Itineraries > North America itineraries > Ohlone Wilderness Trail
|Ohlone Trail route|
Arroyo del Valle Trail → East Shore Trail → Ohlone Wilderness Trail
This trail is about 29 mi (47 km) in length, excluding the trails that connect to it along the way and each end of the trail. It begins at the southern end of Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore, California, and ends near Mission Peak at Fremont. Most of the trail goes through Ohlone Regional Wilderness. (By the way, the name "Ohlone" refers to a Native American tribe that once dominated in the area.)
The trail is a difficult one, with several high ridges resulting in steep climbs and then speedy descents in elevation on the other side of the ridge. The trail's lowest elevation is at the Fremont end of the trail, which is only a few hundred feet above sea level; the trail's highest elevation is almost 4,000 ft (1,200 m) at Mount Rose.
The trail is also extremely remote and there is no sign of the civilized world along a lot of the trail. If you want to feel like you've escaped the civilized world but you're not interested in traveling to the South Pole, Guadalupe Island, Franz Josef Land, or the moon, this is a good trail to hike.
The climate of the Ohlone Regional Wilderness Trail is similar to that of the cities directly north (Pleasanton and Livermore), but will probably be several degrees colder at the highest elevations along the trail.
Summer is probably the most difficult time for hiking due to the region's high temperatures during that season. During a cooler day in June, July, August, or September, temperatures could reach a high of 75 °F (24 °C) to 85 °F (29 °C), depending on the elevation of that section of the trail. During a heat wave (which is usually about once a year), temperatures could definitely pass 100 °F (38 °C) at lower elevations of the park and even pass 110 °F (43 °C) during extreme weather conditions. Rain, especially heavy rain, is extremely unlikely during summer months.
During winter, rain is more likely but still not very likely. At the park's highest elevations, snow is a possibility. High temperatures will probably be 50–60 °F (10–16 °C), depending on the elevation, during this time of year. Low temperatures will probably be around 20 °F (−7 °C) during December at the highest elevations.
Spring and autumn are of course between the other seasons when it comes to temperatures, although rain is slightly more likely in spring than it is in the fall. Temperatures during spring and autumn will vary, usually either resembling summer temperatures or winter temperatures. Sometimes, however, a day with optimal weather conditions occurs, but this not as common as you would hope.
- Winter: wear a few layers of clothes with the expectation of high temperatures being around 50 °F (10 °C) and low temperatures being around 20 °F (−7 °C) during cold winter nights at higher elevations. Expect temperatures several degrees higher at the lowest elevations of the trail.
- Summer: wear fewer layers of clothing with the expectation of high temperatures being anywhere from 75 °F (24 °C) to 100 °F (38 °C) and low temperatures being around 50 °F (10 °C) at the highest elevations. High temperatures will probably be around 85 °F (29 °C) at lower elevations.
- Food: there are no stores along the trail, so bring what you would need for 1-2 nights camping.
Since there are two ends of the trail and both ends have parking options, you could start the trail at the Mission Peak staging area, one of the Del Valle staging areas, or at Sunol Wilderness. This itinerary will begin at the southern Del Valle staging area.
To reach the southern staging area of Del Valle, drive along Livermore Avenue southeast out of Livermore. This road becomes Tesla Road. After a few miles, you should reach the junction with Mines Road. Turn right and continue straight along this road; it will become Del Valle Road and lead into the southern section of Del Valle Regional Park. There are a couple parking areas at the southern end of Del Valle.
Fees and permits
A permit is required to enter Ohlone Regional Wilderness, which can be obtained from the Del Valle Regional Park's southern entrance.
You will need to reserve some campsites via the East Bay Parks District.
This itinerary assumes that you will walk about 6 mi (9.7 km) to 10 mi (16 km) per day. This may not seem like a lot, but you have to remember that the Ohlone Trail is a difficult trail and you will have a lot to carry with you for camping.
This section is based on the park map.
Begin the journey along the Ohlone Regional Wilderness Trail to Stewart's Camp. This means walking along the short Vallecitos Trail to the beginning of the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, where you sign in. Then, continuing along the Ohlone Trail, you hike to an elevation of about 2,400 ft (730 m) at the first ridgetop and then come down a few hundred feet to 2 William's Gulch before climbing to an elevation of 3,500 ft (1,100 m) and then turning right on Greenside Road to Stewart's Camp. The total distance from the beginning of the Vallecitos Trail is to Steward's Camp is 6.6 mi (10.6 km).
If you have the time for an extra hike, you should definitely go an extra half-mile west (one mile round trip) from Stewart's Camp to see the beautiful 3 Murietta Falls. Although not much water flows from the falls, the rock face which the water trickles down is quite dramatic.
For the second night, sleep at 4 Stewart's Camp.
Next, you have a journey of more than 10 mi (16 km) to the Sunol Backpack Camp on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. This part of the hike is probably the farthest from people or any civilization because the few hikers that were willing to hike all the way to Murietta Falls do not go past that point. During day three hiking, the elevations on the Ohlone Trail reach their highest, peaking at an elevation of 3,817 ft (1,163 m) at 5 Rose Peak. After Rose Peak, however, the Ohlone Trail steadily descends to the backpack camp, which is at an elevation of about 1,200 ft (370 m). However, the region near the camp has some of the most beautiful views along the whole Ohlone Trail, with high mountains and canyons, including views south toward 1 Little Yosemite.
For the third night, you can sleep at 6 Sunol Backpack Camp.
