Mission Peak Loop via Hidden Valley Trail

12 reviews #2 hike out of 19 in
5.8 mi
Distance
2 hrs 39 min
Time
terrain
2,096 ft
Elev Gain

Overview

This is a moderate loop trail to Mission Peak in Sunol Regional Wilderness.


Sights to See


    Rate this Hike

    user_profile stars
    3 years, 1 month ago
    ​I've heard Mission Peak is the most popular hike in the SF Bay area, and no wonder, it's easy to get to, the trail is straight-forward and well maintained, and the views are great. I hiked this most recently a couple weeks ago in early September. If you get up early enough you can get a parking space in the (small) Stanford Ave. lot, otherwise you have to hope someone has just left, or you can park a little farther down the hill along the street. To give you an idea, it's so popular that there aren't many spaces left by 6:30 a.m. In addition to the parking advantages, I like going early because there aren't as many people on the trail or on the peak, and in the summer you can climb up through the Bay Area fog, so when you're at the peak you're looking out on an ocean of fog. Yet another advantage is I don't feel the need to carry any water when I'm hiking early (but I know other people would rather have something to drink no matter the time). I prefer heading up the Hidden Valley Trail because it doesn't have the steep sections you find on the Horse Heaven Trail going down. If you prefer staying off the steep decline you can hike the reverse direction, or come back down the same way. The Hidden Valley Trail is where the most hikers are. It's a wide, well-maintained service road, with a rocky foot trail up the final approach to the peak. It seems many people hike to the marker post—which is great for photos—but don't head a little farther to stand on the actual peak. The views are mostly the same, but I always like finding the USGS marker next to the highest rock on the true peak. The Horse Heaven Trail down is narrower and crosses a couple of streams. Easy enough in September, probably less so right after a winter rain. The trail drops pretty quickly so you get a great view of the peak when you look back up. The trail changes to the Peak Meadow Trail part-way down, not something you even notice and there aren't signs for it. I saw a coyote cross the path in front of me on the way down and often see wild turkeys in the fields near the bottom. This is definitely one of my favorite hikes. Hiking at a decent pace I usually finish in less than two hours, but I don't spend too much time at the top because I've seen the view many times.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile stars
    3 years, 2 months ago
    I've heard Mission Peak is the most popular hike in the SF Bay area, and no wonder, it's easy to get to, the trail is straight-forward and well maintained, and the views are great. I hiked this most recently a couple weeks ago in early September. If you get up early enough you can get a parking space in the (small) Stanford Ave. lot, otherwise you have to hope someone has just left, or you can park a little farther down the hill along the street. To give you an idea, it's so popular that there aren't many spaces left by 6:30 a.m. In addition to the parking advantages, I like going early because there aren't as many people on the trail or on the peak, and in the summer you can climb up through the Bay Area fog, so when you're at the peak you're looking out on an ocean of fog. Yet another advantage is I don't feel the need to carry any water when I'm hiking early (but I know other people would rather have something to drink no matter the time). I prefer heading up the Hidden Valley Trail because it doesn't have the steep sections you find on the Horse Heaven Trail going down. If you prefer staying off the steep decline you can hike the reverse direction, or come back down the same way. The Hidden Valley Trail is where the most hikers are. It's a wide, well-maintained service road, with a rocky foot trail up the final approach to the peak. It seems many people hike to the marker post—which is great for photos—but don't head a little farther to stand on the actual peak. The views are mostly the same, but I always like finding the USGS marker next to the highest rock on the true peak. The Horse Heaven Trail down is narrower and crosses a couple of streams. Easy enough in September, probably less so right after a winter rain. The trail drops pretty quickly so you get a great view of the peak when you look back up. The trail changes to the Peak Meadow Trail part-way down, not something you even notice and there aren't signs for it. I saw a coyote cross the path in front of me on the way down and often see wild turkeys in the fields near the bottom. This is definitely one of my favorite hikes. Hiking at a decent pace I usually finish in less than two hours, but I don't spend too much time at the top because I've seen the view many times.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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