With views of the highest peaks in the Santa Cruz Mountains and deep into Silicon Valley, the Almaden Quicksilver County Park in San Jose has 37 miles of trail just waiting for your next day off. The park has nearly 20 trails in a range of different terrains in more than 4,000 acres, all of which can be explored with your on-leash buddies.
The park rests on the site of quicksilver mining operations (once the nation's largest) that ended in 1976 after 135 years in operation. The minerals extracted from these hills were key to separating gold from ore during the California Gold Rush. Now a nature preserve, the Almaden Quicksilver County Park is one of the area's most pawpular dog walking destinations. Your buddies are sure to make some new friends while they soak up the sunshine.
Consider your pups' preferences when mapping out a route. Some routes are reserved just for hikers and the dogs who love them. Other trails are multi-use, open to bikers and even equestrians. If your dog finds wheeled and hoofed traffic either exciting or terrifying, plan accordingly.
For a manageable 2.5-mile hike (about an hour for most pups), set out along the Mine Hill Trail before veering left onto the English Camp trail after 0.4 miles. When you reach the junction with Deep Gulch Trail, veer left and follow Deep Gulch back to the parking lot.
Many trails offer little shade on hot days, but the hiking-only New Almaden trail winds its way among the trees in the northern section of the park. It is easily accessed from the Mockingbird Hill entrance and extends to the McAbee Road entrance on the park's western edge. New Almaden can also be part of a peaceful loop: veer south on the Prospect #3 Trail, then east on the Randol Trail and before circling back to Mockingbird Hill on the Hacienda Trail.
If you or your pups have a nose for history, consider the 5-mile Historic Trail Loop mapped out by a local BSA troop. Download the interpretive brochure from the park's website so you can bone up on mining history at the 15 highlighted places of interest. The 2.5-to-3-hour journey begins and ends from the Hacienda entrance, traveling mainly along the Deep Gulch Trail, Castillero Trail, and Mine Hill Trail, with side-trips on the Yellow Trail and April Trail. The route takes you back to the 19th-century mining heyday here; you can peer into the tunnel of the San Cristobal Mine and explore the old camps that housed thousands of miners.
Many other routes are pawssible here, and a full trail map is available online. Whether you're looking for a quick stretch or an all-day adventure, you'll find it on the Almaden Quicksilver County Park Trails!