Over ten miles of trails, views, and history. The Webb Canyon entrance is just a gate on a black top road up to a water tank, with only limited on-street parking. But this entrance places you more or less at the mid-point of the New Almaden trail, opening up a host of new hikes, including this sweeping tour. After a steep climb up the road, you join the Webb Canyon trail proper and contine to the junction with the New Almaden trail, which you should take towards the Cinnabar trail, through the winding, undulating canyons of the New Almaden trail. Ascend the quite steep 0.1 miles of the Cinnabar trail and turn left onto Mine Hill trail. Just a few minutes more and you will reach the Guadalupe reservoir where you turn left up the moderate slope. Continue past the turn to the Randol trail, noticing the remaining scars to the hillside from the fire of 2001. Notice also the majestic maple trees as you reach the start of the Providencia trail. Continue on to the junction of Randol and Mine Hill, where you can rest a while on the bench and enjoy the view of the Guadalupe Reservoir. The trail now begins a long climb, about 800 feet over the 2.2 miles to Bull Run. Once you turn the corner at the junction with the Providencia trail, you will get great views of the reservoir and all points north. Bull Run has another wonderful bench to rest, with a great view of Mt Umunhum, but if time permits, explore the adjacent Catherine Tunnel trail, which has another bench with equally amazing views, in this case of South San Jose.
Next head down the Mine Hill trail to the San Cristobal Mine, the only accessible mine entrance in the park. Notice how warm it is inside the short tunnel in the winter, and how cool in summer. Continue on down under the trees, taking the right fork to English Camp, where you can see the handful of decaying buildings, which is all that remains of the historic headquarters of the mining operations that dominated the park until the 1900's when the town was abandoned. Plaques scattered around the area tell much of the story. Notice the flowers and trees left over from earlier times. Retrace that 0.1 miles back to Mine Hill and continue down the slope to the junction with the Randol trail where you will make a sharp left. The next 2.5 miles are more or less flat, but undulate up and down 100 feet here and there. After 0.5 miles we pass the historic Day Tunnel area, with its picnic bench and shade, and another 0.8 miles brings us to another historically important area, where you can see the large granite foundations that remain of a building that held a water pump for the Buena Vista Shaft. The trail continues under mixed shade another 1.3 miles to the junction with the Prospect #3 trail, where another bench marks the spot.
Enjoy the fine views of South San Jose as you descend the sometimes steep Prospect #3 to the New Almaden trail, where you make a right turn towards home. After 100 yards or so, the trail passes through a rocky area that has just about every kind of bush in the park, then continues on in more typical fashion, winding in and out of canyons. The 1.4 miles will pass quite quickly as you marvel at the form and beauty of this stretch, with its large bay laurel and oak trees, numerous ferns, and spots of color from the many wildflowers. Turn right at the Webb Canyon trail marker and retrace your earlier route home.
Wildflower tips:In early spring you can find Milk Maids and Hound's Tongue along the New Almaden trail. You should see Rose Clover grows on the left bank as you climb away from the reservoir on the Mine Hill trail and you may find Spreading Dudleya in the rocky outcrop at the junction of the Mine Hill and Prospect #3 trails. Look for Periwinkle all around the English Camp area, left over from the gardens of the people that lived and worked here. There are good stands of California Saxifrage and Indian Warrior along the first part of the Randol trail, before you reach the Day Tunnel. In late April through May you may see Globe Lilies along the banks in the shady sections of the New Almaden Trail.