About 60 miles (1 hours and 10 minutes driving time) south of San Jose you'll find an under-appreciated gem of Californian history and natural beauty, Fremont Peak.  This peak, formerly Mexican territory, was named after General John C. Frémont after he raised an American flag there in 1846 in defiance of the local Mexican authorities.


  • Sweeping views of Monterey Bay and Salinas Valley
  • Short but very scenic hike around Fremont Peak with some exciting rock scrambling
  • Interesting California history lesson at the mission of San Juan Bautista

From San Jose, follow Highway 101 south for approximately 40 miles. Then take the exit toward San Juan Bautista and follow the directions towards Fremont Peak State Park.

If you are ready for a morning coffee, make a stop at Vertigo Cafe in San Juan Bautista

After you make a right on San Juan Canyon Road, the surroundings will become increasingly scenic. The final stretch winds steeply along the ridge line until you reach the entrance to the state park. 

Park in the upper parking and follow the trail towards the right. You can use this map from AllTrails for guidance. You will loop around the Fremont Peak first, keeping it to your left, with sweeping views of the Monterey Bay toward the right. Once you reach the final ridge to the peak, it gets rocky and you will need to scramble towards the summit- watch your step! Enjoy amazing 360 degree views before heading back. You can leave the same way you came or head towards the radio antennas and follow the road. The total hiking distance is approximately 1.2 miles. 

Tip: You can camp and stay overnight at Fremont Peak (close to the parking lot).

Back at your car, head down the same road you drove up, towards San Juan Bautista. This town is remarkable for its historical buildings and one of the few places where you will see chickens and roosters roam the streets.  A great place to stop in San Juan Bautista is the local mission.  These missions line the entire state from North to South along El Camino Real. Walk around the grounds and see the tracks of the old El Camino Real, which looks quite different from the modern road you might know that runs between San Jose and San Francisco. You can also explore local history in the mission's museum rooms, and see the San Andreas Fault here.

We recommend Jardines de San Juan, with its great outdoor patio, for lunch, appetizer or dinner.

Looking for more day trip ideas? Check out kimkim's top 10 day trips in the Bay Area

Detailed route map


Map of Fremont Peak State Park and San Juan Bautista - SF Bay Area day trip
Map of Fremont Peak State Park and San Juan Bautista - SF Bay Area day trip