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Almaden Quicksilver County Park


East Shore of Guadalupe Reservoir from Upper Mine Hill Trail

Almaden Quicksilver County Park is one of the jewels of the Santa Clara County Park system. In terms of size, historical significance, and natural beauty, it rivals any state park. The park sits on the southern edge of the Silicon Valley, with millions of people and thousands of businesses and industries spreading out below it to the north. It occupies most of the Los Capitancillos Ridge, running southeast from the Guadalupe Landfill to Almaden Reservoir. To the north are the upscale suburbs of the Almaden Valley. To the southeast is the historic mining town of New Almaden. To the southwest is the soaring forested wall of the Sierra Azuls, topped by Mt. Umunhum. The park takes up 4157 acres of steep hillsides, cool forests, open meadows, and deep valleys. It borders two long reservoirs and contains several small ponds. It is crisscrossed by trails, including 33 miles for hiking, 25 miles for equestrians, and 10 miles for bicycling. The park is mostly undeveloped, but its history includes intense mercury mining operations that date back to the Gold Rush Era. The mercury mined from here was used in gold and silver mines in the Sierras to extract the precious metals from the ore. The hills here are honeycombed with tunnels that run for thousands of feet, some below sea level. All mining has ceased, and most of the tunnels have been sealed up. However, remnants of the park's mining history can be seen scattered throughout the park and in the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum in New Almaden. The vast majority of the park, though, is undeveloped wildland, filled with wildlife and covered with trees, grasses, and beautiful spring wildflowers. It provides an ideal and easily-accessible escape from the pressures of the fast-paced life in high-tech capital of the world.

Almaden Quicksilver is near several other large parks. 2,241-acre Calero County Park is to the south. 1,688-acre Santa Teresa County Park is across the Almaden Valley to the east. The towering Sierra Azul range is to the west, with some 14,000 acres of parkland  in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. To the northeast is San Jose's Almaden Lake Park. The Alamitos Creek Trail runs down the Almaden Valley as short distance to the east of Almaden Quicksilver. The Mockingbird Hill Entrance to the park can be easily reached from the south end of the Alamitos Creek Trail.

I've been hiking and photographing Almaden Quicksilver County Park for many years. On this Website is a small collection of some of these pictures, taken from 1997-2000. For more information about Almaden Quicksilver County Park trails, go to my Santa Clara County Parks hiking Web Page.

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Created 3/6/2001, updated 10/23/2003 by Ronald Horii

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