The Peak Trail
Length 8.0 miles Climbing 2220 feet
The north approach to Mission Peak, from Ohlone College, isn't quite as scenic as the more popular west approach, although it does have more of a "back woods" feel and also more variety, curving around to the wooded back side of the mountain where there are views of the endless rolling brown hills to the east. The grand view of the Bay Area is dramatically revealed near the end. Another nice thing about this route is that it isn't quite as busy as the west approach, although the route is still pretty popular, with about a group every five minutes on a nice summer weekend.
The trail starts at Ohlone College. Rather than trying to park on-campus, which requires paying a fee, just part on Mission Boulevard next to the campus and walk the half-mile to the trailhead (as a side trip, you can go see the nearby mission).
The trail immediately starts climbing an open hillside. From below come the sounds of team workouts on the college's playing fields. This part of the hike gets very hot in the afternoon; on the way back, trudging down the hot, dry trail, I always imagine how good it would feel to take a dip in the nearby Ohlone College swimming pool, clearly visible below the trail, but sadly it's not open to the public.
Although the altitude is still pretty low, there are some pretty nice views west and north of Fremont and the Fremont Hills from this part of the trail.
There's a small trail network above Ohlone College that can make for some very enjoyable hiking.
Curving around the hillside, the trail enters a ravine and passes under the welcome shade of a few trees. The trail then continues to climb through the ravine without the benefit of any shade.
Passing a dried-up pond, the dirt road becomes a singletrack trail that runs through a longer and very welcome wooded stretch. This part of the trail also runs alongside a road, but the trees are such a welcome change that it hardly matters. Soon the trail breaks out of the forest cover, though, and becomes a dirt road again, climbing incessantly over a bare, treeless, grassy slope. It's common to hear gunshots or other noise from one of the private properties below.
The best part of the hike is the high-elevation loop.
At the beginning of this loop, the route meets the western route and begins a steep climb up peak. After reaching the summit, where there's almost always a small crowd, continue down the other side; the crowds immediately drop away and you find yourself in a much quieter, more relaxing environment.
Turn left at each trail intersection to circle back alongside the long peak. The trail descends, then gently ascends, through sun-baked grasslands with some nice views to the west.
After reaching the end of the loop, return the way you came.
© 2012 David Baselt