Moderately hilly scenic loop. 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. 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. The first part of this trail has the best manzanita stands in the park, with glorious masses of white blooms from December into January. Half way along, the trail overlooks the Providencia pond to the right and an old quarry to the left. The quarry really lights up towards sunset. The trail now climbs ever more steeply up to join the Mine Hill trail, where you should take a right turn. After 0.2 miles, make a left turn down the narrow Prospect #3 trail, but make time to stop and enjoy the view at the rocky outcrop at that intersection, which is full of wildflowers in the spring. Afternoon sun colors the very air green, as the light diffuses through the thick canopy that covers the Prospect #3 trail along most of this stretch. All kinds of flowers and ferns decorate the trail, which stays cool and moist longer than most other trails in the park. The junction with the Randol trail is marked by a full picnic bench with fine views of the hills. Take a well-earned break before continuing down 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 late March and early April, you should see most of the common flowers of the park somewhere along this tour, as well as some quite rare ones. Look for Yerba Santa along the Providencia trail. You may find Spreading Dudleya in the rocky outcrop at the junction of the Mine Hill and Prospect #3 trails; and really sharp-eyed hikers may see Mission Bells and even the Striped Coralroot orchid along Prospect #3. The latter grows on the right bank almost at the end of the shaded section.