Grand tour of two of the main park trails. This hike begins with a long uphill climb, rising 650 feet on the Mine Hill trail over about a mile to the junction with the Randol trail. The next four 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 and then a further 1.3 miles to the Mine Hill trail. Here you can rest a while on the bench and enjoy the view of the Guadalupe Reservoir. The trail now begins its second 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. The next half a mile or so is one of my favorite stretches of trail in the park, with more wonderful views, and vistas in every direction. Take the English Camp trail down 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. The trail down is unspectacular and rather steep, but does offer reasonable views. For a shady alternative, you can try the Deep Gulch trail which also leads back to the Hacienda parking lot.
Wildflower tips:You may see good stands of California Saxifrage and Indian Warrior along the first part of the Randol trail, before you reach the Day Tunnel. You will see Globe Lilies along the banks in the shady sections of the Randol trail, and Rose Clover grows in thick stands on the left bank as you climb away from the reservoir on the Mine Hill trail. You may find Spreading Dudleya in the rocky outcrop at the junction of the Mine Hill and Prospect #3 trails, and you will see massive stand of Spanish Broom on the Mine Hill Trail along the Castillero trail. Look for Periwinkle all around the English Camp area, left over from the gardens of the people that lived and worked here.