City Girl Hikes: Mission Peak - Fremont, CA

1:42 PM

Oh, that hike with the pole!
Yup, Mission Peak! The hike that is known specifically for the photo op at the top. A pole. A dang coveted pole picture as your prize at the end of the hike, well before you have to come back down, of course.

It's officially called the Mission Peak Regional Preserve and is located in Fremont, CA.

Prior to my first hike at Mission Peak, it was always on the little list of local (by local, I mean Northern California) hikes to do, which I created and stored in my head. I've always seen pics of people on top of the pole, with a gorgeous blue sky as their back drop. That's really all that matters, that damn pole.
Repost from August 2014

I had no idea what the hike entailed, how long it was, or what I was even getting us gals into the first time. However, this second go around, I knew what to expect. I knew that it was essentially a straight hike uphill, with plenty of switch backs to distract you. I knew there were a few other nice photo ops to take advantage of. I knew there were two different benches to sit at, catch your breath, or take time to have a snack. I knew that there is limited shade during the entire hike, which also means there isn't really anywhere to pee without being seen.

As we set out to start our holiday weekend off right, Mission Peak was not our original destination. I've been dying to hike at Big Sur and we were going to make the long drive up and back, just for the day. But about 30 minutes into the drive, I told J that we should just go on a smaller, more local hike and not spend 75% of our day in the car. So, I suggested we change plans and hike mission peak. He didn't argue and then we had a new plan.

We'd already come equipped with plenty of water, sunblock, and snacks - so any hike we did, we'd be prepared. As you get close to the base of the hike, it is a little odd, because you are surrounded by residential housing. Not just your typical middle class houses, but some very nice, large houses. As you proceed uphill you come to a very small, state parking lot, which is usually already packed to the brim.

You can tell how many people are there as you drive in, the sooner you see cars means there are lots of hikers that day. Hikers take up all the residential parking, covering about a 2 mile radius. Try to park in the state owned parking lot, if you'd like - it's free - but it's probably faster to just find a spot on the road. Also, all parking is free (at the moment), street and parking lot. Just don't be a jerk and block someones driveway or on a corner (someone did this, stop being lazy people).

At the base of the hike there is one state run bathroom (re: fancy port-o-potty) and this time they had three additional port-o-potty's there too. If I remember correctly there is one picnic table too, or just benches. There is one map to show you the route, but that's about it. The start is clearly marked, you have to open the large gate to enter.

Luckily I used my Nike+ app to track the hike this time, so now I have some stats to share with you. These are all approximations, based on my app:

Elevation: 2,050 feet
Distance: 5.89mi

Here is the elevation climb, by mile:
Mile 1: +629ft
Mile 2: +720ft
Mile 3: +644ft

This hike is no joke! It is straight up for 3 miles. I was sweating about 5 minutes into the hike. J was on a mission and my little legs couldn't keep up. It didn't help that my calves were really tight and it was three miles of uphill. I warned him that it wasn't an 'easy' hike, but I don't think he believed me until about half a mile into it. And even then I think he didn't think we'd be going uphill for that long. I couldn't remember the ascent mileage, so I told him it was anywhere from 2-4 miles up, even though it actually ended up being just barely shy of 3 miles.

Along with the hoards of people, we even saw cow's this time. They were actually on the trail, then went to the side. Of course we snapped a couple pics, but then we went along our business. Hanging out with them and two hundred of their friends the flies, wasn't cool.
Almost to the top, I was excited to take a cheesy pole pic with J. That hope was dashed as soon as we reached the top. The line to take a pic looked about fifty people deep. Efff that! A pic on the pole wasn't worth that wait. I already have a solo pic, so I didn't really care. Of course J didn't care either, pics aren't really his thing (like they are mine - Yin & Yang)!
So we sat and took in the view for a little while. It was really nice at the top and the breeze was much appreciated. We people watched a bit and took some pics, but really we just enjoyed the moment and serenity of Mission Peak.

View of the city // From the top
View of the terrain behind the peak // From the top (photo bomb by a random)
As we started our decent, we decided we'd jog as much as we could. We ended up jogging the entire way down. We shaved off about 25 minutes on our decent, versus our climb up. When you first start your way down, you have to navigate some rocks, people, and a slippery (loose dirt) pathway. Once you level out, then there is a very steep hill down. Then the rest is fairly easy, yet steep in some areas.

Although the three miles up-hill are a good workout, it seems as if all walks of life take on this adventure. I've seen plenty of different people, adults and kids alike during my two hikes. This is probably one of the most diverse hikes I've ever done as well, every nationality was represented on Friday, it was interesting. I've seen people hike it in street clothes or workout clothes. It's not easy, but it's not Half Dome either. It's a great hike and I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind some hard work and a little sweat.

5 Tips if You Hike Mission Peak:
1. Take water.
2. Wear sunblock (hat optional, but suggested).
3. Shoes with grip are a plus, but necessary.
4. Don't leave valuables in your car.
5.  Have fun!

It's not always about just the destination, remember to enjoy the journey...

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  1. Wow, that is quite the crowd at the top. The pole seems to be the reward and milestone for all the hard work and effort of getting to the top. I can't believe your were hiking next to cows - that is pretty funny. Would they let you get close to them? I bet the downhill was just as brutal due to the impact. Whenever I go hiking I can never decide if the uphill or downhill is harder. Haha. Glad you guys had a great time and worked up a sweat!

  2. For real, I wasn't expecting that many people - although I should have, with all the cars parked at the base. Yes, the pole is the reward, well maybe a picture with the pole is actually the reward ;) The cows had no issue with anyone, they just went about their business. I think whatever I'm doing at the time I say is 'harder' but both just work you out differently. If you're ever in the area and need a quick-ish hike, you should try. It's fun and a nice view to boot! xoxo, ganeeban


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