The Five Sacred Peaks of the Bay Area

The Five Sacred Peaks of the San Francisco Bay Area

<<< and their old names >>>


  1. Mount Saint Helena in the Mayacamas Mountains  <<< Mount Mayacamas >>>touches the Napa, Sonoma, and Lake counties 4341’
  2. Mount Tamalpais <<< támal páji, literally “west hill” >>> is the highest peak in the Marin Hills. The elevation at the East Peak, its highest point, is 2,574’.
  3. Mount Diablo is a mountain of the Diablo Range, <<< Tuyshtak >>> It is an isolated upthrust peak of 3,849’.
  4. Mount Montara <<< Camino Pedro Cuesta >>> 1898’ Due in part to its biologically isolated location near the end of a peninsula, the mountain has an extensive and unique biodiversity, especially on the serpentine soils of the lower slopes. A number of plant endangered species are found on this mountain, including the rare endemic manzanita Arctostaphylos montaraensis, named for this mountain.
  5. Mount Hamilton <<< Sierra de Santa Isabel >>> 4216’ and two other peaks along its ridge: Mt Copernicus – 4263‘ Mt Kepler – 4213’

According to Miwok and Ohlone narrative history, Mount Diablo was the point of creation. In one surviving story, Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais were surrounded by water; from these two islands the creator Coyote and his assistant Eagle-man made Indian people and the world. In another, Molok the Condor brought forth his grandson Wek-Wek the Falcon Hero, from within Mount Diablo.

About 25 independent tribal groups with well-defined territories lived in the East Bay countryside surrounding these mountains. The Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone from Mission San Jose and the East Bay area, called Mt Diablo, Tuyshtak, meaning “at the dawn of time”. The Nisenan of the Sacramento Valley called it Sukkú Jaman, or as Nisenan elder Dalbert Castro once explained, “the place where dogs came from in trade”.

bay area

Categories: CALIFORNIA