Jack London State Historic Park

20.00 Miles
3stars (3.00)4
3stars (3.00)
2point5stars (2.75)
2400 London Ranch Rd.
Glen Ellen
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While you might have read some of London's books, you might not have known that he devoted much of life to experimenting with new techniques in farming and ranching to increase yields and sustainability. The many buildings and ruins in the park are testament to this. Signage and displays provide a good deal of detail about the lengths he went to push the agricultural envelope.

The trails running around and to the farm buildings provide some of the more flat and easier to navigate paths for those wanting a shorter walk or something not too taxing.

The uphill portion of the park is marked by a tree line that partially shields the viewer from the severity of the incline that awaits.

One of the many exhibits inside the House of Happy Walls. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Clever flower pots built into the external stonework at the House of Happy Walls. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
House of Happy Walls
The park's main museum is located in the house built after the Wolf House fire and Jack London's death. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
House of Happy Walls Trail
When heading back to the trailhead we went down the dirt trail that would pass the park's main museum in the House of Happy Walls. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Trail View
Headed back towards the trailhead on the Wolf House Service Road. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Greenlaw children
The nearby graves of the Greenlaw children include wooden markers. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Grave site
A simple stone, taken from the Wolf House ruins, marks their final resting spot. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Jack London's Gravesite
The humble resting place of Charmian and Jack London. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone examines a rock walled path not far from the Wolf House. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Ultimately a four story house, here three levels are evident due to their fireplaces. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Reflecting Pool
A view of the interior courtyard's reflecting pool. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Wolf House
The remains of Jack's beloved Wolf House are a poignant reminder about the fragile nature of our plans and dreams. (Photo by Austin Explorer)

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Log Entries
A short stroll and a lot of history
By Austin Explorer on 4/14/2019
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 1.91 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 15 minutes

During all of our previous visits to Jack London State Park Coppertone and I had not visited many of the historic exhibits here.  We always intended to do so, but we were more focused on hitting the trails than looking at exhibits.  Today we wanted a nice leisurely walk and decided to log some of the trails that focus more on the life and legacy of Jack London and his "mate" Charmian.

The Wold House Service Road is a one lane paved service road that heads towards Jack's dream home, the Wolf House.  The path is pleasant enough for a paved trail and might be ADA compliant.  It parallels a small stream that was flowing nicely with a couple of tiny waterfalls here and there.  In a mile or less you'll come up to Jack's dream abode.  Sadly, he and Charmian never got to enjoy the house as it burned in a fire just weeks before construction was to be finished.  All that remains are bare stone walls, some held up by steel support beams the state has put in place to keep the remaining structure from deteriorating further.  A small loop of trail provides views of the mansion from different angles.  An elevated platform "enters" the perimeter of the building and provides views of the reflecting pond and other features.

On the way back we took the short spur trail leading to the site of Jack and Charmian's graves.  A simple rock lies over their cremated remains.  If there were no fence and wooden sign indicating this was their resting place you would hardly give it a second thought.  The graves of the two pioneer children who lie nearby have resting places that are more significant.

The single track trail leading to the House of Happy Walls Museum was the way we headed back to the parking lot.  The museum had just undergone an extensive renovation and we found the exhibits very interesting.  Be sure to place your finger on the letters of the large metal topographic map near the entrance.  It's a multimedia spectacle.  If you're a Jack London fan then you'll definitely want to visit the museum and visit its well stocked gift shop that has special editions of most of his works.

In all we got in just short of 2 miles, not counting the distance we covered in the museum itself.  Not a serious hike today, but a pleasant morning.

Muddy Day
By Austin Explorer on 3/25/2018
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 7.38 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 47 minutes

Coppertone and I had decided to revisit Jack London State Park earlier Saturday when the forecast was for no rain for the next week.  Saturday night it rained, but we didn't change our plans.  So we encountered some fairly muddy trails in certain parts of the park.  Coppertone indicated that it's "always" muddy when we visit.  It wasn't until later I logged onto hikingtrailhead.com and saw that our two previous hiking visits here were in January of different years.  Not exactly the best time to avoid rain and mud!

We ventured into the park's SE corner to hike some of the trails near Fern Lake and the historic orchards.  Our preferred path there, Vineyard Trail, was closed for the "season".  We're not sure what the season is, but I would guess it has something to do with winter and it's rains.  We doubled back and went down Quarry, which bypassed the closed segment.

We did a loop around Fern Lake, leaving the park property for a brief period of time.  When we looped back into the park we had intended to circumnavigate the lake on Inner Fern Lake Trail.  However, the trail from Orchard Road seemed to be a bit overgrown and had some brush piled up on it, something that's often done when park managers don't want people walking down trails.

We had another option in Red Hill Road (it's a jeep trail maybe, not a real road) that we took to SDC's Camp Via.  A large tree had recently fallen across the trail that we had to skirt under, but it didn't provide too much of an obstacle.

From Camp Via we we stopped by to visit the nearby Ancient Redwood.  A kiosk as we approached seemed to highlight a nice, but scarcely impression grove of Redwoods that gave Coppertone a bit of a letdown.  But we continued down the path and were rewarded with a suitably impressive giant that clearly lorded over the young upstarts we had spotted a bit earlier.  This old giant has apparently seen 2,000 years of history.  Very impressive.

We completed a loop around the edges of the orchards, crossed over South Asbury Creek and used the Fallen Bridge trails to get back to Mountain Trail for the main (and somewhat less muddy) path back to the trailhead.

Klondike Challenge Graduation Hike
By Austin Explorer on 1/28/2017
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 2.50 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 3 minutes

Coppertone and I had both taken part in the Klondike Challenge to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Jack London's life.  A select group of folks were invited to attend a ceremony at the park where some prizes were given out and stories shared about our hiking adventures.

After getting to know everyone the group set out on a 2.5 mile loop around London Lake.  The originally planned trek to the ancient Redwood tree was shelved given the recent heavy rains which had caused creek levels to rise.

Muddy outing
By Austin Explorer on 1/10/2016
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 10.30 Miles Duration: 5 hours, 22 minutes

Coppertone and I decided to make our first trip to the park that started the 500 mile Klondike Challenge this year in which we are both participating.  The recent rains let up on Sunday and we decided to take a chance with the mud.  We brought extra shoes to wear on the way home, just in case.  Our boots got plenty muddy and footing was a bit slippery on some of the steeper downslopes, particularly on Coon Trap Trail.

After discussing our options we opted for the circuitous Sonoma Ridge Trail loop that ultimately resulted in over 10 miles of hiking for us.  By the end of the hike we were plenty tired.  Despite the heavy tree cover over much of the path we still managed to find several impressive overlooks peering into Sonoma Valley below.

We were surprised by the number of buildings and structures remaining from Jack's agricultural experiments.  The information signs that discuss the poor farmers of the Sonoma Valley in the early 1900's seem a stark contrast to the wine culture that predominates today.

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