Sweeping loop though much of the northeastern corner of the park Three trails leave the Mockingbird parking lot; you will leave and return on the narrow New Almaden Trail. The first 0.1 miles is uphill to the crossing of the Hacienda trail. Head down and along the narrow trail over the small wooden bridge. Between April and May, the next half mile has some of the finest wildflowers you will see anywhere. Like much of the New Almaden trail, this section cuts in and out of canyons as it rises and falls moderately. Cross a small stream and turn sharp right up the slope. At the top of this section the trail turns to the left and we should take the New Almaden trail at the fork. Here we pass through grassy hills and groves of mostly blue oaks, and wind in and out of canyons. After 1.3 miles, we take a left turn up the steep slopes of the Prospect #3 trail and arrive at a welcome picnic bench at the junction with the Randol trail. Here we turn left along the much wider and more open trail and should make good time over the next 1.3 miles to the junction with the Santa Isabel trail. You can take it to shave off 0.3 miles, but you will miss seeing the large granite foundations that remain of a building that held a water pump for the Buena Vista Shaft, which are about 0.5 miles ahead. The next mile is rather flat as you follow a contour around towards Cape Horn Pass. The last quarter mile is uphill before the left turn onto the Hacienda trail, which will return you to the New Almaden trail after about 0.8 miles of quite steep downhill. The steepness of the this downhil section should put to rest any thoughts of trying this in the reverse direction.
From the map you can see that there is an obvious option to return along the 0.3 mile section that connects the Randol and New Almaden trails. Or you can extend the hike by returning on the Virl O Norton trail.
Wildflower tips: This is a wonderful hike for the wildflowers. Between April and May, the first mile of the New Almaden trail will have over 30 different flowers on the banks, including the beautiful Chinese Houses and Baby Blue Eyes. Further along, about 0.4 miles from the Prospect #3 turn, you can see the rather rare Hooker's Fairy Bell and Fat Solomon Seal.