This weekend I finally got in a hike that’s been on my to-do list for a long time: Rose Peak in Ohlone Wilderness. On paper, the hike looks rather painful, coming in at just under 20 miles with 5000-ish feet of elevation gain. I was saving it for a day when I felt strong and fast, and that day was yesterday.
Rose Peak is often called the high point of Alameda County but that honor actually belongs to a slightly higher bump on a nearby ridge. Rose, however, is the highest *legally accessible* point in Alameda County. It is along the Ohlone Wilderness trail about half way between Sunol and DelValle. I chose to climb it from the Sunol side since it avoids the extra elevation gain of Williams Gulch.
It ended up being far easier than I expected – my route was just over 17 miles with about 4200 ft vertical. I hiked it at a leisurely pace, took lots of photos and lingered on the summit, and it only took 7.5 hours (I had budgeted 10). I always assumed Rose was a harder hike than that other long-hike Bay Area classic peak, Mt Sizer in Henry Coe, but Sizer is definitely harder.
I didn’t follow the Ohlone Wilderness Trail the entire way – I started up the Camp Ohlone Road and cut up the ‘Backpack Road’ to meet the Ohlone Wilderness Trail at the Sunol Backpack Camp. From there I followed the OWT along the ridge all the way to the summit. Once past the steep climb to and above the Backpack Camp the trail is a lovely rolling and gently climbing route. I really enjoyed it.
My return route followed the Bluff Trail, but it was only as I exited this route at a gate back on the Camp Ohlone Road did I see a ‘no trespassing, SFWD’ sign. After researching this I realize that information on this section is conflicting at best, and even with my due diligence (following all posted signs as I saw them and using the Ohlone Wilderness Map) I was not aware of this fact until I reached the gate as I exited the closed area. So fair warning – if you go this route and get in trouble, don’t say I didn’t warn you. That said, if I had received a ticket I would have contested it since there is no information indicating the closure anywhere along the trails if you come from the east (in fact, they are labeled and given mileages on the Ohlone Wilderness Map with the message “Stay On Trail in S.F. Water District Land”. Which I did. So there.)
- Follow the rules, even if I (or half of the other trip reports you read out there) didn’t.
- Pick up the required Ohlone Wilderness Map which doubles as your permit. It’s $2 for a rather awesome map of the whole Ohlone Wilderness. And it’s good for a year.
- You can start from a few different trail heads in Sunol. I started along the pretty flat Camp Ohlone road to allow some warm up and cool-down time at the beginning and end of the hike. That’s probably a good reason why I’m not very sore from this hike.
- There is water available at some of the backpacker camps along the way. I carried enough with me, but I also brought treatment since I believe the water is non-potable.
- Don’t do this in summer. I enjoyed it on a sunny and cool spring day, but there is very little shade and a lot of exposure. I imagine the heat is intense and inescapable under the summer sun.