According to Pomo Indian legend, a beautiful maiden who lived on Mount Konocti created Soda Bay at its foot with tears she shed over the deaths of her feuding father and lover. Today, Soda Bay still bubbles with volcanic gases at the foot of Mt. Konocti, which rises to 4,300 feet in elevation. The Clear Lake Volcanic Field consists of some seven once-active volcanic vents.
The name “Konocti” has mysterious origins. Though European settlers attempted to change Mt. Konocti’s name to “Uncle Sam Mountain” in 1854, the original name has endured. Several Indian tribes inhabited the area more than 11,000 years ago, and though they were all of the Pomo Nation, they spoke several languages native to their own tribes. Konocti means “big rock” in one Pomo language; another tribe credits Chief Konocti with creating the mountain. The most favored translation is “Mountain Woman,” from the Pomo word, “Knoktai,” of which “Kno” means “mountain” and “Hatai” means “woman” in one tribe’s language. An essential part of Pomo spirituality, Mt. Konocti is still sacred to Native Americans.
Mt. Konocti’s surface varies with elevation and exposure. The south slope of the mountain is covered with 12 square miles of black obsidian. At the bottom of the north face, a Douglas fir forest is dense and cool. The first homesteader’s cabin on the mountain, built by Mary Downen in 1903, still stands. Orchards and vineyards thrive in the volcanic soil in a multitude of microclimates, and oaks date back more than 500 years.
At night, a beacon atop the dark mountain announces its presence, and in daylight, it is possible to view Mt. Konocti’s very own weather system create wispy clouds, high winds, or winter snow flurries. Changes in barometric pressure cause gusts of air to move into and out of the mountain’s vents. Though some locals believe huge catacombs exist within, only small caves have been found. The Pomos have handed down stories of throwing carved sticks into Mt. Konocti’s crater and later finding them floating in the lake.
A family-owned property near the top, continues to farm the walnut orchard and surrounding groves. Visitors can enjoy the ancient maul oak tree grove alongside a wide variety of flora and fauna. Nearby, Clear Lake State Park offers lakeside camping, trails, a Visitor Center, and marina at the foot of the mountain, a few classic resorts and dining establishments are just down the road in Soda Bay, and for golfers, Buckingham Golf & Country Club offers spectacular views of the lake and the mountain’s Black Forest.
Lake County is purchasing this land so that it is never developed and forever available to the public for hiking and birdwatching. For more information, visit http://www.preservekonocti.com
The view from the top is a 360 degree view of Lake and surrounding counties. Guided tours are available which takes hikers through the maul oak grove, to the old cabin, to the orchards, and up to the summit. Tours take 3.5 hours and are available Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 2:00 pm, or by appointment. Cost of guided hike/lunch packages: $20-50 per person. http://www.topofkonocti.com
Fees: Guided tours: $20-50 per person
For More Information, Contact:
Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa
8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville, CA 95451
707-279-9205 · toll-free 1-800-660-LAKE · fax 707-279-9205