Explore backpacking - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Attention - the route shown is Bear Valley to Arch Rock. It does not go to Wildcat and Alamere Falls as indicated in the title, which would be a considerably longer and more strenuous hike.

This hike is good for kids if they are fairly strong hikers as it is a bit long: very easy to follow trails, shallow grades, varied and beautiful country, and a gorgeous ocean vista at the end. “Arch rock” collapsed some time ago, though, so don’t expect that.

As an alternative Bear Valley trail is very nice for biking. It is basically a fire road and very well maintained. It is a good beginner MTB ride suitable for kids but if you go fast on the downhill bits there are a few fun sections for more experienced riders too (of course be in control and conscientious of the hikers and equestrians you’ll be sharing the trail with). There is a rack at the end of the Bear Valley trail and you can hike from there. Doing it this way cuts down the time commitment considerably!

A day’s trip from Sunol to Rose Peak and back. It was a great hike, although I wouldn’t recommend doing this one in summer. The whole trail is really exposed with no shade whatsoever. On the other hand, when you go in winter (and like to take in the views like me) bring a head lamp. The gate opens at 8am; be there ready already. I got back at about 5.30 or 6 and it was complete dark already.

Rabbit Peak is an ass kicker! We brought 8Liters of water each and came close to running out and had to ration. The views are amazing and well worth the pain. If you’re trying to summit Rabbit the first day, give yourself extra time, the hike up along the ridgeline is tough one, lots of ups and down following very faint use trails and very tedious. The sunrise on Rabbit has to be one of my all time favorites yet!

backpacking
1 month ago

Completed Dec 17th. 3 days 2 nights. We started from the Del Mar side as was highly recommend by others.

The Del Mar side packs all of the elevation gain into the first day including the dive into William's gulch. This climb is no joke, be prepared.

After Rose peak you come into a very gradual downhill scenic trail heading into the sunol wilderness area. You will cover alot of ground soaking in the best views of this trail.

Once you reach the sunol visitor center, you begin your ascent to mission hill. This is a steady climb but refreshingly easy compared to your first day.

Temps hovered around the low 60s down to the low 30s at night in mid December. We did encounter heavy rain on the last day. This trail was great besides the constant sounds of jets from the bay area.

backpacking
1 month ago

We backpacked up to Villager peak on Sat., November 24, 2018, then day hiked to Rabbit Peak and came down on Sunday. The weather was perfect for the hike. Daytime highs were in the 60s and the nighttime lows were in the 30s. After winds picked up after midnight, the real temperature at Villager Peak was probably in the 20s. But I was sleeping in my 0 degree speeling bag and felt very comfortable.

Great if you are backpacking to one of the camps. Route on recording is longer than needed. Continue on Glen Trial to Coast Glen Spur/Stewart Trial for quickest route (6.4) to Wildcat Camp. Monitor tide chart but the Beach Walk is best! If you are going for a day hike for the falls start at Palomarin.

It was sooo hard! (Hiking that many miles) we thought out endurance level was great. But this trail proved us wrong. Haha. Would I do it again? No. Only if my endurance level is higher(; but the wild life on the trail was amazing. And the views were breath taking(:

Rewarding hike with beautiful coastal vistas and the beauty of Alamere Falls waiting for you at the end. Trails are well maintained and well marked with a nice mix of shade and sun. Make sure to grab a trail map and follow it carefully. We got distracted and missed a turn that added an extra mile and a half and a strenuous climb on the Coast Trail to an already long hike. Beautiful coastal views on that little side trip though. Alamere Falls was enjoyable, if not a little crowded. Felt a bit like Disneyland with the line of tourists taking selfies there. Restrooms and water available at Wildcat Camp. Great hike !

All of the camps have potable water and are well spaced. I carried a water filter but did not need to use it.

Lake Ranch Trail is very overgrown but easily passable. No issues with ticks despite the high grass. Other trails are all very well maintained and appear to have been cut back recently.

This was a really enjoyable walk, lots of variety and overall not too difficult. Primarily shaded just the short beachfront section has little.

I went anti-clockwise to try and get down the water with reasonably early morning light. Additionally it’s always nice not to be stuck with a heavy uphill right at the end. I’d swap the short jaunt to the lake for a walk down to Alamere Falls. It’s worth a quick look but expect it to be busy.

backpacking
5 months ago

Did this trail in 3 days 2 nights starting at Mission Peak and ending at Del Valle.

Suggestions:

When? We did this hike yesterday (mid July), it was extremely hot and taxing. Very dry. Mid spring would be a better option.

Where? We started at Mission Peak which means we basically were climbing the entire way. When you start at Del Valle, the first ascent is extremely steep but you basically descend the rest of the way to MP. I would suggest starting from Del Valle.

