Bay Area Adventures: Jack London State Historic Park

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A view of the Sonoma Valley from the Lake Service Road on the western side of the park

It’s the perfect time of year to go up to Sonoma: the rains have stopped, everything is blooming, the summer heat hasn’t settled over the valley yet, and nothing is currently on fire.

Jack London State Historic Park is one of our go-to spots in Sonoma, for a couple of reasons: it has miles of trails (most of which we’ve never walked on because little-kid legs aren’t up to it yet) and some really interesting things to look at.

If you turn left after paying your $10 at the entrance booth, you can park and take the trail leading to the House of Happy Walls (basically, the park museum — it’s filled with memorabilia from Jack London’s life and travels) and Wolf House (the mansion he sank all of his money into, only to have it burn down within a few weeks of completion).

If you turn right at the entrance booth, you can visit London Cottage (the ranch house where Jack London died) and go for a hike in the hills that make up most of the park.

Today, we turned right, determined to hike up to London Lake, which we attempted to do maybe three years ago but gave up on because it was hot as the inside of a pig and our kids (who were something like one and five at the time) were not having it.  Fortunately, today the weather was perfect, and my son was happily distracted from the fact that he was having to walk up a hill by the horses that were in front of us.

There isn’t much to London Lake, we discovered today.  There’s an old dam, and the lake bed behind it is filled with reeds and brown algae.  It’s nothing you’d just go hop into, is what I’m trying to say.  But, in Jack London’s time, it made for a great swimming hole.

After what amounted to maybe two miles of hiking, we drove into Boyes Hot Springs on the outskirts of Sonoma proper and ate lunch at El Molino Central, where the enchiladas suizas are to-die and you can spend the time waiting for your food watching yuppies try to park their Range Rovers in the world’s tiniest parking lot.

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