Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sonoma - Jack London Lake

Hike Route: Lake Trail => Lake Spur Trail => Upper Lake Trail => Lake Service Road => Lake Trail

This is a great easy hike for those visiting Sonoma or Glen Ellen. Its fairly easy and offers an extended option mentioned in this book. This is a state park so there is a parking fee (currently $8 per car as of Aug 2009). This hike is mostly in the shade but can get hot during the late summer so bring some water.

From the parking lot, head up the Lake Trail around the winery vineyard. Along the way are some great information displays.

Keep going on the Lake Trail toward the hills.

The Lake trail leads to the gate which is the intersection of the Lake Service Road. I prefer to turn right and keep on the Lake Trail.

This part of the trail is a bit off the beaten path, so there are less folks and a more narrow trail.

There are some great old growth trees and nice places to stop and enjoy the peace and quiet.

At the next intersection turn right on the Lake Spur trail. There was a plastic sign noting the Spur Trail.

The Spur trail is a bit of an uphill, but also has some fantastic trees along the way.

The Spur trail runs into the Upper Lake Trail, turn Left at this point to continue around the mostly dry lake.

The intersection of the Upper Lake Trail and the Mountain trail is where the longer (10+ mile) hike up to the Sonoma Ridge Trail option begins. For the shorter 3 mile hike, turn right (downhill) toward the lake.

Soon you will see better views of the lake (which was 99% dry on this late summer day). Be sure to check out the very out-of-place Apple Tree at the base of the dam.

Keep left at this point, following the Dam around the lake. Jack London built this curving stone dam around the shallow, five-acre lake. The area east of the lake has a redwood bathhouse, which was often enjoyed by the Londons and their guests. There is a picnic area here as well.

After passing the picnic area, just follow the Lake Service Road back down toward the Lake Trail. The Service Road is a very wide gravel/dirt roadway. The Park service offers a great brochure and Map showing many of the other points of interest in the park.

View Jack London State Park in a larger map

Area - Jack London State Park (Near Glen Ellen, California)
Trails - Lake Trail, Spur Trail, Upper Lake and Lake Service Road
Length - about 3 miles - easy hike, some uphill on the Spur Trail
Trail - Out and back loop, well packed dirt trails.
Bikes - Allowed on some trails
View - Some views on the way back down of the Valley of the Moon
Getting There - From San Francisco/Sonoma head north on Highway 12. Take the signed turnoff (Arnold Drive) a mile to the hamlet of Glen Ellen. Turn right on Jack London Ranch Road and proceed 1.2 miles to the state park.
Fee- Yes, fee for parking
Weather - Can get warm or cool depending on the time and season. Beginning of the hike is in the open, the upper part is in the shade.
Other Trails - Lots of other trails - plus a full 10+ mile hike up the Sonoma Ridge Trail.