Jack London State Historic Park

Sonoma Valley

Napa has Robert Louis Stevenson, but Sonoma has Jack London. This 1400-acre park frames that author's last years; don't miss the excellent on-site museum. Miles of hiking trails (some open to mountain bikes) weave through oak-dotted woodlands, between 600ft and 2300ft elevations; an easy 2-mile loop meanders to London Lake, great for picnicking. On select summer evenings, the park transforms into a theater for 'Broadway Under the Stars.' Be alert for poison oak.

Changing occupations from Oakland fisherman to Alaska gold prospector to Pacific yachtsman (and novelist on the side), London (1876–1916) ultimately took up farming. He bought 'Beauty Ranch' in 1905 and moved here in 1911. With his second wife, Charmian, he lived and wrote in a small cottage while his mansion, Wolf House, was under construction. On the eve of its completion in 1913, it burned down. The disaster devastated London, and although he toyed with rebuilding, he died before construction got underway. His widow, Charmian, built the House of Happy Walls, which has been preserved as a museum, open 10am to 5pm. It’s a half-mile walk from there to the remains of Wolf House, passing London’s grave along the way. Other paths wind around the farm to the cottage, open noon to 4pm, where he lived and worked.

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