Mission Peak is the large mountain looming above the southeastern corner of San Francisco Bay, and the hike to its summit is a formidable workout. Mission Peak gets is name from the Mission San Jose which was founded in 1797, and is located about 2 miles north of the trailhead. This hike is in Mission Peak Regional Preserve of the East Bay Regional Parks District.
I did this hike on Sunday February 12, 2012 and to say it was crowded is an understatement. I had to park 0.5 mile from the trailhead, and you probably will have to do the same if you try this on a weekend. The traihead has about 20 parking spots (which are probably full unless it's raining or a weekday), a toilet, and some signage that details the region's history. This hike is mostly on a fire road so the footing is pretty good. Indeed, there was a paramedic truck and an ambulance headed up the road when I was headed down. However, don't let that fool you as this hike really gets after it. It's a touch over 3 miles and about 2,000 vertical feet to the summit, so this is a great training hike. The uphill grade does not relent until one reaches the summit, and most visitors turn back after a mile or two. The initial trail is Hidden Valley.
The first mile is very crowded, and you might see families with children in strollers. You won't see them at the summit. There aren't many views uphill towards the summit, but views of Fremont and the southern arm of San Francisco Bay are great if one turns around. Most of Silicon Valley comes into view if you turn around about 1.5 miles up, but it's best to save the views for the trip back down as you have a mission to get to the top. The fire road winds its way ever upward with every quad-burning step. Great views of the rock wall that forms the western base of the summit are available when you reach the junction with the Grove Trail after about 2 miles. The Grove Trail heads southeast to some buildings which are described as the "Park Residence."
0.18 mile up from the Grove Trail junction you reach another junction where you either turn right for a more direct route to the summit or you can head straight/left to a toilet at this junction. The spur trail from the toilet and the more direct route meet about 0.5 mile below the summit. The trail to the summit is steep, but well worth it. A clear day provides views in all directions including most of the Bay Area and even snow-covered peaks in the Sierra Nevadas.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.