The History of Uvas Canyon

Uvas Canyon Park, a lushly wooded park of more than 1,200 acres, is nestled in upper Uvas Canyon on the eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. This mountain park offers hiking, camping and picnicking opportunities throughout most of the year. The park is open year round from 8:00 AM to sunset.

Driving to the park entrance can be as much of an adventure as hiking the trails. To get there take the Bernal Road exit off of Highway 101 and go west. Turn left on Santa Teresa Boulevard. Travel south three miles and turn right onto Bailey Avenue. Follow Bailey Road 2.3 miles to McKean Road. Turn left onto McKean Road (McKean Road becomes Uvas Road 2.2 miles south of Bailey Road). From Bailey Road travel 6 miles south on McKean/Uvas Road and turn right onto Croy Road. Continue 4.4 miles on Croy Road. You will drive through the private resort of Svaedal. At this point the road narrows to a single lane and although it may look like someone's driveway, this is the correct road. Please respect their privacy and drive slowly as you pass through Svaedal. The road ends in Uvas Canyon Park.

The park lies on the east side of the Santa Cruz Mountains on the Sargent Fault zone. Elevations within the park range from 1,000 feet at the entrance to 2,700 feet at the summit. Cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers contribute to a diverse and interesting mix of vegetation and wildlife. Forested areas include Douglas Fir, Redwood, Pacific Madrone, California Laurel, Black Oak and Canyon Live Oak. On southern slopes the typical chaparral community thrives. Along the creeks can be found Sycamore, Alder, and Bigleaf Maple.

Uvas Canyon was once the tribal territory of the mutsun Ohlone Indians. Various of their campsites have been located throughout Uvas Canyon. It was not part of any of the Mexican Ranchos. The nearby Rancho Las Uvas, which included most of Uvas and Llagas Creeks, was granted to Lorenzo Pineda in 1842 by the Mexican government. The area once had abundant wild grapes and Uvas is a Spanish word for grape.

Some of the earliest recorded settlers of Uvas Canyon included Richard Atkinson who moved into the canyon in 1865. A. Montoya arrived in the canyon in 1873 and built a large home while cutting timber and raising crops. Many of the early homesteaders of Uvas Canyon sold timber, much of it used in the nearby New Almaden Mines. Nibb's Knob, a landmark in the park, is named for Henry Knibb who homesteaded a parcel in the area in 1891. Bernt and Anna Martin homesteaded at the junction of Alec and Uvas Creeks about 1887, cultivating an orchard and vineyard. The Martins also ran a summer boarding house for vacationers which they called Martinholm. Ultimately, 120 acres of the Martin land would be sold to the Swedish American Patriotic League and be named Svaedal. The first 425 acres of what was to become Uvas Canyon Park was acquired by the county in 1961. An additional 256 acres were also purchased and in 1962 the park was opened to the public. Since 1961, over 600 acres have been added to the park.

Werner Hager at
Last updated June 25, 1997.
Copyright 1996 by Werner W. Hager and Micromoms. All rights reserved.