Jack London State Historic Park offers an amazing variety of activities that cut across all interests, ages and capabilities. Whether you’re athletic or cerebral or both, there is plenty to keep you occupied at this 1,400-acre paradise.
For example, you might hike 29 miles of trails that range from flat and easy to steep and challenging, go bird-watching, erect an easel to paint plein air, peddle a bike or take a guided docent tour. You can view the magnificent ruins of London’s 15,000-square-foot mansion, Wolf House, which burned to the ground in 1913, two weeks before its completion, or learn about London’s adventurous life at the stone museum known as “The House of Happy Walls.”
You also could tour the simple cottage where Jack and his wife Charmian lived, go horseback riding, relax over a picnic, listen to a piano recital or explore the ranch’s historic farm buildings. And in summer you can sit beneath the night sky in the open-air ruins of an ancient winery and enjoy your favorite Broadway show tunes.
The legendary author of “The Call of the Wild,” “White Fang” and “The Sea-Wolf” accomplished quite a lot in his short life, and you’ll pack in a lot during your visit.
Here are a few highlights:
TAKE A HIKE
For stupendous views, you can’t beat the trek from Jack London Park to the East Slope Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail. It’s a challenging hike, about 7 miles round trip with an approximate 1,500-foot elevation change, but the view from the top is worth it. A less demanding 5-mile hike will bring you to the 2,000-year-old “Grandmother” Redwood tree, which has a 14-foot diameter. It’s the only survivor of the redwood forest that stood here before the area was logged.
Much shorter excursions abound. For example, it’s an easy walk to London’s infamous Pig Palace (an innovative pig pen), the dam and lake where the Londons swam with friends, or the historic silos and barns (don’t miss the display of horse-drawn farm equipment in the 1888 stone barn).
RIDE THE TRAILS
Triple Creek Horse Outfit offers guided rides along park trails, taking you through old growth oak woodlands into meadows and past ancient winery ruins. The ride is followed by a complimentary tasting at Madrone Vineyards Estate winery, established in 1863. (London himself enjoyed a glass of wine there now and again). triplecreekhorseoutfit.com.
GO ON A FREE DOCENT-LED TOUR
On weekends throughout the year, tours of the Jack London Grave Site and Wolf House leave at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. from the House of Happy Walls Museum; tours last approximately 1.5 hours. Also on weekends, beginning at 2 p.m. at the London Cottage, Beauty Ranch tours visit the barns, Pig Palace, silos and surroundings; this tour lasts about 1 hour. Both are free, and no reservations are required.
TAKE IN A BROADWAY SHOW
Warm weather brings sensational open-air evening performances of Broadway tunes in the old winery ruins, with award-winning Transcendence Theatre’s “Broadway Under the Stars” performances. From your seat you’ll watch the sky slowly darken and the stars come out, while real-life stars take the stage to sing and high-step in style.
"GO DEEP" WITH AUDIO TOUR