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:
The Senador Mine Trail leads southwest down a narrow valley,
the start of the New Almaden Trail. The hills on the right are covered
with wildflowers, particular poppies, in the spring. The New Almaden
branches off to the left. It crosses over a bridge and runs as a
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.
The Senador Mine Trail continues west to the Senador Mines
site is marked by 3 huge concrete structures, some 2-stories
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
was built in 1915. Its Herreschoff multi-hearth furnace and electric
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
on the north side. There's a picnic table and horse trough here. The
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
Valley and Santa Teresa Hills. The trail ends at the junction with the
Guadalupe Trail at a pass in the hills.
The Guadalupe Trail, which starts at a junction with the Mine
and the New Almaden Trail, heads west and drops down into the valley of
Guadalupe Creek. Guadalupe Creek flows northwest through the
valley at the foot of the towering Sierra Azul range to the west.
Mount Umunhum (from the Ohlone word for "hummingbird"), topped by a
Air Force radar station, overlooks the valley. The headwaters of
Guadalupe Creek begin on the slopes of Mt. Umunhum. A large portion of
Azuls, some 14,000 total acres, belongs to the Mid-Peninsula
Open Space District. It makes up the largest preserve in the district.
The Guadalupe Trail parallels the creek, running through shady oak
At one point, a short path leads down to the banks of the creek.
Guadalupe Creek is dammed up to form Guadalupe Reservoir. The
leads up to the dam and rises above the reservoir to join the
Hill Trail. The east shoreline and the dam are accessible from the
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
from mercury runoff. It is one of the more unfortunate legacies of the
mercury mining era.
The Guadalupe Trail ends at the junction with the Mine Hill
6.4-mile long Mine Hill Trail is the highest and second longest trail
the park. It runs nearly the entire length of the park, reaching the
high point at 1,700 foot Mine Hill, then descends to the park's
Entrance at Almaden Road, which is covered in the southwest
From the junction of the Guadalupe Trail south, the Mine Hill
passes the beginning of the Randol Hill trail, which branches off to
east. The Randol Trail is covered more in the southeast
trail page. The Mine Hill Trail begins to climb steadily to the
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,
Pond, located on a hillside above the upper reaches of Guadalupe
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
Entrance, or back to the north to return to the Guadalupe Trail
Heading back north on the Mine Hill Trail, from the southern
with the Guadalupe Trail, the Mine Hill Trail runs northwest along the
shady eastern slopes of the hills. (Bicycles are not allowed north of
Randol Trail junction.) The Almaden Valley and large portions of the
Bay can be seen from gaps in the trees. At 0.4 miles north of the
Trail junction, the short Cinnabar Trail footpath branches off to the
to provide a connector path to the New Almaden Trail.
The Mine Hill Trail continues north to meet the northern end
Guadalupe Trail and the New Almaden Trail crossing. The New Almaden
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
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,
gradually through a pass, then drops down along the western edge of a
sunny valley where deer can often be seen grazing. It then runs though
a narrow shady ravine to meet the Senador Mine Trail.
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