California Highway 1
runs all along the east shore of Tomales Bay, though despite its primary designation the road is narrow, winding and little traveled, curving around many small, steep ravines and through isolated, dense groves of oak trees. Most of the land nearby is hilly and grassy, used for cattle ranching, unlike the slopes on the moister west side of the bay (Inverness Ridge
), that are covered by thick forest. The state park occupies two peninsulas, west of the road, and the main site is Millerton Point
which has a beach, picnic area and carpark, plus several trails leading along the water's edge and to the top of a small ridge that is just high enough for good views up and down the bay, to the buildings of Inverness opposite, and over a large area of oyster beds, the posts from which form symmetrical patterns in the smooth water. Half an hour is enough to walk the loop path and get a good appreciation of the scenery.
Map of Tomales Bay State Park
The most visited and developed section of Tomales Bay State Park is on the west wide of the inlet, one mile across from the eastern portion but 13 miles by road, via Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
, the main route into Point Reyes NRA. The highway turns inland just north of the residential village of Inverness and forks after a mile; the park is reached by turning right here (Pierce Point Road) then right again soon after, a road that descends through the forest and ends at Hearts Desire Beach
, where facilities comprise picnic areas, rest rooms, drinking water and parking. Three other sandy beaches in the park are reachable on foot - Indian to the north, Pebble and Shell to the south. Indian Beach has the added attraction of two replica dwellings of the Coast Miwok tribe, the original inhabitants of this area. The path through the Bishop pine woodland (the Jepson Trail
) starts at the parking area and loops through the trees for one mile, intersecting with several other routes further into the forest.
Nearby towns with hotels include Novato
(23 miles), Petaluma
(22 miles) and Rohnert Park