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Vargas Plateau hike

Updated: Nov 21, 2021

Location : Vargas Plateau Regional Park, Fremont, CA

Parking : Free

Trail type : Loop

Trail Length : 5 miles

Elevation Gain : 1240ft

Difficulty : Moderate

Trails traversed : Cliff Trail > Deer Gulch Trail > Vargas Road > Morrison Canyon Road

Pets Allowed ? Yes

This is the newest regional park in Fremont, and by new, I mean , 5 years old, as of this writing. While its popular cousin, Mission Peak, offers views of the entire Bay Area, this trail rewards the hiker with a birds eye view of Fremont, including Quarry Lakes and Lake Elizabeth. It is best traversed in winter when the hills are green or in spring when wildflowers are in full bloom. The trail has no shade throughout the regional park except on your way down on Morrison Canyon. So attempt this hike on a cool day.

View of Mission Peak over Vargas Plateau's green rolling hills

There are two entrances to this park. The official and most popular one, with ample parking, is on Vargas Road, at the Vargas Plateau Staging Area. The hike I have described here starts from the lesser known entrance on Morrison Canyon, a few feet beyond Morrison Canyon and Canyon Heights intersection. There are only a handful of parking spaces in front of this entrance. However, there is sufficient parking on the neighborhood streets on Canyon Heights.

Start at the iron gates on Morrison Canyon Road, past the old barn with the interesting sign boards. The first half mile or so of the trail takes you behind some houses (you feel sorry for the folks living so close to a public access trail).

Wildflowers separate the trail from the neighborhood homes

Then the trail starts getting steep for another mile or so, as the views get better.

Green hills with Lake Elizabeth in the distance.

As you climb uphill, you come across a small, shaded grove after which the trail becomes less steep.

Be ready to encounter lots of cows and cow patties along the way.

The trail continues over a few rolling hills and past a few rock formations, This is a great midpoint stop for a quick snack or water break, while taking in the views of the entire city of Fremont. I nicknamed this area "Stonehenge of Fremont" for obvious reasons :-)

A quick break at the rocks

"Stonehenge of Fremont"

Most of the climbing is complete by the time you reach the rocks, after which you start going downhill until you reach the Vargas park entrance. At the park gate, hang a right onto Vargas road. The road takes you past a couple of old barns. Stop and say hello to the horse, if you see one.

In a quarter of a mile turn right onto Morrison Canyon Road. This road is blocked off for any vehicular traffic and open to only pedestrians and cyclist. The road is almost fully shaded. Continue on this road until you reach your parked car.

This trail provides a great workout and a good way to escape the mad crowds on Mission Peak. Other than a horse rider or two along the way and freely roaming cattle, you will come across very little foot traffic. An excellent way to start or end your weekend.

View of Alameda Creek, Quarry Lakes and the Bay in the distance.


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