Who? I suggest this trail to all ages over 13. This is really difficult physically and mentally at some points. Anyone younger I might assume would struggle. It says dogs are ok on a leash, but I would say not ok to bring a dog during summer. The trails, especially in the back country, are poorly maintained. There will be many stickers getting into your socks and their paws/fur.

Water? Bring an abundance or bring a stove. Although the map indicates potable water sources the three camps we stopped at to fill up did not have potable water. There was a relatively new sign on the water pipe saying it was untreated water and you must boil before drinking. Those campsites were School Camp in Sunol, Joes Horse Camp, and Maggie’s Half Acre. In addition to the misleading water sources also be advised that the water sources are not on the trail and are pretty far off. They are also down very steep hills.

Electricity and cell service? You’ll lose service once you get out of the Mission Peak area going into the trail. You won’t have any service the entire way until you hit the Del Valle trail systems. But then you’ll most likely lose service again in Del Valle itself. My suggestion would be to coordinate your pick-up location and time as precise as possible. The only electricity I was able to find was in Sunol on the backside of the Visitors Center building.

Wildlife? We encountered an abundance, especially in Sunol. Coyotes, raccoons, deer, vultures, Hawks, eagles, rabbits, rattle snakes, ground squirrels, free range cattle. Mosquitos and flies were especially abundant.

Food? Pack in and pack out. There are some places to throw trash away, so don’t worry about having to carry it for too long, you’ll eventually run into a campsite or rest stop with a trash can. But there will be absolutely no where to get food unless you get an Uber Eats to the MP trailhead. We under packed in terms of calories, therefore we were pretty sluggish at some points. So make sure you pack more calories than you usually eat in a day. We brought freeze dried meals that we bought from REI, boiled water with out propane camp stove, and enjoyed. We failed to bring a variety of other snacks however. I would also suggest bringing packets of powder Gatorade or similar, you’ll need the electrolytes.

Clothing? During mid July, I wore shorts the entire trip and was fine. My legs did get really dirty and I did get the occasional sticker but overall was ok. Next time I’ll bring pants for some of the deeper brush we went through. The nights get pretty cold even in the summer, so make sure to layer properly. We also brought lightweight hammocks, small sleeping bags, and roll up sleeping pads. Depending on where you decided to stop for the night there may or may not be trees convenient for putting up a hammock, or there may not be worthwhile ground for sleeping on.

Smoker? Don’t F’ing do it. California has enough wildfires. It’s strictly prohibited in all the parks anyway. However, we are all human and I’m sure it will be done. If that’s the case wait until you get next to a creek, water source, or in a campsite bathroom. Unless there’s a trash or a toilet, take your butt or roach with you.

I think this is all I can think of at the moment. I tried my best to record the trail as I did it, but like I mentioned the cellular signal was spotty and I was rationing battery life toward the middle of the hike. If there’s anything else you’d like to know please don’t hesitate to reach out.

- Josh

On a Thursday morning not many people after the cutoff at the bike rack. It was easy to navigate down to the beach and the falls if you keep following the signs to the wildcat campground, but hiking back out you can take the wrong trail if not careful .(I did) but well worth the extra few miles than taking the bear valley trail all the way to the ocean.
Definitely too difficult and rough for a stroller lots of ups and down the whole way.

I love this trail I will come back to finish the trail

camping
7 months ago

The hike was absolutely beautiful! My group and I hammock camped near the river and had a fantastic time! Be wary of the poison oak, which is bountiful.

nice trail

Amazing trek. Challenging to get to the falls and back in one day but well worth the effort. Gorgeous views and standing in Alamere Falls at the halfway mark (if you are doing a day hike) and feeling the cool fresh water and mist is a good break for your hike back. Would love to camp at Wildcat next time and explore other trails in the area.

on Ohlone Wilderness Trail

backpacking
9 months ago

I backpacked the trail from Mission Peak to Del Valle in three days/two nights, with overnights at Sunol Backpacking Camp (Sky Camp is absolutely magical) and Maggie’s Half Acre (site #1 is the most secluded). I went in late March and already it was a bit warmer than preferred, but I saw some great wildflowers and the hills were green from winter rains. I had no problem finding water to filter at this time of year. Sunol is not the prettiest park, but Ohlone Wilderness and Del Valle are absolute delights. I would recommend hiking from west to east to avoid hiking uphill in Del Valle — going downhill was brutal on my knees but I think the exertion on a hot day with full pack would have been worse! This trail is a great physical challenge and adventure given its proximity to the Bay Area — I even took BART/Lyft to the Mission Peak trailhead!

hiking
9 months ago

This was my longest hike since I took up the hobby 2 years ago. I've actually never done a marathon, and this was a marathon with a 7500 ft climb, which is pretty insane. But I like a challenge, so wth.

