Tomales Bay State Park

California, United States
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Situated on the eastern edge of Point Reyes Peninsula, the blue waters and sheltered coves of Tomales Bay State Park are a popular destination for a day of picnicking, hiking or water-oriented activities. The beaches and east-facing slopes of this 2,000-acre park are especially attractive because they are protected from the prevailing winds by the high backbone of the Point Reyes Peninsula.

The day-use park features four gently sloping, surf-free beaches, protected from winds by Inverness Ridge, the backbone of the Point Reyes Peninsula. The park has hiking trails and is a popular place for picnicking, swimming, clamming and boating. Dogs are not permitted on the beaches or trails.

The park includes forests, beaches, field, hills, meadows and marshes - each with its own plant life, including varieties of trees, shrubs and wildflowers.

One of the finest remaining virgin groves of Bishop pine in California is in the park's Jepson Memorial Grove, reached by way of a one mile long trail.
Park News Alert
Starting October 4, 2011 service reductions are in place for this park.
Starting October 4, 2011, Hearts Desire, Shell Beach, and Millerton Point parking and day use areas will be closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays of each week.

Tomales Bay State Park will be kept open through an agreement signed by the National Park Service (NPS) and California State Parks. The park includes lands within the boundaries of Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The schedule of operation for Tomales Bay will be determined in the next several months.

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Getting There
The park is located 40 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, close to Inverness, Point Reyes Station and the Point Reyes National Seashore.

The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park.
Climate/Recommended Clothing
The weather varies greatly. Be prepared for cool, damp and windy weather. Dressing in layers is recommended.
Operating Hours & Contact
8am to Sunset
Telephone: 415-669-1140
Activities
Water Activities: Four gently sloping, surf-free beaches on the shore of Tomales Bay offer many opportunities for picnicking, swimming, hiking, clamming, kayaking, and boating. Heart’s Desire Beach has a picnic area with barbecues, dressing rooms and flush toilets. Less-developed Pebble, Shell and Indian Beaches can be accessed by way of easy trails. The shoreline has shallow areas suitable for wading and water play with well-marked swimming areas. Lifeguard services are not available. There are no boat-launching facilities, but hand-carried boats may be put in the water. Heart’s Desire Beach is used as a launch location by individuals and local companies offering organized kayaking excursions. Boaters are welcome to land at park beaches away from swim areas.

Hiking: Hiking trails connect the park’s four beaches and wind through the Jepson Memorial Grove.

Interpretive Features: Indian Beach has two reconstructed Miwok bark shelters called “kotchas” that stand upright, forming tall cones. A self-guided nature trail connects Indian Beach to Heart’s Desire Beach, about one half-mile south.
Natural History
Nature, time and the San Andreas Fault - running directly beneath the 12-mile length of Tomales Bay – have had enormous impact on the land. The fault, a great rift in the earth’s crust, separates Point Reyes Peninsula from the rest of the continent. Its granite bedrock is unlike any nearby formations. The nearest granite on the east face of the fault matching that of Point Reyes Peninsula is in the Tehachapi Mountains, more than 300 miles southeast.

Incredibly, movement of two inches per year over ten million years is sufficient to have caused the granite to travel that distance. In the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the greatest measured displacement along the entire fault was at Tomales Bay, where the area west of the fault moved more than 20 feet northward.
Plant Communities
Trails take hikers through a lush wilderness of forests, beaches, fields, hills, meadows and marshes - each with its own plant life. Among the most prominent trees are bishop pines, madrones, California laurels, oaks, red and white alders, willows and buckeye. One of the finest remaining virgin stands of bishop pine is preserved in the Jepson Memorial Grove. Bishop pines belong to a group of “closed-cone” pines - a species that has survived by adapting to the hard realities of wildfire. Closed-cone pine seeds are dispersed only when the trees are burned or the tightly sealed, prickly cones are opened by extreme heat. Ferns line the beaches and grace the wooded areas. Wildflowers brighten the countryside with splashes of vivid color during the spring.
Wildlife
Wildlife thrives here. Foxes, raccoons, badgers, weasels, bobcats, skunks, wood rats, moles and other animals inhabit the area. Numerous species of land and sea birds, including the rare spotted owl, attract ornithologists and birdwatchers. Several varieties of clams, jellyfish, crabs and other small sea animals live on or near the beaches, and the bay is home to sharks, rays and many other kinds of fish.
Cultural History
For more than 5,000 years, the Coast Miwok have lived in what is now Marin and Sonoma counties. The native people used the area's abundant resources - hunting game, catching salmon and shellfish, and managing plants and grasses to assure plentiful harvests.

In 1579 Sir Francis Drake laid claim to the entire area for England, naming it Nova Albion (New England). Nearly 25 years later, Spanish explorer Don Sebastian Vizcaíno named the area now called Point Reyes "La Punta de Los Tres Reyes," after the day of the Feast of the Three Kings. "Tomales" is thought to be a Spanish inflection of the Coast Miwok word for "bay."

Most of the Tomales Bay area lay untouched until the late 1940s, when developers discovered its beauty and began to purchase beachfront land. Local residents, fearing that the beaches would be closed to public use, formed a committee to help secure the land for park purposes. The Marin Conservation League, various conservation and civic organizations, and the State purchased portions of the area. On November 8, 1952, Tomales Bay State Park was dedicated and opened to the public.
Accessible Features
Heart’s Desire Beach has one accessibly designed table. The grill is on a grassy surface. Restroom: Toilets are generally accessible. Routes of travel from parking to picnic table and restroom are generally accessible.
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