I can’t believe I’ve lived in the South Bay for six years and only JUST climbed Mission Peak. This seems to be a rite of passage for locals. I can’t even tell you how many dating profile pictures I encounter on a weekly basis taken on top of the monument at the peak. I woke up early on a Saturday morning and decided to hit the six mile hike early to avoid climbing up the mountain in the blistering summer heat. Since I wanted to go from the main trailhead on the shortest route off Stanford Avenue, I decided to arrive as soon as the park opened to avoid crowds. Apparently I was not early enough. The place was not only packed at 6:30 a.m., but the parking lot was overflowing, the neighborhood full of cars, and the community had already left passive aggressive notes on all the cars on the street about the “parking ambush at 6:30 a.m.” Not sure which resident was printing all these fliers in an outrage and getting up early to distribute them on hundreds of cars, but I imagine they could put their time to better use.
The last stretch of the hike. Photo credit: Lisette
By the time I parked and walked up the trail, people were already streaming up the mountain. I didn’t need to bother looking at a map, I just followed the hordes. This extremely heavily trafficked, wide trail included an eclectic variety of people including families, loud boombox carrying exercise enthusiasts, and an ill-prepared gentleman attempting to hike in sandals, who eventually gave up and walked barefoot, holding his flip flops over his forehead for shade. The hike is STEEP, and it’s definitely best to do it in the morning when you have shade for the majority of the climb. By the time you get to the peak, I can promise you’ll be sweating. The summit is very rocky, so you need to be prepared to scramble around to get to the top. The view is gorgeous, just know that you’re sharing it with countless others. The summit pole (even at the early hour I arrived) had a line of about 20 people trying to get selfies or pictures poised on top. I struggled to get an image without the crowds.
The view from the top. Photo credit: Lisette
As I descended, I found that this hike was probably not something I’d do again. It’s far to open, hot and crowded for me to return. In addition, I had a parking ticket when I got back to my car. If you want a steep, crowded and hot hike, go for Mission Peak. If you want to hike in an area that feels more natural, secluded and peaceful – by all means, go anywhere else! Trust me, the residents of the neighborhood don’t want you there anyway.