Most people will backpack the Ohlone Wilderness Trail and everyone I passed out in the backcountry was doing just that. That would be my suggestion to people who don't think they can do the hike in one day. I'm not a backpacker, so I just went for it, with an option to bail at the 20 mile mark when I reached Sunol.

I got an early start from Del Valle around 6:30 because I wanted to have the sun at my back for as long as possible. I didn't see any other people until about 8 miles in where I passed 4 backpackers. By the time I hit Rose Peak I was feeling it and can understand why it's suggested to camp out overnight at nearby Maggie's Half Acre.

But what comes up, must come down, and after Rose Peak, it's pretty much all downhill until you reach Sunol. There is a gulch you drop down into briefly, but it's not too bad. Along the way, I was greeted with beautiful orange poppies and assorted wildflowers. It was mid-April, so everything was blooming.

I was hoping to fill up on water in Sunol, but the fountains along the trail weren't working. I probably should have searched around some more at the Sunol park headquarters, because I ran out of water about half-way up the back side of Mission Peak and there isn't any running water until you reach the Stanford Ave. staging area. So that was unfortunate and slowed me down near the end. I was hoping to finish in under 9 hours, but ran over a little.

All in all, what a workout! I weighed in when I got home and lost 4 lbs during the hike. I would recommend doing it east to west and not the opposite because I didn't get too much sun on my face this way. It was a cool April day, so I wore a hoodie the whole time (especially at elevation). I wanted to get this hike in before it got hot and it worked out great! Plus as others have said, you want to get the hard part out of the way first. Believe it or not, Mission Peak is the easier part of the hike.

https://www.relive.cc/view/1511244740

hiking
9 months ago

Be sure to check yourself and pets, lots of ticks.

Great hike in the Bay Area. Can be challenging at times, especially with the heat in the summertime, but an incredible hike in the spring and fall, and if it’s been a dry wintertime (can get very muddy after a rain) great balance of exposed ridges, shaded oak groves, beautiful view on Rose Peak, with some ups and downs guaranteed to work your legs. A phenomenal training hike for the Sierra Nevada

backpacking
10 months ago

I would like to backpack this trail. I am looking for some pointers as far as where the trailhead is for this 20 mile trail and where we would be allowed to camp? Can anyone help me out?

Hiked from Sunol Wilderness to Del Valle as a day hike in preparation for summer hiking season on JMT and Colorado Trail. It's one of my favorite hikes in the Bay Area with great views, solitude and rolling unspoiled East Bay hills all the way through. Trail was in a beautiful condition. I was afraid of the mud, but there were none. The weather was perfect, too. I met just one other person in the entire day. I carried a full 30 lb backpack and finished in 11 hours and 15 min. The trail sure is hard - very hard. It's not only 20 miles long, but with a huge, relentless elevation change, about 6,500 ft up and down. Even after I reached the Rose Peak, the "descent" into Del Valle packed enough uphills to set my tired muscles on fire every step of the way. Descent down the "Big Burn" is nothing to sneeze at as well. Overall, a great 20-miler, for training or fun, if you are looking for that sort of thing.

hiking
10 months ago

Great trail but watch the weather, we went up at the end of March and found ourselves in sow and hail storms and woke up under 2” of snow. Weather would change every 30 minutes from shining sun to torrential rain and everything in between. That said, waking from Stuart’s camp to then peak in forging snow with not another person in sight was magical. Don’t underestimate the route, especially if wearing a full pack for three days

This trail is one of the most challenging, difficult, and mentally exhausting expeditions you will find yourself attempting. It is also one of the most rewarding. It should be reinstated that, if you are wanting anything less than a wicked adventure and like easy-to-follow trails, then pick a different hike. Do not attempt this as a day hike, and have an understanding and respect for the mountains, the desert terrain, and the unpredictability of the two. Navigation skills are essential. The sunset and sunrise on Rabbit are not to be missed!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

It was sickkkkkkkk bring a rain jacket though if done in winter

backpacking
Tuesday, January 02, 2018

This is a very strenuous up and down hike over sand, rock and scree. The trail up to Villager is easy to follow, even at night with flashlights. It gets fainter but exists up to Rabbit. We backpacked up to the turn off to Mile-High and day hiked to Rabbit and back. The next morning we hiked over to Mile-High and back, and then descended the mountain. The views from Villager and Mile-High were awesome.

backpacking
Saturday, December 23, 2017

Excellent views of east bay. Make sure to hit Rose peak and Murietta falls.

on South Yuba Trail

Monday, October 30, 2017

Certain areas of the trail have rocks so need to be careful, but its a beautiful trail with awesome views.

My husband and I did this trail 9/23/15 and went down to the falls. Left the visitor center and 9am and returned at the lot at 7pm. Saw a deer on the way. We were the only ones on the trail till we got closer to the camp site. We had a great time except we wore the wrong shoes!

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