“A scenic hike that visits several of the old cinnabar (mercury ore) mining historical sites.
— Joan Pendleton
Views · Wildlife
Easy, wide, well-maintained trail. Interesting old mining sites and ruins. Picnic tables. Views.
A loop route through scenic, rugged, hilly southeastern Quicksilver Park. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this area held some of the world's most productive cinnabar (mercury ore) mines. This loop visits several of these old mining sites.
Need to Know
- There are many historical placards with pictures and details, at the sites that this trail visits, so stop to read a few.
- There is also an outdoor display of old mining equipment at the Hacienda entrance to Quicksilver Park.
- Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum is near by on Almaden Road.
Mine Hill Trail
- Part 1
This hike begins on Mine Hill Trail
at Quicksilver Park's Hacienda entrance. The trail winds through the woods, gradually climbing on the hillsides of the rugged hills of southeastern Quicksilver Park. Several trail junctions are passed, and one should make sure to continue on Mine Hill Trail
Shortly after a junction with Castillero Trail
, April Trail
is reached. Follow April Trail
as it gradually descends, emerging from the woods on a hillside, with views of the San Francisco South Bay area and East Bay hills, to the right. The trail then does a U-turn, and old mining trestle remnants, April Trestle, come into view on a distant hillside. The trail continues to April Trestle and runs next to it, before making a U-turn to run along the hillside overlooking April Trestle that is a short ways below the trail. Towards the site of the old April Tunnel entrance, the trail veers left at the steep hillside of Mine Hill. The trail continues through the woods, on the side of Mine Hill that is to the right of the trail. Soon a small wooden structure, the restored Powder House, comes into view. After passing the Powder House, the trail rejoins Mine Hill Trail
Mine Hill Trail
- Part 2
Turn right onto Mine Hill Trail
. Continue through the woods for a third of a mile to the San Cristobal Mine Spur
, and turn left onto it, to visit the old San Cristobal Mine tunnel entrance. Upon returning to Mine Hill Trail
, go left on it. Soon, another junction with Castillero Trail
will be reached, as Mine Hill Trail
emerges from the woods, and views of the Santa Cruz Mountains become visible. Stay to the right to continue on Mine Hill Trail
. A little over a half mile after passing Castillero Trail
, a short spur trail to Catherine Tunnel is reached. Visit the site of the old Catherine Tunnel by turning right and following the Catherine Tunnel Spur
From the Catherine Tunnel Spur
, go left onto Mine Hill Trail
. At the Castillero Trail
junction, stay to the right to follow Castillero Trail
that is an open trail with views of the Santa Cruz Mountains on the right. This section follows the Mine Hill hillside that drops off to the right, and continues up on the left to the Mine Hill summit. After going through a short wooded section, the old Mine Hill Rotary Furnace ruins come into view. Continuing past the Mine Hill Rotary Furnace ruins, the trail veers left. and comes to Hidalgo Cemetery Trail
Hidalgo Cemetery Trail
Turn right onto Hidalgo Cemetery Trail
and pass ruins of the on-site mine supervisor's house, on the right. A few hundred yards further down the trail, is its junction with the Yellow Kid Trail
. This is the site of Spanish Town where the Mexican, Chilean, and Spanish miners and their families lived. One continues down the Hidalgo Cemetery Trail
enjoying views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Almaden Reservoir. After about a half mile one arrives at the site of the old Hidalgo Cemetery. The fenced area remains, but the tombstones have been removed.
Yellow Kid Trail
Returning from Hidalgo Cemetery, turn right onto Yellow Kid Trail
, a trail through thick brush and woods. One soon arrives at the site of the entrance to the Main Tunnel of the New Almaden Mine. Continuing another few hundred yards, one comes upon the site of the Yellow Kid Tunnel mine entrance. After a few hundred more yards, Yellow Kid Trail
ends at a central trail junction, where it meets Castillero Trail
and English Camp Trail
. The site of the old English Camp is on the right.
English Camp Trail
Go right at English Camp, past the picnic tables, onto English Camp Trail
. The trail descends through woods for a short ways, and then on brush covered, more open hillsides, with views of the rugged Quicksilver hills. The Deep Gulch streambed is below the trail to the right. English Camp Trail
ends at Mine Hill Trail
. Go right onto Mine Hill Trail
and follow it for .4 miles to Quicksilver Park's Hacienda entrance.
Flora & Fauna
Grass, brush, and wooded sections. Deer.
History & Background
This area was home to some of the world's most productive mercury mines and processing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to the mines in these hills, there were furnaces to process the cinnabar (mercury ore) into mercury, towns where the miners and their families lived, and roads. This hike visits several of these sites:
Mine tunnel entrances - April, San Cristobal, Catherine, Main, and Yellow Kid Tunnels. All but San Cristobal Tunnel have been closed up.
Spanish Town - Mexican, South American, Spanish miners and families lived here. Stores, school, church, etc.
English Camp - Cornish miners and families lived here. Stores, school, church, etc.
Mine Hill Rotary Furnace - processed cinnabar into mercury.
Hacienda Furnace and processing - processed cinnabar into mercury, at Hacienda entrance.
April Trestle - carried mine cars into and out of April Tunnel.
Powder House - blasting powder to make tunnels, shafts, etc. was kept here.