Mono Lake, CA 2018

Monday, March 10, 2014

Very Hard 2.7 mile hike at Almaden Quicksilver Mine Park

Everyone likes to do different things. Some enjoy bike riding, some boating, some sitting in the sun reading, some going to cities and attending concerts and theatrical performances. We enjoy hiking.

As our days count down here, we have finally gotten out to some of the local places we have known about for years, but somehow have never visited. Sunday we went to the Almaden Quicksilver County Park. As the name implies, it was the location of a cinnabar (mercury) mine.

There are three entrances to the park, with many trails. We choose a 2.7 mile loop that started and ended at a large free parking lot.  The trail was wide and sandy. It was a multi-use trail for bikes, runners, hikers, and equestrians. But we only saw a few. For a pleasantly cool Sunday afternoon it was not busy at all.

It definitely was the hardest hike we have done so far this season. The elevation change was over 500 feet. That's five hundred feet up in the first mile, somewhat flat in the mid-section, and then 500 feet down in the last mile. I'm not sure which was harder. My knees don't like steep downward walks very much.

A short flat section of the trail is visible from the trail above.

The grass is greening up nicely, and some of the trees are showing new leaves. Some did not lose their leaves, and some are yet to bud out. There were many nice views of the city below, but none of the pictures I took were very clear.

One thing I did notice was the large masses of poison oak along the trail. I had seen a warning sign on the trailhead information board. (Along with a warning about mountain lions.)

I am very sensitive to it and need no warnings to keep on the path and not touch, but as we were going down I saw an Asian couple with two small children coming toward us.  The little boy was playing with a stick along the edge of the trail. I don't know how much he was touching the plants, but I warned the mom about the poison oak.  I hope he did not get into it.

After our hike we drove around to another part of the park and visited the
Casa Grande and Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum 

There were several volunteers wearing period costumes in the house. We were escorted by a very knowledgeable guide who seemed to really enjoy sharing the history with us.

This picture is from the web and is a bit soft
Two of the rooms were decorated with furniture and items from the same period as the house.

Our guide also took us thru the mining museum exhibit. It was in the space that had been the dining room.

We learned a bit about mining cinnabar, extracting mercury from the ore, and it's uses both past and present. 

The mine was the largest mercury producer in the US. Which is why the local newspaper is called "The San Jose Mercury News".


  1. And I thought cinnabar was one of those big sweet rolls that people eat. ;)

  2. The architecture of that building is stunning. Love old buildings.

  3. How interesting! I never knew that's why the newspaper had Mercury in its name. Cool!

  4. Interesting post. That sounds like a challenging hike. We are still in the "walk" stage but we are working up to "hike!"

  5. I grew up in that area of San Jose. I used to hang out there and run cross country in high school. It was all farmland back then (70s/80s). I don't remember that museum. Is that new? Nice hiking area.

  6. That sounds like a fine hike, for you and Craig, that is, not for Dave and me. Glad you enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed the museum part of the walk. And no, I didn't know that's why San Jose named its newspaper the "Mercury News"!

  7. Looks like a nice hike, it's amazing how we sometimes don't take the time to be tourist in our own home areas. When we moved to VT we made it a point to visit the many covered bridges that are there. I think we ended up seeing over 80 of them, went to places some folks living there all their lives had never been.

  8. We love hiking too. You can see so many things and it's good for you too. I agree about the knees on downhill, though. I'd rather go uphill. Hiking poles help a lot on the downhills and over rough ground. Do you have some?

    Poison oak...keep me away. I get it if a cat has been in it, picks up the oil and then I pet the cat or it sits in my lap when I have shorts on. I, too, am very sensitive to it.

  9. What a beautiful hike! We love little local museums like this one. I didn't know the San Jose Mercury News got their name from this enterprise. You must be counting the days--nearly single digits?


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