Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
4,028.00 ft (1,227.73 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
19.50 mi (31.38 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Rising above San Jose and the East Bay in the Diablo Mountains, Rose Peak is one of the area's highest points. To reach it, advanced hikers can traverse a 19-mile route it its summit via the McCorkle and Ohlone Wilderness trails through beautiful grasslands endemic to the San Francisco Bay region. This route begins at the Ohlone Wilderness Trail.

The gate to the Ohlone Wilderness Trail is supposed to open at 8 a.m., but you can arrive a little earlier (it usually opens about 15 minutes before 8 a.m.) to get an early start. You'll want to utilize every minute of daylight, especially in winter when the days are short.

Start by crossing Indian Joe Creek, joining Canyon View Trail, and following it for 0.7 mile. Then take a left and join McCorkle Trail, following it for 0.9 mile before turning left onto Cerro Este Road. Follow the fire road for 0.4 mile before turning right, reconnecting with McCorkle Trail. Follow the trail for 1.2 miles. You'll descend into a small valley and reach a cattle gate. Don't forget to close the gate behind you after you pass through it.

During these first few miles, the landscape will change a few times before you get onto the trail leading up and down the rolling hills. During most of the following miles, you'll be walking through pastures and you'll most probably encounter a herd or two of cows. 

Take a left and follow the trail uphill past several campsites. There's a pit toilet there—the sign there asks you to pack out what you packed in, including toilet paper. When you leave the campground, follow the trail, which becomes only the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. You'll be seeing trail posts regularly; follow the arrows in red circles. Any other fire road or trail is written on a black circle, but Ohlone Wilderness Trail is easily visible within the red ones. Hike through pastures and Lord-of-the-Rings-like landscapes covered in green or yellow grass, dappled with rocks, and, in spring, beautiful wildflowers.

After you cross a stream (which may not be there in late summer) and climb up what is the steepest part of the hike, you are very close to the peak. Walk on the ridge for about 0.3 mile before seeing a post with "Rose Peak" written on it on your right. Climb up the last hill, and you're on the top!

The permit/map has the names of all the peaks you can see from Rose Peak and the directions in which you can see them. See views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Diablo, Mount Tamalpais, and other peaks, and, if the air is clear (usually after a winter storm), you'll be able to see as far as the Sierra.

On your way back, just retrace your steps all the way to the trailhead.

To use the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, you'll need a permit, which also doubles as a map. Purchase it right at the trailhead; it costs $2. Parking at the trailhead is a separate fee and costs $5. Bring a water filtering system and/or a lot of water; the water sources may get dry in summer. Also, if hiking in summer, keep in mind that the entire trail is exposed. Bring a flashlight or a headlamp as chances are you might be finishing this hike in the dark, especially if you hike in winter.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Doesn't get busy. Great views. Water sources on the trail (must be filtered or otherwise treated). Pets allowed for day hikers (dogs on leash, no overnight stay).

Cons

Exposed to sun. Can get very windy. Bikes not permitted.

Trailhead Elevation

390.00 ft (118.87 m)

Highest point

3,817.00 ft (1,163.42 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Horseback

Permit required

Yes

Permit self-issue on site

Yes

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

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