Jack London State Park

November 9, 2011

Jack London State Park (along with nearby Annadel and Sugarloaf Ridge State Parks) was closed in July of this year due to state budget cuts. The Valley of the Moon Natural History Association has recently been granted management of all 3 parks through the recent passage of Assembly Bill 42. Sonoma Magazine covered the bill passage in their October issue. Hopefully the park will reopen soon.

About Jack London

Jack London sure lived the good life. He was an internationally acclaimed author, world adventurer, man of the people, and at home an innovative farmer, loving husband, and gracious host. What a shame that at age 40, just 3 years after his nearly complete Wolf House burned down to its stone ramparts, Jack London died in large part due to the excesses and dangers of his wanderlusty life.

When his widow, Charmian London, died in 1955, their Glen Ellen land was deeded to the California State Parks system. Now encompassing more than 1400 acres, the park incorporates not just the relic of London’s dream house, but a restored cottage in which he wrote many of his later works, a museum of travel-related memorabilia in the stone bungalow built by his widow, the ruins of his inventive farming operation, and miles of scenic oak and eucalyptus-shroudded trails. The Park, like many others in our debt-ribben state, Jack London State Park is slated for closure in the summer of 2013.

It was on one of these trails, on the way down to the Wolf House ruins, that Doug and I strolled on the cold and wet January day of our first date. One of the best picnic spots is at a table overlooking the stone framework of their ill-fated mansion. Even a small child could navigate the .6 mile trail from the lower parking lot to the table and ruins.

 On the other end of the park, alongside the somewhat boggy remains of Jack and Charmian’s swimming hole, are a few more nicely shaded tables with a restroom nearby. The trail winds past London’s Hog Palace, a beautiful hillside vineyard framed with towering redwoods, and a quiet path through the trees to the algae-choked pond. (The x group is currently raising the funds needed to filter the pond of the swampy debris that has accumulated over the years.)

For larger groups, there are an abundance of tables near the upper parking lot under a eucalyptus grove on the way to the simple white cottage where the Londons spent their last years together. For picnic supplies, stop at Glen Ellen Village Market in town, just before you start up the hill to the Park. 

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