Hike the Anza Trail through the Cardiac Hills of New Almaden Quicksilver
by Hale Sargent, Anza Trail Interpretive Specialist
A steep climb up, followed by a swift hike down: This 3-mile loop along the Anza Recreation Trail in New Almaden Quicksilver County Park (near San Jose) includes an elevation gain of more than 700 feet. Learn why this park, rich in history, is dubbed the “cardiac hills.”
TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS AND ROUTE:
From the park’s Mockingbird Hill Lane entrance (free parking) the Anza Trail overlaps with the Virl O Norton Trail, whose trailhead is located at the eastern corner of the parking lot (point A on the accompanying map -- see Documents below).
Climb this trail for 1.2 miles. Then, follow the Anza Trail signage to turn right onto the Hacienda Trail (point B).
Continue your climb. After another 0.3 miles, you will reach a fork in the trail (point C). While the Anza Trail veers to the left, you will wish to stay right, continuing steeply down the Hacienda Trail to loop back toward the Mockingbird Hill Lane parking lot.
After 0.8 miles, turn right onto the New Almaden Trail (point D) to return to your car.
These hills were once home to a vast mercury mining operation and as many as 1,800 miners and their families. “Almaden” is Spanish for mine, and Almaden, Spain, is home to one of the largest mercury deposits in the world.
Cinnabar (mercury) was discovered here in 1844 and the area attracted world-wide interest during the Gold Rush. At the time, mercury was the primary agent to extract gold from ore.
Prior to the discovery of mercury in these hills, the land was part of Rancho San Vicente, a land grant given by the Mexican government to Jose Reyes Berreyesa in 1842. Berreyesa was the son of Maria Peralta and Nicolas Berreyesa, colonists who arrived to California as children on the 1776 Anza Expedition.
During the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846, John C. Frémont ordered Kit Carson to shoot and kill an unarmed Jose Reyes Berreyesa. The infamy of this event contributed to Frémont’s defeat in the U.S. presidential race of 1856.
For more information on New Almaden Quicksilver County Park and park rules, visit: http://www.sccgov.org/sites/parks/parkfinder/Pages/AlmadenPark.aspx
Zoom to this park on our interactive Anza Trail map HERE.
The View from On Top This 3-Mile Hike