Q is for…
My weekly ramble #26 and places in California
In order to get ready for our big hiking adventure this weekend, my friend and I went for a training hike last Sunday. Originally we had planned to hike up to Mount Umunhum. Unfortunately the new road up to the top, as well as the access to the trailhead, have just recently reopened and we couldn’t find any parking on a Sunday morning at 8.30 am. What is wrong with these Californian early risers? It’s Sunday, the day of rest 😉
Anyway, we had to turn around to drive down Hicks Road. Another one of the many interesting places in California. While I was trying to find a link for this street, I discovered that there are some scary rumors going around about Hicks. It’s not only known to be a hell of a hard bike climb, but supposedly a haunted asylum and a satanic albino community are settled in its vicinity. Read more about it here:
Places in California: Quicksilver
We parked at the “Hacienda” entrance of the Quicksilver County Park. That’s when I remembered that the next post of my series “My A to Z of California” for the letter Q is due. And that’s why this post is a combination of “Q is for” and my weekly rambles.
Spectacular in natural diversity
Officially called Almaden Quicksilver County Park is a 4,163 acres (17 km²) park that includes the grounds of former mercury (“quicksilver”) mines adjacent to south San Jose. The park’s elevation varies greatly: the most used entrances (on the east side of the park) are less than 600 feet (183 m) above sea level, while the highest point in the park is over 1,700 feet (518 m) above sea level. Quicksilver County Park is located in South San Jose.
Oak woodland, chaparral and grassland dominate the park. The mosaic of plant communities provides breeding, shelter and foraging habits for a wide range of wildlife. You can see lizards, black-tailed deers, lots of birds and the occasional rattlesnake. Also mountain Lions and bobcats make rare appearances.
A landmark of California history
The park is the site of over 135 years of mining activities. You can find the remains of structures left over from up to 1,800 miners all scattered about the park. The biggest concentration at what was known as English Camp, established by Cornish miners in the 1860s. And there is a memorial honoring the Civilian Conservation Corps firefighters that were stationed there for a time. The work of this Corps has been very meaningful. During the time of the CCC, enrollees planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed trails, lodges and related facilities in more than 800 parks nationwide and upgraded most state parks. The Casa Grande is home to the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum.
Since we didn’t have a plan, we just started hiking up Mine Hill Trail and took a left to English Camp Trail. On top of the hill, the former English Camp, we hiked about five more miles. Walking up and down Capehorn Pass and Hacienda Trail, we accomplished a 7.1 mile loop with about 1,850 feet of elevation.
It turned out to be a great “training hike”. We did a lot of up- and downhill intervals with some really steeps sections. Fun!
Anywhere you go in the Quicksilver County Park, you will find great views of San Jose and sometimes down South towards Morgan Hill as well. The park offers of huge variety for hikers. From a short loop with just a few hundred feet of elevation you can extend your hikes as far as you like.
And this extraordinary blue Californian sky above your head always makes it even more beautiful.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series “P is for…”.
And don’t forget to check out Jo’s latest Monday walk in Coverham Abbey here. Beautiful flowers and squares.