The next part of the journey is the stretch of the Ohlone Trail from the Sunol Backpack Camp to Mission Peak Regional Park, a hike that is approximately 8 mi (13 km) in length.
On your way west on the Ohlone Trail from the Sunol Backpack Camp towards Sunol Park headquarters, you will first come to the 7 W Tree Rock Scramble, a dramatic canyon close to the Sunol Backpack Camp. From here for a few miles, you follow the McCorkle Trail, which passes through quite a lot of chaparral country. Eventually, the McCorkle Trail intersects with the Canyon View Trail, which is where you turn left. This trail leads toward the Sunol Park headquarters. The Canyon View Trail becomes the Indian Joe Nature Trail, and after less than a mile from the McCorkle Trail junction reaches a bridge over Alameda Creek. Cross the bridge and you will be at the Sunol Park headquarters. On your right should be the 8 Sunol Wilderness Visitor Center.
From the park headquarters, you will temporarily head south along the Ohlone Wilderness Trail and you will need to sign-in again. After this, the trail resumes its westerly path, crossing 9 Calaveras Road and then climbing the final ridge, the ridge where Mission Peak can be found.
After a few more miles of ascending Mission Peak, you will reach Mission Peak Regional Park. You will walk in Mission Peak Regional Park for less than a mile before coming to the intersection of the Ohlone Regional Wilderness Trail and the Eagle Trail. Turn left at the Eagle Trail, and you should soon arrive at your next camping location, the 10 Eagle Spring Backpack Camp.
Once you have left the backpack camp the next morning, you only have a few miles to hike to the Mission Peak staging area in Fremont. However, you should definitely make the short diversion to the top of 11 Mission Peak, where there are some of the best views of the Bay Area - including many cities, which you'll probably be somewhat glad to see after having hiked through such remote country.
From Mission Peak, you will make the descent into Fremont. Expect to see thousands of other hikers along this section of the trail, which is a drastically more on the beaten path than everything else on the Ohlone Trail.
Finally, when you reach the 12 staging area, you have one more problem to solve in the near future: the car you left behind at Del Valle. The best way to solve this would be to hire a taxi back to Del Valle or use the two car one direction hiking technique, unless you want to walk all the way back along the Ohlone Trail again.
The remoteness of the Ohlone Trail makes safety extremely important. However, the sign-in system for the trail is designed to possibly save lives of hikers.
Whenever you enter a section of the Ohlone Trail that is permit required, you will reach a sign-in location. There are a few of these along the trail at various points. Whatever you do, one of the most important things to while hiking the Ohlone Trail is to fill the sign-up sheets out. You will have to enter your name, when you started hiking, and where you are going. Then, if you write on the sign-in form you're going to hike three miles in total but you don't come back after ten hours, East Bay Regional Parks staff can search the trail and look for you. This means that you must stay on either the Ohlone Trail, one of the connecting trails to the Ohlone Trail, or at one of the campgrounds so the park staff can find you. They won't have much chance of finding you in the Ohlone Wilderness if you have gone off the trails - there's a lot of wilderness for them to search through.
The biggest temperature-related issue on the Ohlone Trail is probably the heat. Although heat is not an issue for most of the year, June-September are regularly hot. The worst area for this will probably be around Sunol Wilderness - the Fremont area is naturally cooled by the San Francisco Bay and most of the rest of the trail is at a higher elevation, so temperatures will be lower. However, Sunol Wilderness is at a low elevation and temperatures can reach 115 °F (46 °C) there during the worst heat waves.
During the winter, cold weather could be an issue, but the cold weather is never as extreme as the hot summer weather is.
Most of the wildlife is peaceful in the Ohlone Wilderness - that is, most of it. There are mountain lions and rattlesnakes in the East Bay in general, and these could definitely be found in wild areas like the Ohlone country.
Mountain lions are the largest dangerous animals. They tend to sneak up on any danger or prey and not face it head-on, which is why mountain lions can be a huge danger. You could just be walking through a woodland and then, out of nowhere, a mountain lion appears a few feet away from you.
The good news is that the mountain lion population is quite small and is spread over a large area. Mountain lions, being cats, do not like to gather with other animals of their own kind. This mans that your chance of confronting one is small.
If you are lucky enough to meet a mountain lion, stay confident. If you're scared and you try to run away or hide, you're putting yourself at great risk. Instead, try to scare the mountain lion away by making yourself look as large as you can and by throwing stones and sticks at the animal. This should scare the mountain lion and cause them to leave you.
Rattlesnakes are the dangerous small animals: it's easy, especially on a narrow trail, to almost step on them and not realize they are there. However, there are some ways that you can avoid having to confront a rattlesnake in the first place.
- Watch where you are walking. That way, you'll see the rattlesnake before you get close to it, and you can wait for the snake to go away before continuing your hike.
- On a wider trail, stay near the center of it. If you are on the edge of the trail near a grassy area where a rattlesnake could be, you are in more danger than if you at the center of a trail and you have a few feet of open area around you.
However, if you get near a snake, don't spent your time working out whether or not it's a rattlesnake. If you can, just step back. You should be in little or no danger unless the snake coils itself, its offensive and defensive position, where it can reach its neck out toward you.
- Del Valle Regional Park is to the north and is at the beginning of the Ohlone Trail. It's a good place for swimming, boating, exploring, panoramic views of Livermore and Lake Del Valle, and some interesting cliffs.
|Sunol Regional Wilderness|