The extremely popular Mission Peak trail located in Fremont, California is a challenging hike to some of the most spectacular views in the state. While the trek itself is difficult, hot, and steep, the promise of the panoramic vista makes it a regular bucket list item for many die-hard hikers and photographers.
The Mission Peak Trail itself is part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, which contains other a multitude of others like the Peak Trail, accessible from Ohlone College and part of a 550-mile multi-use trail through the San Francisco Bay area. You can also hike the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, 29 miles of hiking through the Ohlone Wilderness, but you need a permit for this hike. Yet, even with these other trails accessible to choose from, Mission Peak is by far the most pawpular choice.
Experienced hikers may choose to explore other parts of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, including the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness with Elderberry and Devil’s Hole, a six-mile loop trail. Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park is comprised of multiple trails through its 11-mile round-trip expanse through a variety of ecosystems. It has over 1,000 feet of total elevation change, so be careful! There is also the Sunol Regional Wilderness, a trail loop that goes through many different types of land and has a very large elevation gain in its 7.9 miles round-trip trek.
All of these trails have multiple cautionary signs and have been known to be very dangerous to dogs. In fact, sadly, many dogs die on these trails every year due to dehydration and heat stroke.
With all of the other choices, Mission Peak remains the one most used. The three-mile trail goes up almost half of a mile, ending in a pole that victorious hikers can climb for a much-deserved selfie or other picture to serve as a permanent reminder of their dedication and triumph over Mission Peak.
The trail itself is very dry and sparse, and there is no shade, so hikers need to really plan ahead. While three miles may normally be a piece of cake for you, the steep incline and harsh sun can make it difficult. Don't forget to consider Fido's well-being, too. Your furry companion is likely going to be extra uncomfortable and hot, and the sun's rays will be absorbed by the ground, making their sensitive paws painful.
Yet, if you plan ahead carefully, stay hydrated, and take care of Fido along the way, the view at the top is worth all of the effort. You will see a panoramic view of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. If you are lucky and get there at the right time of year, you may also experience the gorgeous view from the top of Mission Peak to the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
Right now, the park access and trail use are free. Because of its popularity, though, the park's administrators are considering applying fees and permits to hit the trails, so call ahead if you are concerned about the price of admission.
There are currently two main entrances: one at Ohlone College, where you can park year-round from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and access over 900 parking spaces, and one at Stanford Avenue, open December 23 to March 31, with only 43 parking spaces.
Since this trail ends in a beautiful vista, it is quite pawpular, especially on the weekends. However, thousands of people on average come to hike the trail, but there are only 43 parking spaces at the main entrance on Stanford Avenue. Parking is at a premium here. Many hikers park along the streets, but be careful -- residents can get upset if you block their driveways. Parking at Ohlone College costs $4 on weekdays.