San Francisco: Mission Peak - Backpacker

San Francisco: Mission Peak

This challenging, 6.8-mile out-and-back is a classic in spring when lush greenery and riotously colored wildflowers cover the Bay Area foothills.
Publish date:

Mapped by Dave Miller

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.4



Location: 37.5273590087891, -121.91259765625

Begin @ SE end of lot beyond tennis courts; enter first of 3 cattle gates. In spring, cows can be feisty, trails muddy


Location: 37.5282592773438, -121.910003662109

Enter 2,999-acre Mission Peak Preserve through second gate. Rising to E, Mission Peak stands as a silent sentinel over South Bay


Location: 37.5286903381348, -121.910003662109

R @ 4-way onto Peak Trail; head SE through alley of chaparral, poison oak, sagebrush, and yellow monkeyflower


Location: 37.52587890625, -121.906402587891

Small, brush-covered cave opens in hillside

Trailside Cave

Location: 37.5260200500488, -121.906318664551

A cave in the hillside next to the trail. ©Dave Miller

Rolling Foothills

Location: 37.5250358581543, -121.905426025391

Fog snakes through the variegated russet Californian foothills. ©Dave Miller


Location: 37.5247116088867, -121.901901245117

Step through third gate; listen for the loud crashes of wild turkeys shuffling in the brushy hillsides

Break in the Fog

Location: 37.526912689209, -121.899604797363

Sunlight cuts through the swath of coastal haze. ©Dave Miller


Location: 37.5277481079102, -121.898498535156

R @ Y; Dry Creek Trail joins Peak Trail; continue E on Peak Trail, then skirt S shore of unnamed teardrop-shaped pond


Location: 37.5276184082031, -121.896301269531

R @ Y; trail levels out following Mill Creek Rd.

Forested Panoramic

Location: 37.5256462097168, -121.894348144531

A sharp climb into the foothills pays off with superb 180° views.
©Dave Miller


Location: 37.5226516723633, -121.888999938965

R @ Y; continue climbing on Peak Trail; hawks and vultures share thermals with hang gliders, and a herd of untamed goats roams the cliffs

Robes of Fog

Location: 37.5226364135742, -121.893623352051

Views, often stretching for miles, covered in fog. ©Dave Miller


Location: 37.5167999267578, -121.887397766113

R @ Y; trail becomes steep and rocky. In early spring, popcorn flowers, California poppies, and fiddlenecks swathe surrounding grassland

Distant Fog Over Trail

Location: 37.5168647766113, -121.886558532715

Azure Pacific skies over a coastal fog. ©Dave Miller


Location: 37.5127410888672, -121.881500244141

Mission Peak; vistas of heaving Santa Cruz Mtns. to W, Coast Range's massive Mt. Diablo and far-off Sierra Nevada Range to NE. Retrace route to car

Mission Peak

Location: 37.5127372741699, -121.881156921387

Above-the-fog vista from Mission Peak. ©Dave Miller

Peak Panorama

Location: 37.5126876831055, -121.881256103516

Look west to see the vast Bay Area, or as in this case, an incredible wet blanket of fog over the emerald hillsides. ©Dave Miller

Peak Viewer

Location: 37.5126876831055, -121.881301879883

Take in views of different points around the Bay Area. ©Dave Miller

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