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Mission Peak

Mission Peak is the large mountain behind Fremont.  As such, it is largely a hill climb.  There is an easier way (which is still a lot of climbing) and a hard way (which is serious climbing).  At the top, you are rewarded with a great view of the whole Bay, including Mount Tamalpias and Mount Diablo.  There are a few tricks at the top, so read below.  By the way, take at least a windbreaker if it cool or breezy when you start - it will be cold on top.

Park: Mission Peak, Fremont CA
Date: Multiple
Distance: 9.52 miles
Ride Time: 1:28
Total Ascent: 2,398 feet
Map: Detailed trail map
Overall Rating: 4
We don't venture over to Alameda County too often, but occasionally we head over to Mission Peak. There are two trailheads to get to the peak.

The first trailhead starts at Ohlone College. Park in one of the lots near the swimming pool (I think this is Pine Street officially, but follow the signs). The Peak Trail starts on the other side of the road near the power tower. There is some equestrian parking there, but it is signed for no parking now. You have to pay to park on campus, so cheapskates (like me) park on Pine Street across Mission Blvd. from the the college where it is free. Head back up to the power tower and equestrian gate to the trailhead. As another alternative, stay on the paved road up the hill and around a gate to the top of the hill. There is a cattle gate at the top. Go through and keep to the right to get to the main trail (this meets up with the trail from the other trailhead). Shift down and head up the hill and through yet another cattle gate. We have seen cattle grazing on the trail a few times, but they keep their eyes on you pretty closely. Just after the open cattle range, you hit a nicely shaded singletrack through some woods as you ride near Mill Creek Road. Once you get out of the woods, it is time for some more fire road climbing until you get to the junction with Hidden Valley Trail.

The second trailhead starts from the Stanford Avenue entrance (yes, that Stanford) a short distance from Mission Blvd. Go to the end of the road where there is a small parking lot. Gear up and start going up the Hidden Valley Trail which is really a fire road. There is a hang glider landing area near the start of the trail. We made a mistake the first time here and did this when the temperatures were 100 degrees in the shade. There was no shade on the trail. We were cooked. I think hikers were passing us. There is not really much to recommend this route since it is just a fire road with plenty of gravel. I suppose it is good for training, but why? Anyway, continue up to the junction with Peak Trail.

From the junction, there is a very visible direct route to the summit. Although you are nearly at the summit, the trail becomes unridable. Between being very steep and giant steps, you will probably end up carrying your bike the last few hundred yards to the top. I recommend taking Eagle Trail around the back of the summit. This is a very nice ride that has a small section of single track. Go past the backpackers camp and then keep right. There is a bit of rocky uphill to the summit this is a bit of a fun challenge.

There is a great view from the summit where you can see all cities and landmarks in the south bay. You can also see Mt. Diablo and San Francisco and Mt. Tamalpias on a clear day. Take a look at the post at the summit. Look through some of the smaller tubes to see various landmarks (in case you aren't sure). The view is enhanced by the steep drop-off of the mountain at that point, making you feel you are on the edge looking down at the heavily populated area below. By the way, the weather at the top can vary a lot. We have been there when it was quite pleasant, but other times we have had 60 mph winds and very cold weather. Be prepared!

You can head down by taking Eagle to either Peak or Hidden Valley. A fun alternative is to follow the Bay Area Ridge Trail along the top of the ridge to the television and radio towers. This is a fun ride and it seems like very few people go out here. It is very pretty out here. Once past the tower, it starts downhill. It is very open and you can build up a lot of speed here. Keep your eyes open for sharper turns and cattle that may be grazing, but other than that you only have to worry about your brakes. The last part of this is pretty steep, but very manageable. This will take you into Ed Levin County Park (you're in Santa Clara County now) which is nice but not spectacular. You can either ride back up the Bay Area Ridge Trail at this point (that is a lot of climbing back to the summit) or you can back via Warm Springs Boulevard (we did not notice a more direct route).

The best thing about this ride is the view from the top. I recommend avoiding this location when the weather is too hot or if it is windy (it will be really windy at the top). The route is really pretty in the spring when the grass is short and green and the wildflowers are in bloom.

There is another section of Mission Peak (technically Ohlone College land) that makes an interesting addition or alternative to the climb to the peak. Entering through the gate above the college's pool complex, follow the fireroad to the right a couple of hundred yards and then make a switchback onto another fireroad. After going past the large water tank, down shift and try to make it up the hill in front of you. Continue past the horse trough and continue climbing up a small canyon on the Spring Valley Trail. This is a short climb of about 300 feet but it seems like more especially when it is hot. At the junction, a right turn climbs up another hill and takes you back to the Peak Trail near the gate, making this an alternative (but seemingly harder) way up the hill. A left turn at the junction continues climbing on the Panorama Trail which climbs up to the top of the hill and then descends on the back side through a short set of switchbacks before leveling off and then a fairly easy fireroad descent. The Panorama Trail seems to be very lightly used and had a tendency to disappear in a few places. This is also cattle grazing land so the overgrown parts of the trail tend to be a bit beat up by hoof prints. The bottom of the trail comes out near an abandoned house which has a locked gate leading to the Ohlone College campus. You can bushwhack on some of the animal trail to get back to the large water tank to get out if you don't want to go over the gate.

This is not a super long ride, so we don't usually stop for food.  However, we have been known to stop at the nearby Starbucks to warm up or dry off after a cold ride.

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