Bay Area Hiking


Almaden Quicksilver County Park

Southeast-side Trails and Mining Structures

San Cristobal Mine Entrance

The southeast side of Almaden Quicksilver Park has a wide variety of terrain and a number of remnants of the park's mining history. The main trails here are the Randol Trail and Mine Hill Trails. The Mine Hill Trail is like the park's main highway. It starts at the Hacienda entrance in New Almaden and runs almost the entire length of the park along its main spine for 6.5 miles to the park's northern entrance at McAbee Road. The Mine Hill Trail  is the widest, highest, and straightest in the park, actually one of the old mining roads. It is one of several trails that are open to bicycles. It is heavily used by bicycles, equestrians, and walkers. From the Hacienda Entrance, it climbs in a long, gradual relentless climb to its high point at Bull Run, just below the peak of 1740-foot Mine Hill. This latter portion can be seen on the Southwest Trails page. From Bull Run, the Mine Hill Trail runs along the shadeless crest of the ridge, then drops down through oak forests past the Providencia Trail and Randol Trail. The northern part of the Mine Hill Trail is described more in the Northside Trails page

Mine Hill Trail leading up to Bull Run above the Hacienda and English Camp Trail junction

The Randol Trail is one of the longer trails in the park. It runs along the middle of the eastern slopes of the park's ridge for 4.7 miles, in-between the Mine Hill Trail and the New Almaden Trail. It is shadier and flatter than the Mine Hill Trail. It is wider and sunnier than the New Almaden Trail. It starts in the south at the junction of the Mine Hill Trail and the Capehorn Pass Trail. It runs relatively level, while the Mine Hill Trail continues to climb. The Randol Trail follows the contours of the hillsides, winding in and out of narrow canyons, but not as much as the New Almaden Trail. The trail is open to bicycles and is much easier than the Mine Hill Trail, but it does have some short ups and downs. It passes by the Day Tunnel and the Buena Vista Shaft Site, which are shown below. The Randol Trail eventually ends at the Mine Hill Trail just south of the Guadalupe Trail junction. The northern junction of the Randol Trail with the Mine Hill Trail is described more in the Northside Trails page.

Bend in the Randol Trail  Shady portion of the Randol Trail Bicycles on the Randol Trail

There are a number of old mining structures on the southeast upper slopes of the park. They can be reached by taking trails from the Mockingbird Hill entrance or the Hacienda entrance. A number of small side trails branch off from them. Starting from the high point of the park, Mine Hill, 3/10 of mile below Bull Run, a short branch leads off the Mine Hill Trail to the only mine entrance that has not been sealed shut. The San Cristobal Mine entrance is open for a short distance, then is blocked by a gate. The mine shaft is visible through the bars of the gate. Cool air can be felt coming out of the mine. Bats live in the mine and can sometimes be seen flying in and out of the tunnel. 0.4 miles farther down the Mine Hill Trail, the April Trail is a small loop trail that branches off and descends to the west.  At a bend it passes by a small brick building, the powder house, that was used for storing mining explosives. The trail descends to the remnants of a huge structure on a trestle where ore cars on rails would dump their loads into a chute. The chute would channel the ore into dump trucks. The trucks would take the ore to the rotary furnace on Mine Hill for processing.. The April Trail climbs back up to rejoin the Mine Hill Trail. A short distance away, the narrow, shady footpath, the Great Eastern Trail, descends to meet the Day Tunnel Trail, another narrow footpath. Taking this to the left, it reaches the Randol Trail at the Day Tunnel. The Day Tunnel is a sealed mine opening in the side of a cliff. There is a tree-shaded rest area here with picnic tables. A small pond lies below the tunnel opening. Piles of mine tailings from the Day Tunnel can be seen below the Randol Trail. Taking the Randol Trail to the west, it passes by the Buena Vista Shaft site. The hills near the shaft have a desert-like appearance, covered with piles of red rock mine tailings and scattered stands of pampas grass. The massive granite footings of the huge Cornish pump for the Buena Vista Shaft can be seen. Steel safety grills prevent falling into the dip pits within the footings.. A narrow footpath, the Buena Vista Trail, leads down through stands of chaparral and cool forests to the New Almaden Trail. The New Almaden Trail can be taken east for 1.2 miles to the Mockingbird Hill entrance.

Click on the thumbnails below to see a larger picture:

 San Cristobal Mine entrance
San Cristobal Mine tunnel, shot through grate 
Brick powder house 
Old storage building
View of railroad trestle and chute 
Close-up view of chute 
Hills above the April Tunnel 
Great Eastern Trail to the Day Tunnel Trail
 Tailings below the Day Tunnel from the Randol Trail
Day Tunnel entrance with pond below 
View of the Buena Vista Shaft site 
Footings of Buena Vista Shaft pump
Lilies by old timber and mine tailings Granite footings of the Buena Vista shaft pump Close-up of pump footing and safety grate The Buena Vista Trail near the New Almaden Trail

Created 3/5/2001, updated 5/23/2006 by Ronald Horii