Bay Area Hiking


Almaden Quicksilver County Park

Park Trails - Northside

Senador Mine Herreschoff Furnace Remains

These are pictures along the park's northside trails. They run through some of the most scenic sections of the park. The north entrance is in the middle of a suburb in the Almaden Valley, but it is a neighborhood entrance with no parking lot and is not a staging area. Park visitors are requested either to not park near the entrance or to use the other park staging areas that have parking lots: Mockingbird Lane, the Hacienda, and Hicks Road.  Heavy rains may result in trail closures. Bicycles are not allowed in this area. A short paved road passes between the site of a former private dairy on the right and a hill and meadow on the left. The road crosses over a concrete bridge built in 1924 to ford a small creek. The road runs next to the creek and leads to a gate at the junction of the Senador Mine Trail and the beginning of the Mine Hill Trail. Trail maps are available at this junction. The Mine Hill Trail leads up to the left. 

Click on the thumbnails below to see a bigger picture:

Mine Hill Trail junction leading uphill

The Senador Mine Trail leads southwest down a narrow valley, passing the start of the New Almaden Trail. The hills on the right are covered with wildflowers, particular poppies, in the spring. The New Almaden Trail branches off to the left. It crosses over a bridge and runs as a footpath through a narrow ravine, then rises up to join the Mine Trail. The New Almaden Trail is covered in more detail on the New Almaden Trail page.

Poppies along the Senador Mine Trail  Start of the New Almaden Trail from the Senador Mine Trail Bridge on the New Almaden Trail, leading up to the Mine Trail 

The Senador Mine Trail continues west to the Senador Mines site. The site is marked by 3 huge concrete structures, some 2-stories tall,  that are the remains of the mine's 40-ton Herreschoff Furnace, built in 1915. An historical marker describes the site. The Senador (Senator in English) Mine opened in 1863 and was worked until 1926. The reduction plant was built in 1915. Its Herreschoff multi-hearth furnace and electric dust precipitator were the first ever used in the quicksilver industry. The mine produced some 20,000 flasks of mercury. A picture in the mining museum shows what the mine site looked like in its heyday. Now, the area is covered with grasses and chaparral, with huge piles of mine tailings on the north side. There's a picnic table and horse trough here. The Senador Mine Trail, which up until this point has been relatively level, begins a long, steady climb up the hill. As it peaks out, it swings around to the south, providing a view of the mine site below and parts of the Almaden Valley and Santa Teresa Hills. The trail ends at the junction with the Guadalupe Trail at a pass in the hills. 

Remains of the Herreschoff quicksilver reduction furnace Beginning of the Senador Mine Trail uphill climb Senador Mine Trail ascending View from the top of the Senador Mine Trail, looking at Herreschoff Furnace precipitators

The Guadalupe Trail, which starts at a junction with the Mine Hill Trail and the New Almaden Trail, heads west and drops down into the valley of Guadalupe Creek. Guadalupe Creek flows northwest  through the shady valley at the foot of the towering Sierra Azul range to the west. 3,486-foot Mount Umunhum (from the Ohlone word for "hummingbird"), topped by a decommissioned Air Force radar station, overlooks the valley.  The headwaters of Guadalupe Creek begin on the slopes of Mt. Umunhum. A large portion of the Sierra Azuls, some 14,000 total acres, belongs to the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District. It makes up the largest preserve in the district. The Guadalupe Trail parallels the creek, running through shady oak forests. At one point, a short path leads down to the banks of the creek.

Guadalupe Trail high point looking east Guadalupe Trail looking west towards the Sierra Azuls Guadalupe Trail leading to Guadalupe Creek Meadows along the Guadalupe Trail near Guadalupe Creek

Guadalupe Creek is dammed up to form Guadalupe Reservoir. The trail leads up to the dam and rises above the reservoir  to join the Mine Hill Trail. The east shoreline and the dam are accessible from the trail. Swimming is not allowed in the reservoir, but fishing is permitted for licensed fishermen. However, the fish in this reservoir, as well as in all bodies of water in the park's watershed, are unsafe to eat due to contamination from mercury runoff. It is one of the more unfortunate legacies of the mercury mining era.

Guadalupe Reservoir Dam Lower Guadalupe Reservoir near the dam Middle to Upper Guadalupe Reservoir 

The Guadalupe Trail ends at the junction with the Mine Hill Trail. The 6.4-mile long Mine Hill Trail is the highest and second longest trail in the park. It runs nearly the entire length of the park, reaching the park's high point at 1,700 foot Mine Hill, then descends to the park's Hacienda Entrance at Almaden Road, which is covered in the southwest trails page.

View from the Mine Hill Trail of the Guadalupe Trail rounding a hill Looking down at Upper Guadalupe Reservoir from the Mine Hill Trail, Mt. Umunhum in background

From the junction of the Guadalupe Trail south, the Mine Hill Trail passes the beginning of the Randol Hill trail, which branches off to the east. The Randol Trail is covered more in the southeast trail page. The Mine Hill Trail begins to climb steadily to the south, with spectacular views of the reservoir and the South Bay. Bicycles are allowed from here south on this section of the Mine Hill Trail, as well as all of the Randol Trail. A side trail, the Providencia Trail, loops off the Mine Hill Trail to the west and overlooks a tiny pond, Providencia Pond, located on a hillside above the upper reaches of Guadalupe Reservoir. The Providencia Trail climbs back up steeply to join the Mine Hill Trail. From here, the Mine Hill Trail can be taken to the south to the Hacienda Entrance, or back to the north to return to the Guadalupe Trail junction.

Beginning of the Randol Trail from the Mine Hill Trail
Mine Hill Trail leading south uphill
View of Guadalupe Reservoir from the upper Mine Hill Trail View of Providencia Pond from the Providencia Trail, Mt. Umunhum in background

Heading back north on the Mine Hill Trail, from the southern junction with the Guadalupe Trail, the Mine Hill Trail runs northwest along the shady eastern slopes of the hills. (Bicycles are not allowed north of the Randol Trail junction.) The Almaden Valley and large portions of the South Bay can be seen from gaps in the trees. At 0.4 miles north of the Guadalupe Trail junction, the short Cinnabar Trail footpath branches off to the right to provide a connector path to the New Almaden Trail. 

The Mine Hill Trail running along the east side of the hills View of the Almaden Valley and downtown San Jose from the Mine Hill Trail The Cinnabar Trail dropping down to the New Almaden Trail

The Mine Hill Trail continues north to meet the northern end of the Guadalupe Trail and the New Almaden Trail crossing. The New Almaden Trail, which has been approaching along the hillsides from the south, crosses the Mine Hill Trail and drops down through a narrow valley to its end at the Senador Mine Trail. The Guadalupe Trail heads uphill to the west to join the Senador Mine Trail. The Mine Hill Trail turns to the east, descends gradually through a pass, then drops down along the western edge of a broad sunny valley where deer can often be seen grazing. It then runs though a narrow shady ravine to meet the Senador Mine Trail. 

New Almaden Trail descending north of the Mine Hill Trail and Guadalupe Trail junction Mine Hill Trail descending near the McAbee Road entrance

A nice, scenic and popular 2-mile walk is to take the Senador Mine Trail to the Guadalupe Trail east, then take the Mine Hill Trail back. This loop takes less than an hour.

Created 3/5/2001, updated 7/2/2009 by Ronald Horii