When we lived in Los Altos, if I wanted a quick hike I’d head over to Rancho San Antonio or Monte Bello. When we lived in Sunnyvale, I’d head over towards the parks around Steven’s Creek Reservoir. Now that we’re in San Jose, I’m closest to Almaden Quicksilver, and this makes me very happy.
AQS is so close to San Jose, but I have yet to run into the kinds of crowds I encounter at the other parks. Some parts of the park are busier than others, but for the most part I’ve found that it is easy to ‘get away from it all’ in a park that’s less than five miles from our house in the heart of southern San Jose. There are many trailheads in the park and one can choose a short easy hike, or an all day outing on the trails of Almaden Quicksilver.
One reason for the lack of crowds could be the lack of facilities and diverse recreational activities, but this is okay with me. Sure, there aren’t any fishing ponds, developed picnic grounds, boat launches, or manicured lawns. But there are miles and miles of trails that are open to hikers, bikers, dogs, and horses. From up on the ridge there are views of reservoirs, the Santa Cruz mountains, Silicon Valley, and surrounding areas.
Almaden Quicksilver also has quite an interesting history. While hiking the variety of trails you’ll come across remnants of the era where this was a bustling mercury mining area in the form of old mine tunnels, powder houses, and town ruins.
On Friday, while still recovering from a massively debilitating bout with allergies, I decided to head over to AQS to test my lungs and ability to be out in the wildflowers. It was a good choice – while I was huffing and puffing a bit more than normal, the wildflowers were out in abundance and variety. This gave me ample opportunity to take rests, as I kept stopping to photograph them.
I wandered the trails without a specific route in mind, and ended up covering about 7 miles of fire road and single track trail (careful, the single track is pretty poison oaky at this time of year). There are plenty of wildflowers out now – if there is one thing this rainy weather is good for it’s extending the wildflower season. Some photos of what’s out now are posted at the link below.