If you are looking for a place to hike and explore in the Sonoma Valley, then head over to the beautiful Jack London State Historic Park. Built on the property owned by the famous author, this park has miles of trails, lots of historic structures and tons to explore. Here is all the information on the places I visited in the park, which include the Wolf House (historic mansion that burned down), the silos, the museum, the cottage and the pig palace. Check it out below.
- $10 to enter
- 1.2 miles round trip to the Wolf House and grave
- 1 mile round trip to the cottage and silos
Jack London State Historic Park is located off Arnold Drive in the town of Glen Ellen, right in the Sonoma Valley. As you get closer to the town, you will see the signs for the state park off to the left, and after a 2-mile windy road, you will be at the entrance to the park. After paying the fee, there are two parking lots, one that goes to the Wolf House and museum while the other goes to the cottage and silos. I went to Wolf House first then the cottage after.
After parking in the south parking lot, head up the short, tenth of a mile trail to the beautiful stone building that is now the museum. The museum was built by Charmain London as a memorial to her husband’s life and work.
This building has loads of information the Londons, including first additions of his books, a movie about their life and two floors of exhibits. I was interested in the layout of the Wolf House that he planned to build since that is where we were hiking next. It is amazing to see what the property would have looked like.
The room dedicated to his fateful attempt around the world (which ended after 20 months, instead of the planned seven years) was especially enlightening, and I appreciated the adventurous spirit Jack London had.
Going upstairs leads to more exhibits on his life and adventures, complete with pieces he picked up around the world on his travels. If you go on the weekends they have a docent there who will be playing the piano he had from 1909.
Wolf House Trail
After visiting the museum, connect with the .6 mile trail to the Wolf House. This trail takes you through shaded trees, past poison oak and up and over rolling hills. It is a beautiful trail with amazing opportunities for photos as you go along.
The trail eventually reaches a split that goes to the Wolf House and Jack London’s grave site.
Jack London’s Grave
The short tenth of a mile split takes you up a hill to the final resting place of Jack London.
There is a sign that talks about how he wanted to be buried at the top of the hill with a rock put over him from the house. That is exactly what his wife did, and you can see the rock and his grave site here.
Proceeding on, the trail will take you back down the small hill and on to the Wolf House. In about two-tenths of a mile, the house will come into view right next to a small redwood grove.
The house burned down in 1913 from a fire that no one knows what started it, only months before they planned to move in. The house had cost over $75,000 to make, and so it was a huge loss to have it burn down like this.
The ruins themselves are quite impressive with all of the stone for the fireplaces and some of the walls still in place. You can walk all around it but can’t go in since it is unsafe.
On the backside, there is a small overlook that you can climb the stairs to and that takes you up to a view down into the house’s ruins.
This area is excellent as it has maps and floor plans for you to see at as you look out over the house.
After taking it all in, head back on the trail you came to the parking lot.
From here drive your car the short distance to the upper parking lot which has the cottage, silos and pig palace. All of these stops are worth the visit as well.
Trail to Cottage, Winery, Silos
The trail from the parking lot is about .3 miles to get to the cottage. Along the way, you will go past different pieces of the ranch that are still standing today.
You can even see the building he created just to keep the manure of his favorite horses for fertilization around the property.
The cottage itself is where the London’s lived and where Jack wrote many of his books. It is also where the guests stayed when they came and visited. The cottage is open most days till four but when we went it was closed so I didn’t get to see inside of it.
Below the cottage is the walls which remain of the old winery that they had on the property.
Heading on you can walk the back trail which takes you around the bend and has you walking along a dirt path with beautiful vines on one side of you. The trail leads to the old silos and the pig palace. The grapes in front of you are part of a private vineyard now.
The silos were one of my favorite parts of this trail as they were pretty cool for photographs. They have no real purpose now, but they are still in great shape and have stone walls that lead them up to about 35 feet in the air.
We walked all around them and enjoyed seeing the light shine through the middle.
The next spot you will reach is the pig palace. Jack London designed and built this unique structure in 1915. It had 17 pens and was an example of the best sanitation practices during the early 1900’s. Each of the pigs had their own pen, in what looked like a typical zoo set up.
It was interesting to see what he created here and how well it has been kept up. After checking out the Pig Palace, you can head back out on the small single track nearby to the parking lot.
All in all, this is a fantastic state park to visit in California. It is full of beautiful and historic spots all only a small hike from the parking lots. I plan to come back and explore more in the future. Let me know if you have been in the comments and what you thought.