We decided to thru-hike the Ohlone Wilderness Regional Trail, from Sunol Regional Wilderness to Del Valle Regional Park, in 1 day. 23 miles, 5,600 feet of elevation gain, and 9 litres of water later, we could barely walk. For those looking for a more leasurely time, we recommend taking 2 or 3 days to complete this section of trail. There are a few side trips that can add mileage and pleasure. Check out the East Bay Regional Park District website for conditions, camping reservations, and the required trail permits ($2/person and good for 1 year).
The Ohlone Wilderness Regional Trail runs, in completion, from the Stanford Staging Area in Fremont to Del Valle Regional Park, a total of 28 miles. We left out the first 8 miles which would have taken us up Mission Peak since we have previously seen the area and were on a 1-day mission.
Sunol Regional Wilderness to Rose Peak – 10 miles, strenuous
Hot. Exposed. Steep. Beautiful. These are just a few adjectives that come to mind when I think back on our hike. While Mission Peak gets a lot of attention because of its steep climb to an Instagram/Facebook opportunity, the Ohlone Wilderness Regional Trail offers equally steep sections with the rewards of a higher summit, stunning views, and solitude. Hiking on a Saturday, we did not see a single person the entire 23 miles.
If you are staging a car, the entrance gate closes (hours depend on the season), but the exit gate remains open. Remember to sign in at the Visitor Center before heading out.
We recommend beginning the hike early; the entrance gate opens at 8 AM year-round. We were able to start at 8:02 AM, in the cool morning air, but the temperature quickly rose. Unsurprisingly, due to the ongoing drought, our hike was dry, but the trail can become nearly impassable after a heavy rain; inches of mud cake onto your boots and the steep fire roads turn into mudslides.
Once you reach the ridge, the views are quite stunning and you will quickly forget that you are a short distance from urban areas. We took a side trip to see Little Yosemite Area. The area can be seen from above but go down to the picnic table if you like.
At about 6.5 miles, you will reach the Sunol Backpacking Area, with multiple backcountry sites. Water is currently unavailable in the area because of drought, so plan accordingly.
From here, you will enter Ohlone Regional Wilderness. About 3.25 miles after leaving Sunol, you will reach a side trail to The Bluff.
After getting back on trail, you are just about 2.5 miles from Rose Peak. We went down to Doe Horse Camp to refill water before heading up. Bring a filter and check with the park as water availability changes. Maggie’s Half Acre provides camping near the summit, and is ideal if you plan on doing this as an over-nighter.
Rose Peak to Del Valle Regional Park -10 miles, strenuous
This section provides the most downhill! And it is steep. If you have weak knees, use hiking poles.
We recommend visiting Murietta Falls, the tallest falls in the area. The side trip will add 1 mile and an additional climb.