Mapping segments and finding caches

Eldridge Cemetery Gate
What appear to be unmarked graves here were not always so. The headstones were removed in 1964.
User: Austin Explorer - 12/24/2020

Location: Jack London State Historic Park

Rating: 3stars
Difficulty: 3stars  Solitude: 3stars
Miles Hiked: 4.59 Miles  Elapsed Time: 3 hours, 31 minutes


Coppertone and I parked at the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) and hiked in the back way along Orchard Road.  This allowed us quicker access to several trail segments around Fern Lake that we had not yet hiked and mapped.  There was plenty of parking at the state facility, which is in the process of being decommissioned.

Orchard Road is a paved road and hardly constitutes a true hiking experience.  However, it is closed to all traffic with the exception of some employees.  So it provides an easy path into Jack London State Park.  The road actually ends at Camp Via which technically remains part of SDC and is completely enclosed by the park.

Along Orchard Road is Eldridge Cemetery.  SDC patients (previously SDC was known as The California Home for the Care and Training of Feebleminded Children) and 2 employees were buried between 1892 and 1939.  Headstones were removed in 1964 to protect the privacy of the families so all of the graves appear unmarked now.

We took a right onto Bay Trail to start a counterclockwise circumnavigation of Fern Lake.  Fern Lake Trail and Inner Fern Lake Trail were used to complete the loop.  Fern Lake seemed bigger than I was expecting.  I was also a bit surprised by the number of ducks and other waterfowl in the lake.   While hiking near the lake there was a near constant cacophony of duck squabbling or flights initiated or terminated in the water.  Lots of reeds and plants along the lake shore provides ample cover for the birds.

The trail segments around the lake were single track packed dirt trails.  "Real" hiking, if you like.  One section, which corresponded with the lowest elevation above the lake were a bit overgrown and the surface moist, despite the dry winter thus far.  During times of heavy rain this route may not be pleasant, if at all possible.  We also say a bit of poison oak, so be careful out there.

Part of the decision on where to hike also hinged on how many geocaches we would be able to find while we hiked.  In the end we snagged 8 new caches.  I also had the leasure of picking up a tick in the process, but hopefully got it removed before it could do any damage.

Knowing about the back entrance to the park means mapping out additional segments around the historic orchard area should be in our plans in 2021.

Log Photos
Eldridge Cemetery Gate
Suttonfield Lake
Fern Lake
Recommended Item
Recommended Item 101 Hikes in Northern California: Exploring Mountains, Valley, and Seashore
Matt Heid
List Price: $17.95 Your price: $13.54 Buy Now
101 Hikes in Northern California encompasses the full spectrum of the region’s incredible natural diversity—the jagged granite of the High Sierra, crashing surf of the Pacific Coast, magnificent redwoods of the North Coast, spectacular views of the Bay Area, and much more. All trips have been thoroughly updated for the second edition, and 26 trips have been significantly expanded or reworked. Each hike description includes an easy-to-use header outlining the trip basics, driving directions, an in-depth trail description, up-to-date map, and the locations of the nearest visitor center and campground.