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The Best Trails for Horseback Riding in Mission Peak Regional Preserve!

Do you crave the open air, to feel the rhythm of your horse as you explore uncharted trails under the vast Californian sky? If that sounds exciting to you, it’s time to get your horse trailer ready. Today, we’re heading out to one of the Bay Area’s prime equestrian locations – the Mission Peak Regional Preserve!

Located just east of Fremont, the Mission Peak Regional Preserve is a must-visit destination for all horse riders in the Bay Area. This 3,000-acre expanse of green, undulating hills, and magnificent panoramas has equestrian trails just waiting for you and your trusty steed to explore.

Mission Peak offers several horse-friendly trails, each providing a unique set of challenges and delights.

1. The Hidden Valley Trail

The Hidden Valley Trail offers a 6.2-mile round trip with a gentle incline. While the Hidden Valley Trail is quite popular for hiking and running, its steep incline and rugged terrain can present a fun and engaging challenge for seasoned horse riders. As you ascend, you’re rewarded with breathtaking views of the entire Bay Area, making the climb well worth the effort. As you and your horse meander up the trail, you might even be lucky enough to spot some of the preserve’s resident wildlife, like deer and hawks.
A word of caution, however: this is not a trip to undertake in hot weather. The trail offers little shade, and the environment can quickly become harsh. Make sure you bring extra clothing and a wind layer, as mountain weather can be unpredictable.

2. The Peak Meadow Trail

Intermediate riders will relish the Peak Meadow Trail. This pleasant 3.7-mile loop provides some steeper sections that’ll test your horsemanship.

This trail offers a fantastic blend of panoramic views and an array of local flora and fauna. While the Meadow Trail is considered moderate in terms of difficulty, it promises a fulfilling journey.

3. Mission Peak Loop from Stanford Avenue Staging Area

Let’s kick things up a notch with the challenging Mission Peak loop trail from Stanford Avenue staging area. It’s a 9.7-km loop trail that isn’t for the faint-hearted. Its constant uphill climb will test your riding skills but the reward is utterly fantastic. Panoramic views of the South Bay will greet you as you ascend, with the skylines of Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose visible on clear days.

The trail is a mix of well-maintained gravel base and hard-packed dirt and rock, becoming a bit more challenging during the rainy season. Stanford Avenue staging area is also your gateway to the expansive Ohlone Wilderness Trail, which spans 29 miles of southern Alameda County’s finest landscapes.

4. Mission Peak and Peak Meadow Loop from Ohlone College

Now, how about a ride with a twist? The Mission Peak and Peak Meadow loop trail from Ohlone College is a blend of trails that offers a fun-filled ride. This 18.3-km loop allows you to experience Mission Peak up close before descending and ascending from a different direction. Keep in mind, it’s considered a difficult trail, so it might be a ride for more experienced equestrians.

The loop portion is quite exposed, with only about 30% shade in the outer back section of Ohlone. However, the view and the challenge make it well worth it. The trailhead offers water sources and restrooms for convenience, with additional restrooms located below Mission Peak, where the loop starts and ends.

5. Bay Area Ridge Trail: Mission Peak Regional Preserve and Ed R. Levin County Park

Last but not least, we have the mesmerizing 15.8-km Bay Area Ridge Trail that connects Mission Peak Regional Preserve to Ed R. Levin County Park. This point-to-point trail can be considered a challenge to tackle, but it is a ride that you’ll remember!

As you traverse the high grasslands, you’ll conquer three lofty peaks that crown a rugged ridge. Get ready to be awestruck by the vistas of rolling hills, tree-filled canyons, and bay-side marshes from these exposed and often windy trails. There’s a sense of raw beauty and openness that you and your equine partner will absolutely adore.

The final 4-mile descent, which features some steep segments, brings you to a tranquil valley with a gorgeous lake – a perfect spot to catch your breath and soak in the serenity.

A detour to Mission Peak’s summit might prove tempting for many. But be warned, this narrow, steep, and rocky trail is a popular choice among hikers, so expect some company. And, of course, an early start will help you beat the heat during the climb.

This trail is open all year round, and dogs are welcome too, making it a versatile choice for horse riders, hikers, and dog owners alike. Mission Peak offers a wealth of opportunities to explore and discover, enjoy!

View a trail map, park info and more on the Mission Peak Regional Preserve site.

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The Best Trails for Horseback Riding in Mission Peak Regional Preserve!