History Revealed
Heritage County Park

Neil Wiley

A lot of well-interpreted Native-American history is packed into this little 4.5-acre park. Choose from a self-guided walk or arrange a group tour led by park interpreter Chris Carson, or a well-trained docent. You, your family, a school class, or any interested group of ten or more can have fun, while learning more about our local Ohlone people.

Sometime between 1700 and 2700 years ago, this park was a village the Mutsun Ohlones called Chitactac. The people are gone, but you can see several petroglyphs and over 75 bedrock mortars (bowls in stone) they created. The petroglyphs include cupsules and concentric circles with a center depression.

As you walk through this historic site, you can believe that you are in a Native-American village. Here is where they raised their children, collected nuts and seeds, created food from local resources, and fished in the creek.

Nine stations with interpretive panels are supplemented by additional panels and displays in an interpretive shelter. Trail panels include photographs and original art that describe Ohlone village life, buildings, petroglyphs, and foods, the natural history of Uvas Creek, and Spanish and Ohlone cultures in the 19th and 20th centuries. The shelter offers more about Ohlone culture, including language, trade, social structure, plant uses, food resources, post-contact Ohlone culture, and a large, real petroglyph.

You can learn how the village worked, buildings were constructed, rock art was made, food was processed, and natural resources were used. You’ll get answers to questions about the influence of Spanish missions, Mexican development, and American pioneers.
But how does “Adams” become part of the park name? An interpretive station, with historic photographs, explains that the Adams School was located on this site from the 1850s to 1956.

The facilities include restrooms without running water, outdoor hand-washing stands with foot pumps, drinking fountain, shaded picnic tables without barbecues, and two outdoor amphitheaters. There are many flights of stairs, but ramps provide access for the disabled to most areas.

For more information about interpretive programs, call 408-323-0107. An Educator’s Guide to the Ohlone People and a Teacher’s Guide to the park are available at the “For Teachers” link on www.parkhere.org.

While at Chitactac-Adams, you might wish to extend your trip to nearby Mount Madonna, Uvas, or Rancho Canada del Oro parks, visit the reservoirs along Uvas Road (Uvas, Chesbro, Calero), or shop in the Gilroy outlet stores.

Chitactac-Adams Heritage County Park is located at 10001 Watsonville Road in Gilroy. Take Highway 85 south to Highway 101 south. Exit at Tennant Avenue, and turn right (west) toward Monterey Highway. Turn left on Monterey Highway, drive for a half-mile south, and turn right to Watsonville Road. Drive 5.5 miles on Watsonville Road. The park is on the right, across from the intersection of Watsonville and Burchell roads.

Be one with the Ohlone.


Pen and water color art by Marcus Lui.
Pen and ink graphics by Linda Yamane.’
Exhibits designed by Daniel Quan.