Wild blackberries lining the trails that wind through eucalyptus to vineyards to redwoods to oak woodlands and grassy meadows with gorgeous views all while trying to escape the wrath of mosquitos is a perfect way to enjoy Jack London State Historic Park! This park is one of our favorites here in Sonoma County because of the diversity and so many amazing trails! Our 9.5 mile hike with 1600 ft elevation gain to Sonoma Ridge Trail is a great loop to experience some of the hidden gems Jack London SHP has to offer!
Jack London’s Ancient Redwood
All of the longer hikes at Jack London SHP start from the historic farm buildings and around the vineyards. Walk through the grove of eucalyptus and follow the trail around as it skirts the vineyards and heads toward Sonoma Mountain. After passing the grain silos on your right you start the gentle climb in the shade of redwoods and firs. It’s like a nice and cool welcome hug. If you are going during mosquito season, this is where we would recommend spraying yourself down. Once you reach London Lake take the Vineyard Trail. Caution here, you will be walking fast while flailing your arms around to avoid the attack of the killer mosquitos! Do not fall down!
Vineyard trail is narrow and skirts the upper half of the vineyards. It is fully shaded and is a beautiful trail if you are immune to mosquitos. When you reach a couple of picnic tables look for an offshoot trail that will lead you to the Ancient Redwood. She’s an old one (2,000 years old) and the oldest redwood on the property.
The trail to the Ancient Redwood is narrow with dense underbrush but well maintained. It is a majestic experience to see this beautiful redwood. You are so focused on the trail and avoiding the mosquitos then you look up and there she is in all her glory. Deep wrinkles in her bark, arms reaching out seemingly to carry the world, and crazy branches reaching up to the sky. Wise old tree. Enjoy a moment with her. Then run back to the Vineyard Trail and hang a left toward the old orchard.
Coon Trap Trail
After such an amazing experience with the ancient redwood, it is hard to think this hike can get any better. It does! We reached Plum Tree Trail and followed it a short distance to Camp Via Trail. This is where the forest opens up to show off an old 80-acre orchard with some rare varieties. Some of the fruit trees had fruit on them! Head toward the camp buildings and to your right, you will see an opening in the trees where Coon Trap Trail starts. Cross of the bridge and get ready to do some climbing!
Coon Trap Trail is half shade and half sun. It seemed like the steep parts were in full sun every time and the easier parts were in the shade. It could have just been the fact that it was hot the day we went with little cloud cover. As you climb you begin to leave the cozy redwoods and firs behind and the forest changes to oak woodlands with some madrones and manzanitas scattered in. The trail is wide and well maintained like all of the trails in this park.
Just keep going! You will think you have reached the top…but then there’s another switchback on the trail and you take a deep breath and keep going. We were so excited to see the trail sign for the East Slope Trail and the Sonoma Ridge Loop. We paused…our goal was to hike out to the end of the East Slope Trail like we did a few years ago when it first opened but we were hot and feeling the beginnings of heat exhaustion. So we opted to take the Sonoma Ridge Loop and enjoy the views and breeze instead.
Sonoma Ridge Trail
It felt so good to cool off on the Sonoma Ridge Loop and know that we were going to be heading downhill from here! The grassy meadows with oaks popping out, blue skies and butterflies were a wonderful reward to all the climbing we did on Coon Trap Trail! Careful not to get too distracted by the butterflies…the bosslady did and stepped wrong on a rock on the trail and had some pain as she headed back down the rest of the 4 miles back to the car. She tends to get distracted by beautiful flying creatures a lot!
There weren’t too many other hikers out on the trails that day. We did run into a few mountain bikers. Careful to avoid the poison oak along the trails when you have to get out of their way! The trail goes from narrow switchbacks near the top to wider gentle descent as you reach the redwoods and firs again. We had a young buck following us. He didn’t seem to mind we were there but he stayed behind us and rustled around for food. Whenever we stopped to watch him, he also stopped and stared at us. Kind of like a fun little deer game. 🙂
When we turned on to Mountain Trail we knew we were in the home stretch! The trail is wide like a fire road and completely shaded and not too steep. We started seeing more people once we reached this trail which was nice. This is also about the time the hubs ran out of water. Our water bladders hold 1.5 liters and are usually enough for our hikes but this time they weren’t. Note to self, take extra water on this hike. The last time we did it we also ran out of water. In our defense, we took less last time and hiked 3 miles longer. 😉
On Mountain Trail, there is a spot where the wild blackberries were ripe! I don’t think we are supposed to forage and eat them all but they were irresistible and we ate a few! There were plenty that in the back that only the birds can reach and eat so we didn’t feel too terrible.
Once we reached London Lake again we started talking about lunch and where we were going to go eat in Glen Ellen after. This perked up our tired feet and we made it safely without any other butterfly or mosquito incidents!
Have you been to the beautiful historic park? What is your favorite part?
Parking is $10 or an annual pass for $49 that gets you into Sugarloaf SP as well, portable potties in the parking lot and pit toilets near London Lake, this hike was probably 75% shade, moderate to strenuous, 9.5 miles with 1,600 ft elevation gain/loss. Download a map of the trails before you go!
Delicious food options in the town of Glen Ellen. We ended up at the Glen Ellen Market.
Things We Love
We have linked to KT tape before but this is what really saves the bosslady on long hikes…especially when she gets distracted by beautiful butterflies and steps wrong. It always comes in handy, she always has some with her, and it is super easy to use. It has been a game-changer for being able to continue hiking with an injury. The hubs would not have lasted helping her down the mountain and we definitely would have used up our water sooner if that had to happen!
Map My Walk Stats (no laughing at our turtle pace!)
P.S. my app didn’t update to the online version so I don’t have the full stats here.
Where else can you find us?
Don’t forget to check out the video of the hike on our Hike Then Wine YouTube Channel!