Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon

Jan. 6, 2011


The name “Valley of the Moon” was first recorded in a report that General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo sent to the California Legislature in 1850. According to Jack London, the word Sonoma meant “valley of the moon” or “many moons” in the Miwok and Pomo native languages.

The Native American legends say that the moon seemingly rose from this valley, or was “nestled” in the valley, or may have even sprung up multiple times in one night. Regardless of origin, it’s a charming reference to a beautiful place steeped in history.

The bucolic community of Kenwood sits at the north end of Valley of the Moon, framed by mountains and vineyard vistas. Take a leisurely drive or bicycle ride along the picturesque Sonoma Highway. You’ll pass wineries, farms and estates, and can stop at some of the interesting shops, tasting rooms and restaurants that dot the area. The scenery is beautiful at any time of year.

On the east side of the valley are Hood Mountain Regional Park and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Hood Mountain is traversed by hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Bald Mountain on Sugarloaf Ridge offers incredible views that, on a clear day, can range as far away as San Francisco and even the Sierra Nevada. The state park is also home to Ferguson Observatory, which is completely dedicated to public viewing and education.

Just outside Glen Ellen, Jack London State Park is a memorial to the author and adventurer who made his home here on a property he called Beauty Ranch, from 1905 until his death in 1916. There is a museum here with personal effects, writings, and collections of art and mementos from his far-flung travels.

You can also see his cottage and hike to a dam, lake, and bathhouse built by London. Other hikes lead up through fir and oak woodlands to views of the Valley of the Moon or to London’s grave and to Wolf House, his dream house that was destroyed by fire in 1913. A little farther south is Glen Ellen, the home of Jack London Village. It’s a quaint collection of shops, restaurants and offices in a peaceful setting, not far from where author and adventurer Jack London made his home. Take a pause here to enjoy the shade of the tall oaks and the gentle burbling of the creek that passes through the old water wheel of the historic mill.

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