Rose Peak (3817′)
7 April 2019
I’ve been to the Ohlone Regional Wilderness a couple times, but never gotten to its highest point, Rose Peak. At 3817 feet, Rose Peak stands just 32 feet short of Mt. Diablo and is the highest legally accessible point in Alameda County. Previous excursions to the Ohlone Wilderness were from the Del Valle Regional Park; to switch things up a bit, I decided that when I tagged Rose Peak I’d do it from the Sunol side.
This past weekend was the first weekend of the year when Sunol Regional Wilderness gate hours extended to 8pm. Wanting to give myself an ample amount of time to finish this 19-mile hike, I decided that this would be a good weekend to go for Rose Peak while still using my Ohlone Wilderness Permit from last year; it doesn’t expire until 10 May. I got to the trailhead at 10am and set off; not from the visitor’s center, as is standard, but from Camp Ohlone Road, where parking was available.
It was a beautiful spring day, with green hills fed by our wet winter. Less beautiful was my Camelbak springing a leak maybe twenty minutes into the hike. Half my water supply was now dripping from my pants. That annoyance aside, the McCorkle Trail soon rose into the Sunol Wilderness and the crowds of people thinned out. After some nice single-track through the woods, I reached signpost 19 and a gate towards camping areas. Past this gate, there was almost nobody except me and the cows.
The Ohlone Wilderness Trail winds its way up through San Francisco Water Department land and then reaches the Ohlone Regional Wilderness proper. This area was full of blooming wildflowers fed by the recent rains. Fortunately, it wasn’t too muddy except where cows had trampled the trail. I had to dodge around a couple cow groups that were intent on blocking the trail (and of course, plenty of cow pies left on the trail), but the open serpentine grasslands of this area make that easy. There are some great views of the back side of the Mission Peak area.
After a bit of a dip to cross the South Fork of Indian Creek (2800′), it’s a couple miles uphill to the summit of Rose Peak. It might not be the highest point of Alameda County, but it has better views than the true high points due to a paucity of trees at the top. You can see Mt. Diablo, Mt. Hamilton, the Santa Cruz Mountains, the South Bay, and many other points of interest. The Ohlone Wilderness trail map has a good compass indicator of what’s in sight.
The summit register was a complete mess of loose papers. I found a usable pen and a bit of space to sign in. I noted my nominal completion of the Everest by the Bay peak list, although I’m not sure it really counts; I usually took shorter routes than those described. On the other hand I’m pretty sure I have gained more than thirty thousand feet in climbing various Bay Area peaks, so whatever.
I started back at about 3pm; the journey back was uneventful except for a quick view of a coyote running by in the distance. When I got back to the Sunol Regional Wilderness, I detoured once past the gate at signpost 19 to Camp Ohlone Road. It’s much more boring than the McCorkle Trail, but I was okay not reascending a couple hundred feet. I got back to my car a bit after 6:30pm, well before closing time, and headed home.
San Francisco Bay Area Nifty Ninety: 73/90
California Coastal Peak List: 61/302