Jack London Ranch
Jack London was a larger-than-life writer, oyster pirate, sailor, gold prospector, intrepid traveler, war correspondent, dedicated farmer. He put a lot of effort into his "Beauty Ranch," which is now Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen. On the ranch, Jack London planted grapes, and raised horses, pigs and cattle on his rolling acres of land, the "Valley of the Moon."
London Ranch buildings - From the parking lot, it's a short walk to the ranch buildings. Close by, under the trees, are picnic tables and a drinking fountain. You can't go inside the barns (used for his Shire horses), but it's fun to wander around (if you have a stroller, it's pretty level).
- These are spineless cactus, part of an experiment by Jack London to feed cattle cactus (it was not successful).>
- Stop into the stone building (originally the Distillery when the ranch was a winery) to see antique farm equipment - plow, mower, spreader, 1900 water sprinkler wagon.
Jack London Cottage - Further up the way is the cottage where Jack London lived after Wolf House burned down. It's worth a quick stop to see the book-lined study where Jack London wrote and worked. Back of the cottage is a charming little garden, with a view of Sonoma Mountain in the distance, and two picnic tables in the shade.
Pig Palace - Just before the trail curves to the left by the silos, turn off onto the little path, and it's a short distance up the hill to the "Pig Palace." Jack London designed this deluxe accommodation for pig families. The central tower in the center was a big feed bin, surrounded by "houses" for the pigs.
Lake Trail - The Lake Trail begins at the parking lot by the ranch. It's an easy trail through the forest to London Lake (2 miles round trip). Jack London damned up the creek to provide water for his ranch, but it was also his personal swimming hole (and also a comfy bathhouse next to the lake). The picnic tables under the trees by the lake are a lovely spot to picnic, but the lake itself is rather overgrown with reeds.
Ancient Redwood - From London Lake , take the Vineyard trail to a boggling coast redwood. This magnificent tree is estimated to be 2,000 years old! Trail is 3.7 miles around trip from the upper parking lot.
Wolf House Trail -
Museum (House of Happy Walls)
- Jack London's wife Charmian built this house to hold special mementos from their travels. In the small museum, look for the detailed model of Wolf House, a scale model of the Snark, the boat Jack London and his wife sailed throughout the South Pacific, and Jack London's traveling trunks.
Wolf House Trail
- It's .6 mile (1.2 mile round trip) from the parking lot to Wolf House. You can take the trail through the woods, or there's a slightly shorter route along the paved road that goes from the parking lot. If you have a stroller, you can take the road, but be aware that it's easy going down, but steep going back up the hill to the parking lot.
- What a glorious ruin in the woods! Jack London spent two years designing and building "Wolf House." It was a custom built four-story house with reflecting pool in the center, galleries and porches. On the fourth floor, Jack had a study, and water tower was constructed to collect rainwater. Unfortunately, just as the house was completed, it burned down in 1913. Bring your picnic and lunch under the trees (picnic tables available).
Along the trail to the Wolf House, there's a turnoff to the knoll where Jack London is buried. (He died at the ranch in 1916.) It's a lovely peaceful spot. Most touching are the graves of two pioneer children, David and Lillie Greenlaw. A wood fence encloses two small, moss-covered wooden markers, "Little David died 1876," and "Little Lillie died 1877."
Tip: Throughout the park, poison oak is growing very close to the trail. If you're wearing shorts, be careful not to brush against it. On any hikes, bring along lots of water, especially in the heat of summer.