Bay Area Hikes: The Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site

Eugene O'Neill House
Eugene O'Neill House

Bay Area Hikes: The Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site

Visit the Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site in Northern California. Eugene O’Neill was America’s only Nobel Prize winning playwright. He lived on a beautiful property in the Danville, California hills from 1937 to 1944. O’Neill and his wife Carlotta used the Nobel Prize money to design and build their home, the Tao House,  in the Chinese Taoist style. While living there, O’Neill wrote his most revered plays; The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and A Moon For The Misbegotten.

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Eugene O'Neill House
Eugene O'Neill House
Eugene O'Neill House

The O’Neills later relocated to Boston when he became too ill to live isolated in Danville. He died in Boston in 1953. In 1980 their home, and the 13 acres surrounding, became a National Historic Site.  The O’Neill cottage is part of the National Park Service in the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness and is great for hiking, mountain biking, views, and bird watching. Bring your dog, walk with the local cows, and enjoy this historic site.

Know before you go

When to Go

The Bay Area and its micro climates are, at best, unpredictable. The Danville and Alamo area can get pretty hot at times, so wear your sunscreen!

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I recommend the winter and spring months for this top Bay Area California hike if you want to avoid the heat. 

Hiking

Hiking Info

The hike to the Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site can be a 3.5 mile loop hike. It’s not very strenuous and can be shortened if you prefer to make it an out and back hike.

Parking Symbol

Parking

Park at the end of Camille Avenue in Danville. Don’t worry too much about finding parking spots on the street. It’s usually pretty easy to find space.

Tips

There is not a toilet facility on the trails.

Always carry water when hiking.

Wear hiking boots or sneakers with some tread. Be prepared for some mud.

Wear layers.

Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Please be respectful and follow all the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace!©  Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, Be Considerate of Other Visitors.

Top Bay Area Hike: The Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site:

There are options for a loop, or out and back hike, to the O’Neill homestead. The trail markers aren’t great, but if you get a little lost, it is easy enough to find your way.

  • Park your car at the end of Camille Avenue in Alamo.
  • Take the trail entrance on your left.
  • Continue through the eucalyptus grove.
  • Start on an incline and follow markers to the Madrone Trail.
  • Hike through a large cattle gate that opens up to a pasture and a pond.
  • Hike up the hill on the right to the house and surrounding property.
  • On the return, you can go back the way you came, or hike down on the other side of the pond and loop back down to Camille Avenue.
Eugene O'Neill House
Eugene O'Neill House
Eugene O'Neill House
Eugene O'Neill House
Eugene O'Neill House

To Do

You can tour the home by taking the complimentary National Park Service Shuttle from the Museum of the San Ramon Valley at 205 Railroad Avenue, Danville, California 94526 ((925) 228-8860 x6422). You need advanced reservations for the 2 hour tours held between 10Am – 2PM Wednesdays thru Sundays.

The rehabilitated barn is now a theater where O’Neill plays are performed several times during the year.

And don’t miss the grave of Blemie, O’Neill’s beloved Dalmatian.

Fun Facts

The Tao House is guarded by a black “Guardian Gate” to block negative energy from entering the home.

O’Neill called his Danville property “The Old Ranch” and he took care of the chickens.

In 1940 the O’Neill’s dog of 13 years died and was buried on the ranch. O’Neill wrote a “Last Will And Testament” posted at the gravesite.

Blemie's Grave
Eugene O'Neill House
Eugene O'Neill House
Eugene O'Neill House
Eugene O'Neill House

Have great hike and let me know how you like it!

xx, 

Carrie