Mission Peak Regional Reserve

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Sweat your way to the top of Mission Peak for outstanding views over San Francisco Bay and as far east as the Sierra Range. This trail can be done as an out-and-back or a 6-mile loop, and is one of the Bay Area’s most popular hikes. The trail itself is unremarkable, but the views make it work the punishing ascent.

Written by

Charlotte Dohrn


6.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

33.7 miles


3 of 5 diamonds


Time To Complete

3 hours

2-3 hours


All Seasons

All seasons, best to avoid on hot summer days

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only



Sun drenched and windswept, Mission Peak towers over the South Bay. The trails and fire roads leading to the summit provide access to sweeping vistas, calling hikers to its accessible yet hard-earned peak. Routes that access the summit from the Stanford Avenue trailhead climb relentlessly, gaining over 2,000 feet in under three miles. Your legs will burn (and possibly the rest of your body if you forget sunscreen), but the views make it worth the effort. On clear days, you can see the South Bay stretched beneath you, San Francisco, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mt. Diablo, Mt. Tam, and if you are lucky, the craggy Sierras to the east. With only a few trees for shade, this trail is best in fall, winter or spring. If hiking in the summer, try to avoid the heat of the day and carry plenty of water. With minimal tree coverage, reward your efforts by taking in the view whenever you need to catch your breath. At just shy of 6 miles roundtrip from the parking lot to the top, Mission Peak makes a great half-day excursion. Please note that this trail is heavily used; stay on the trail, do not cut switchbacks, be respectful of neighbors, and consider other options on busy weekends.

What Makes It Great

The panoramic, 360-degree view from the summit sets the Mission Peak trail apart. One of the highest peaks in the South Bay, the view from the top is unrivaled… so unrivaled, in fact, that the SFGate reports swarming social media enthusiasts seeking that photo are causing damage and disrupting the neighbors. The steep grade makes this hike a great option for a short but punishing climb with standout views. Meander along side trails to observe wildflowers in the spring, or detour to an overlook to watch hang gliders take off and ride the thermals. Just don’t meander into a cow pasture. If meandering isn’t your thing, go for a personal speed record and feel the burn as you climb over 2,000 feet in 2.8 miles. Save this one for the rare day that is both clear and cool.

Who is Going to Love It

The trail to the top of Mission Peak is well traveled; you won’t be the only one on this hike, nor will you impress anyone with tales of remote wilderness. However, 2,100 feet in 2 miles is nothing to scoff at!

Those who are dying to bag a local peak and don’t have all day to do it. The trail is wide and impacted, making it a good group activity as well. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

There are parking lots at Stanford Avenue and Ohlone College, though spots are limited. The trail starts right from the parking lot, and free maps are available at the entrance.

Start at the Stanford Avenue parking lot. Pass through the cow gate, and immediately start climbing on the Hidden Valley Trail. Be sure to fill your water bottle at the entrance, and take a look at the helpful guide that details the elevation and mileages of landmarks on the way up. You can see the rocky perch of Mission Peak from the bottom of the trail. This hike conceals nothing; you can always see how far up you still have to climb. As you ascend, the views over the Bay become increasingly expansive to the north and west.

Reach the junction with the Peak Meadow trail at 1.55 miles, and continue left to follow on the switchbacks. Resist the urge to cut the switchbacks as many have before you; the parks department is attempting to combat heavy erosion. When you reach the intersection with the Moore Grove trail, follow the Hidden Valley trail to the left. The grade levels as you traverse beneath the rocky peak.

At the signed junction, bear right on the Hidden Valley trail. Catch your breath on the shoulder of Mission Peak, from here its only half a mile to the top. When you reach the next signed junction, bear right onto the Eagle trail, taking in the views to the east and west. Then bear right again onto the Peak trail at the base of the rocky climb. Carefully clamber the last hundred yards over stair-like rock to your well- earned summit. Spot landmarks like Mt. Tam and Mt. Diablo using the pole with mounted scopes. Stretch, take a photo, have a snack, and pat yourself on the back for bagging one of the Bay Area’s classic peaks.

Once you have recovered from the climb, begin your descent, watching your footing on the dusty rocks. On the way down, you can retrace your steps down the Hidden Valley trail, or make it a loop by taking the Peak Meadow trail that traverses across towards the southwestern flank of the mountain. Follow the Peak Meadow trail across the mountain, and into a stand of oak, brief respite from the relentless sunshine of the open fields. Cross over a stream, intersect the Horse Heaven trail, and continue downhill, now paralleling the Hidden Valley trail that you ascended.

Take a moment to look back at Mission Peak looming above. When you come to a cow pasture, rejoin the Hidden Valley trail, reach the parking lot and check Mission Peak off your list.

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Mission Peak Regional Reserve

Fremont, CA,
37.504236, -121.90875

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