Turtle Rock

Malcolm Margolin has worked extensively to chronicle the history, culture, and literature of the Native Americans of the Bay Area. In honor of him, I’d like to share a story I discovered while I was researching for my project. The Ohlone, who consisted of more than fifty groups native to the Bay Area, have one account of creation that coincides with the winter solstice. The record goes that, before humans and other animals existed, the turtle’s shell contained the souls of all the living beings. At sunset on the winter solstice, the sun’s rays shone directly into a round boulder atop a sacred spot in the Santa Cruz Mountains. As the boulder cracked from the sunlight, the turtle’s shell split open, releasing the captive souls. Every year on the winter solstice, the Ohlone celebrated special rituals at the holy rock, which is now part of Long Ridge Open Space Preserve. I’ve hiked to this spot before; the view from the rock is incredible, and there is certainly a sacred presence about the place. To get there, drive to the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 9 and head North on Highway 9. A little less than two miles down the road, there is a small turn-off on the right by a trailhead for Upper Steven’s Creek County Park. The trail to Turtle Rock starts on the opposite side of the parking spot. It’s a short quarter mile hike to Turtle Rock.

The Literary Ranger