Self Guided Tour
between Palm Ave and
Driscoll Road

Mission Creek can provide children with an outdoor experience to illustrate many environmental concepts.  It can give students an appreciation of their surrounding, and as they walk along the creek to school it will enforce the learning.  If they walk with their parents or friends, children will repeat what they learned.   This section provides some ideas and lesson plans for different grade levels.

The Mission Creek Restoration Project is an opportunity to look at the dynamics of a creek.  As you walk down the trail you can envision how Fremont looked when early settlers came to this area.  The plants provided food for many of the inhabitants of the region, while the critters in the creek provided food for larger animal.  As humans, we need to appreciate and understand how streams work and why it is important to keep our waterways clean and flowing.

Recommended Grades:  Primary to Secondary       

Subjects:  Physical Education, Social Studies, Science, Art

Fremont has been slowing metamorphosing from an agricultural area to suburban to urban center.  Some of the children living in Fremont are unfamiliar with ecological principals or the joys of natural environments.  Past generations of children used the creeks as their playground, now many children don’t even realize we have creeks in Fremont.

The Mission Creek Trail between Palm Ave and Driscoll can act as a vehicle that can enforce many cross curriculum principles. 


Science:  Mission Creek has abundant insects, worms, and many creepy crawlies.  All grades can visit the area and see critters and plants.  Just to visit and see the difference between spring and winter is information that will stay with a child forever.   Students can love science if they realize that observing and record information in a place like Mission Creek is science.

Students can learn many terms just by observing a creek.  Students can find words that help them describe what they see.  Math terms also help them descript especially geometry.  For example, how many leaves are on a branch and how are they arranged.  This helps build students descriptive language.

Social Studies:
Mission Creek was a valuable waterway not only for the Ohlone Indians but the early settlers.  It provided the needed water that was essential to live.

Physical Education: 
Walking and appreciating nature can be a lifelong hobby.  It is an excellent way to keep healthy. 


Mission Creek is an outdoor lab to collect data.  Students can use the area to observe water flow patterns as well as changing of wind patterns.   The microorganisms that live in the creek acts as a real look at nature under the microscope, not just a store purchased slide.

Students can use the creek to learn how to use nature as a metaphor to life.  Many words that we use to describe our road through live can be used as a comparison to nature.  For example, a troubled youth meanders his life from one decision to another.

Physical Education: 
Students can use the trail to run or just to walk along.  Students should also be aware that when they make short cuts through the vegetation, they might be disrupting a habitat. 

The guided tour information below takes you from Palm Ave toward Driscoll Road, the area restored in 2003.
Mission Creek Watershed

Water starts flowing from springs at Mt. Alison, near Mission Peak.  The creek flows along Mill Creek Road  and passes by the Mission San Jose.  Vargas Creek joins Mission Creek under the 680 Freeway. It continues to flow downhill toward Lake Elizabeth where it is joined by Morrison Creek. Mission Creek continues to flow alongside Lake Elizabeth, bringing nutrients and water to Stivers Lagoon.  Mission Creek divides under Paseo Padre into Laguna Creek and Irvington Creek. 

Elements of Mission Creek Stream Corridor

Many forces create Mission Creek’s stream channel over time. The abundance of water (surface or ground), type of rock, soil composition, biological growth, and tectonic forces are all at work.  Creekside vegetation is referred to as the "riparian zone."  It helps protect the stream channel while providing habitat for organisms who use the creek.

Pools and Riffles

A stream can be a challenge for organisms that live in water.  Flowing water can move mud, sand, and gravel.   The faster the water flows the larger the particles it can move.  As the water slows, particles will settle out and be deposited.  High velocity can scour areas that create pools, which support plankton (floating organisms), and larger animals like frogs and fish.  Riffles, or areas of gravel help provide dissolved oxygen as the water mixes with the atmosphere.  Organisms require dissolved oxygen to live.  

Erosion,  A Natural Part of Creek Evolution

A stream channel is created and maintained by its energy flow.  The erosion in Mission Creek is the result of topography, rock type, soil cover, climate, ground water, and vegetation. Erosion of the stream bed increases when velocity of the flow increases.  Soil and rock particles are detached when energy is highest.  In low energy areas particles will be deposited.  A stream is always changing. 

Tree Canopy Provides Healthy Conditions

Trees create many habitats for different organisms throughout the stream corridor.  Shade protects aquatic organisms by helping to lower the water temperature during the summer In the winter the canopy provides protection from the effect of storms. Tree roots assist in reducing erosion within the floodplain.

Biological Bonanza Downstream

Dissolved nutrients from the upper reaches of Mission Creek, flow downstream until it finds a topographically level area. Mission Creek and its tributary, Morrison Creek feed into Stivers Lagoon alongside Lake Elizabeth. Stivers Lagoon is a fresh water marsh, providing habitat for local flora and fauna.

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