This is by far the most visited peak throughout the year, by our tribe. Be it a casual day out or part of a training plan or just the urge to be on a peak and look at endless views of the valley, Mission Peak never disappoints.
Typical starting point is the Stanford Parking Lot, the park opens around 6:00 AM, but if you do not get there early, parking will be full at the trail head. Most of the time, be prepared to park almost half a mile away, this works as a warm up but adds mileage to the RT. Overall it takes about 3/3.5 hours at a good pace with little breaks for this round trip of 6.4 miles, with elevation gain of 2,100 ft. There are more than one routes to get to the peak, while the tribe has done most, our favorite is the Horse Haven Trail, off the gates it's a steep climb up. Once you are on the trail, you can see the peak right in front of you. The road winds across hills and farms, cows and wild turkeys will keep you company. Along the path are grazing gates, continue through them, onward on the steep path. If you happen to do this trail during the spring, the entire mountain is green and comes alive with wild flowers. Summer is all about the golden brown. Somewhere around the midway point you will find a bench, good time to take a break, have a snack and be prepared for some rather steep parts of the trail, these parts can be very slippery because of the loose dirt, be careful, having poles is a good idea. Most of the trail is completely exposed, has no tree cover, sunscreen, hat, glasses and water are important accessories to carry. Also be weary of rattlesnakes found in this area.
There is a section on the Horse Haven Trail, that winds down into a wooded area with small creek flowing through. You know the peak is not too far away from here and most of the steep sections are behind you. As the trail goes around the mountain, it suddenly opens to this wonderful endless view of the entire valley in the east, a sight which feels special every time the tribe has passed from there. An iconic pole at the top of Mission Peak makes for a perfect picture to celebrate the hard work from the day, expect to wait for the photo-op. East Bay Regional Parks keep this pole interesting to the hikers by decorating it for 4th of July, Christmas, Halloween and some major holidays. The way down can be tough on the knees as its a constant downhill, find your pace.
Action packed, great workout and a sense of accomplishment every-time the tribe has done this one.Highly recommend for all ages and skill levels.
Learnings from the tribe - Sometimes doing it once is not enough!!!