Rose Peak From Sunol is a 18.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Sunol, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Rose Peak (3,817 ft.), the highest peak in Alameda county, is remotely located in Ohlone Wilderness and can only be accessed by foot for the public. This 18 miles round-trip hike, gaining almost 4,000 feet in elevation change, takes you there and back from Sunol Regioanl Park in one day. The trail is well marked with trail posts along the way. Each post has an unique number assigned to it. Just follow the numbers and you can get to the peak easily. This trip is also a perfect training for the famous Half Dome hike in Yosemite for their similarity in distance and elevation gain.
1. strenuous trail but the slopes are not very steep., so only the distance will be killing.
2. pl note there is not much shade and so you would get a lot of afternoon sun if you are day hiking;
3. water is available at the visitor center; there is a tap with untreated water but its untreated, so you need to be preapared for that; Other detours to go for potable water may add to the already long distance, so we didn't try that.
We clocked in at 20.9 miles following the wilderness trailing from Del Valle and back, with our only detour being taking the loop at Rose Peak down to Maggie's Half Acre for a picnic and to get water. Maggie's Half Acre was a good place to refill as there was a spout coming out of the ground with fresh well water (that still needs to be treated). This was my longest day mileage to date, and the frequent changes in elevation made the hike much more difficult than anticipated. It breaks the pattern of the mellower ridge-line / canyon hiking commonly found in Northern California. Only try to cram this into one day if you can be sure you'll have daylight for the full 8-10 hours that it requires. Don't forget to sign the geocache notebook on Rose Peak!
There are a couple ways to do this, the official way would be to park just after the gate, and get right on the trail at the visitor center. I chose to go the same way the OP listed (at least for the way up). The advantage is a slightly more direct route, and almost no crowd.
Paid $5 for the access, $2 for the "permit" which is a map. There is currently bridge construction, which means the access described here is closed Mon-Fri (but open today being a Sunday).
I got there very late, 11:15AM, and gave myself a 2:30PM turnaround time to be sure to beat the 5PM gate closing. That meant speed hiking if I was going to make the peak. I managed to get tot he peak by 2:18PM, and gave myself a 12 minute break. I cut through the "no trespassing" area and down Bluff Road in order to be sure I was back by 5, and got to the car at 4:40PM.
Saw a few dog walkers early on the road, then only two different 3man groups of backpackers. One coyote and one deer, two huge eagles, oh and 54 cows ;)
Looking forward to going back with plenty of time to enjoy the area.
A great challenge if you like long hike.