Rating:
Area: East Bay
Distance: 6 miles
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Medium
Elevation gain: 2,100ft (from 400 - 2,517ft)

Towering over the city of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area the 2,517 foot Mission Peak is a popular summit to bag for hikers and casual walkers alike, though the latter often struggle with the punishing steep trails.

Our route up the mountain follows wide, paved trails which wind around and over rolling green hillsides, ascending at an average rate of 1 in 3. Just under three miles of hiking is required to make it to the summit of Mission Peak, where the gusts of wind will make you be glad of the extra layers you packed.

Once you've caught your breath and enjoyed taking in the panoramic south bay views, it's time to head back down. We chose to return along Horse Heaven Trail which made our hike a six mile loop, but you absolutely must be confident of dry conditions along this route to avoid getting quite literally bogged-down in mud. Alternatives include a straight out-and-back route the way you came, or a part-loop using the Grove Trail or Peak Meadow Trail.

Plan your hike to avoid the hottest of the summer days and take plenty of water, as shelter from the sun on this trail is almost non existent. Also be aware that Mission Peak Regional Preserve is home to herds of grazing cattle, which usually don't pose a problem but can sometimes become an obstacle - particularly when taking the Horse Heaven loop.

Tangents:
- Trailspotting Images: Mission Peak on Flickr
- East Bay Regional Park District: Mission Peak Regional Preserve