Guide to Centennial Celebration at Jack London State Historic Park
One of the most popular state parks in Sonoma County was once the home and working ranch of Jack London, the most famous writer of his day and a world-renowned adventurer. 2016 marks the centennial celebration of Jack London's life.
Today the property is part of Jack London State Historic Park, a place of lush forests, redwood groves, meadows, hills that afford amazing views, and 29 miles of trails. You’ll also find a museum dedicated to the lives of London and his wife, Charmian; historic barns, silos, and other ranch buildings; the cottage where the Londons lived until Jack’s death in 1916; and much more.
There’s not only a lot to see at Jack London, there’s always something going on too. Many events are free (although a $10 parking fee usually applies). Here’s a peek at a few things happening in spring and summer 2016:
Wildflower Hike on the East Slope Trail (April 2): Hike the new Eliot Loop Trail, part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, to observe a wide array of wildflowers in bloom (imagine carpets of gold California poppies and purple lupine, and many other varieties of spring blooms). Park naturalist John Lynch will lead the moderately-paced 12-mile hike. Limited to 15, so you might want to make a reservation in advance.
Arbor Day Celebration (April, TBD): Join the special ceremony of planting a seedling from the beloved 400-year-old Jack London Heritage Oak, followed by a hike, fun family activities, and an auction of rare heritage oak trees. Check the website in April for details.
An Afternoon of Poetry (April 17): Join the 2016 Sonoma County Poet Laureate, Iris Jamahl Dunkle, and Katherine Hastings (2015 Sonoma County Poet Laureate), for a lovely afternoon of poetry beneath the portico of the House of Happy Walls museum. From 1-3 p.m., at the museum. Free.
Watercolors in the Cottage Garden (April 23): Popular local watercolorist Valerie Bader returns with a new class focusing on the springtime beauty of the Cottage garden.
From 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at the Cottage. Fee of $20 includes parking. Check the website in early April for more details and registration.
33rd Annual Plowing Play Day (May 1): This family event features early 20th century farming activities such as plowing, blacksmithing demonstrations, horse-drawn wagon rides with draft horses and mules, demonstrations by the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association and much more. Free. Check the website in April to learn more details.
Cycle to the Summit (May 21): Hop on your mountain bike and ride to the top of the Park with sustainable farmer and longtime winery owner Mike Benziger. You’ll meet at the Beauty Ranch meadow and ride through oak and redwood forests to the summit. After the ride, those 21 and older will meet at Wolf House Saloon to celebrate the ride. There will be a raffle drawing for a bike. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Check the website in May for more details.
Book Discussion Group (June 4): Now in its third year, this quarterly discussion group features one work by London at each session. The next group meets on June 4 to discuss London’s epic Sea Wolf. Admission is free. Each meeting is limited to 20 participants, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation in advance
Hiking for Fitness Series (Saturdays in June and July): Enjoy the outdoors while getting back into shape—and have fun at the same time. Learn the benefits of stretching, join a nutritionist on a hike while discussing the value of eating well, learn how mindfulness and yoga can enhance your hiking experience, and meet new friends while gradually getting into shape. Saturdays: June 11, 18, 25 and July 9, 16, 23 and 30. $15/each hike (includes parking). 8:30-11:30, meet in ranch parking lot. Check the website in May for more details.
Art at the Ranch (July 10): Bring the family and enjoy a day of art, music, and nature at Jack London’s spectacular Beauty Ranch. Wander the beloved ranch and view art work inspired by this fantastic piece of land. The day will include art, music, food and family activities such as Jack London’s favorite’s bubble blowing and kite flying. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free.
Broadway Under the Stars (June-September): Take in an evening performance of Broadway show tunes in the majestic ruins of an old stone winery, watching the sky darken and the stars come out while real-life stars take the stage. Shows in this award-winning series run from June 17-September 11, 2016.
Ina Coolbrith (August 27): Meet author Aleta George as she presents Ina Coolbrith, the Oakland librarian who played an influential role in the literary development of young Jack London and who was part of the Oakland Bohemia. 2-4 p.m. at the House of Happy Walls Museum. $15 fee includes parking. Visit the website in July for more details.
Find more details at www.jacklondonpark.com
Here is a great itinerary for Jack London Fans: Jack London Trail Through Northern California