cap looks treeless and barren — not an especially inviting place to go hiking. But visit the park on a nice day and it becomes clear why it’s one of the most popular places to go hiking in the Bay Area. The sunny, invigorating hike to the peak is relatively short, yet it offers a great workout and superb views over the South Bay region. Exploring off the main trail reveals surprising little pockets of woodland that offer refreshing breaks from the roasting sunshine, and even little creeks that miraculously flow even in summer.
Mission Peak does, however, get hot. Even though Fremont is one of the cooler cities in the area, on summer afternoons the west-facing slope of Mission Peak catches the sun and turns into a furnace, becoming much hotter than the city itself. I find it too hot to hike if the forecast high is above 85 degrees.
* * * Horse Heaven from Stanford Ave (7.5 miles, 2680 ft)
The Horse Heaven route to Mission Peak is much more difficult but also much more scenic than the normal Hidden Valley route.
* * Mission Peak and Hidden Valley from Stanford Avenue (6.1 miles, 2115 ft)
This is the normal route. It’s one of the most popular trails in the entire Bay Area, with superb views, lots of sunshine, and lots of climbing.
* The Peak Trail from Ohlone College (7.1 miles, 2170 ft)
The park is trying to convince everyone to use the Ohlone College trailhead instead of Stanford Avenue, since the college has plenty of parking, but the route isn’t as scenic.
* * Eagle Spring Backpack Camp ($5, open all year)
This trail camp is just below the very popular Mission Peak, on a small hilltop with a fine view of the Sunol Valley and (at night) the lights of the cars on Highway 680.
Fremont doesn’t look very interesting if you just drive through it, but it turns out to have an exceptional concentration of independent restaurants and bakeries.
© 2012, 2017, 2019 David Baselt