Rose Peak From Sunol

HARD 27 reviews
#7 of 22 trails in

Rose Peak From Sunol is a 18.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Sunol, California 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.

18.8 miles
4028 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash





nature trips

trail running




wild flowers


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.

26 days ago

Did this trail April 21st on Saturday for training purpose.
The Relive is here:
Below are details:
We started on 9:45 am from the parking lot at the bridge. The first about 2 miles are flat and shaded with Little Yosemite on your side. We were very lucky that there was plenty of water in Little Yosemite, This part of the trail is wide and passible by cars, very easy to walk.
About half mile passed Little Yosemite there is the left turn to backpacker trail to backpackers campground. Here comes the ascent, sharply to a little over mile 3, then flat out a little bit until you reached a wide road. This part at this time of year has plenty of wildflowers, very pretty. Also, we saw a sign here saying "Rattle Snake 30 feet ahead" by some nice hiker on our way back. So there is such animal activity.
When you reach the wide road (and there is a trail post), turn left and keep ascending about 0.3 miles, you see another trial post, need to turn right here. We got lost last time by following the wide road, but that is not the actual trail, the trail is not very obvious compared to the wide road, but you need to make a right turn here to the trail.
From there it is another section of rolling hills but mostly ascending, climb up the final slope, you'll reach a branch where the right trail leads to a gate, passing which there is a pond, that is the right way to go. Not far from the pond there is a big tree with some shades, that is a good spot for taking a breath.
A little over that, there came another folk trail, take left (There should be a marker build by pebbles on the ground), the trail descends sharply to a small creek, which, surprisingly has crystal clear water, shades, and a rock.
Descending before final summit means more ascending, crossed the creek, here came the final effort to rose peak about 2.5 miles, but the climb was mild until the final 50 feet to the peak. Great view on the summit and lots of flowers.
This is an out and back route, the final mileage on my watch(including a detour to Maggie's for water) was 18.5 and 4295ft elevation gain.
Most of the trail was not covered, the sun was brutal, so do apply sunscreen often and keep hydrated. I think on average at least 4L water is needed. I brought with me 2L and 1L electrolytes but ended up having to fill water at Maggie's.
There were 2 places the trail offers tap water, one at backpacker's camp about 2.5 miles from the start, another is about half a mile from Rose Peak summit in Maggie's. Both are campgrounds, but they are both tap water and you might need to consider filtering before actually drink the water. There were signs saying "Untreated water".
On our way back, we tried to take another route which you can see on the map the trail divided and merged, but we encountered a lot of cows on the trail and there was no space for us to pass through them. So we had to return to the folk and took the route marked on the map.
We started at 9:45 am, summit Rose Peak about 2 pm-ish, spent about 15, 20 minutes on the summit and finally finished about 6:30 pm back at the parking lot.
Overall in spring, this hike offers a very vivid view, green hills rolling and rolling with abundant flowers. We saw thousands of California Poppies and other flowers. A ton of ground squirrels too! Some of them even got really close! I also came once last October and the trail was all golden grass, also spectacular.

1 month ago

Loved the hike. It is strenuous because of the distance and the constant uphills/downhill. Take water and pack snacks. I packed about 5L and was just about enough. The view from the top is beautiful. Definitely go with a partner.

1 month ago

I did this hike in late March at the end of the rainy season. The hills were green and the Alameda Creek was flowing rapidly through Little Yosemite. The trail was a little muddy, but it was manageable. I would not suggest doing this hike during the summer months as there is little shade and it gets hot. I was fortunate to have a cool, cloudy day, so I was able to move at a good pace without getting too tired. I tried to clock in under 5 hours, but the mud slowed me down a bit. I pack really light and can cover a lot of ground in a short time, so for most people I would plan for 6-8 hours at a normal pace with breaks.

There is a $5 parking fee and a $2 permit to hike on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. The permit is good for a year. You'll also need the permit if you want to hike from Sunol to Mission Peak. It appears you can avoid the parking fee it you want to hike to Rose Peak from Welch Creek Road, but then you miss out on Little Yosemite. Also, you don't need a permit to hike to Little Yosemite if that's what you want to do (but you're probably not reading this if you just want to do that 2 mile walk).

My hike distance was exactly 18 miles. The track shows 18.8, but I think it was not a very clean path that added a few slight detours that added some artificial distance.

There are claims that dispute Rose Peak as being the tallest peak in Alameda County. Neighboring "Discovery Peak" on the Valpe Ridge to the east of Rose Flat is slightly higher at 3840 ft, but that one is on private property. Some people still hike there because it is so remote and the property lines are not very well marked.

The waypoint on the track mentioned a log canister at the peak, but I didn't see anything. There was a metal anchor in the ground where it appeared something used to be, so maybe that was it? Also, the views from the peak aren't as spectacular as Mt. Diablo or Mt. Tam as it doesn't have the prominence and there isn't a tower at the summit that provides nice views for the tourists. You're on your own out here and there are some trees at the top of Rose Peak that will obscure the view.

3 months ago

Decided to do this as a dayhike to train for Whitney later this year. Definitely found myself wishing I was overnighting it. Beautiful hike with plenty of solitude. Lots of up and down on the way up, which means there's still plenty of climbing to be done on the way back. Rose peak is not a high prominence peak, so the views at the top are less rewarding than the breeze at the top, but it's still a nice perspective. Last few miles were particularly tough just because of distance (closer to 20 miles). Took a short detour up to the water spigot at sunol backpack camp to refill on the way back (boiled my water as it is untreated), before cutting down the backpack road towards little yosemite to go around the last bit of uphill on the mcorkle trail. Exhausted and sore, but happy i made the hike.

9 months ago

One of the hardest hikes I've ever done and I was not well prepared. It was a hot day and I didn't bring enough water or a filter (ended up drinking the untreated water). I also didn't know you needed a permit so I didn't have a map either (ended up using my phone to look things up). That said, it really is a challenge and I only saw 3 people on the trail (and 2 of them were just backpackers leaving). The solitude is creepy but kind of interesting if you're not used to it. Definitely have a hearty breakfast and research the area before you go. It was a spur of the moment decision for me but I'm glad I did it. Took about 9 hours.

10 months ago

Did this as a long day hike on 3/11/17, and came in at closer to 20 miles. Nice views! I did not take enough water, and the "potable" water as signed near Maggie's Half acre was not treated and I found worms in it. Either take enough water or filter. (I used my iodine tablets and wondered if they kill worms)

trail running
Monday, May 01, 2017

Fun and tough trail. Was a long ascent but the descent was way harder. My poor toes. Next time I will wear more sunscreen and bug spray. There are 2 places to get water, at the first camping area and on Maggie's Acre. Maggie's Acre is not obvious, there's a trough of water next to a spigot. You have to open the handle completely for water to pour out.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Very difficult trail. I absolutely would not try this unless you're very experienced backpacking. A very well experienced day hiker or trail runner could easily make it to the peak and back within a day, but for backpackers the story is a little different. It took my group of fairly experienced backpackers a full 7 hours to reach the peak - the trail is 90% uphill on the way there and the constant uphill can be quite exhausting. Our group was able to handle it though, but one thing I should mention is that we were snowed on. The camps at maggie's half acre are high enough up that a weather report of rain in Sunol means snow at Maggie's half acre. We got about 3 inches that day, very heavy winds as well. It was a great trip but extremely challenging as well.

Also, If it does rain, expect a lot of the trails to be washed out and muddy, and a small landslide covering the trail here and there. Again, would only recommend to experienced backpackers, very much a challenge.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

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!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

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.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A great challenge if you like long hike.

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