The Explorographer
Tomales Bay State Park

Tomales Bay State Park ~ Point Reyes California

During a recent trip to the San Francisco area, I was tasked with setting up a short hike and landscape photo shoot with some friends.  I love planning things like this but usually it’s based around a location or site I have been to before or know a lot about.  We’d be staying at a cool place called Tomales Bay which is north of San Francisco and located in the Point Reyes area.  Unfortunately, time here was limited sadly. I must say, out of all the places we visited on this trip, this was in my top 3.  And if it weren’t for Yosemite being in the mix, it would probably be my .  With accommodations for the night set at the wonderful Tomales Bay Resort, my next job was to find some place interesting to explore the next morning and Tomales Bay State Park looked to be it.

To do research for the hike I would fall back on my old pal Google maps for help.  Generally, I will scour google maps with the Earth function turned on and look for cool or unusual photos to appear on the bottom of the screen as I search.  This works most of the times, but sometimes it can just lead you down the rabbit hole if photos are not location tagged correctly.  My search found all sorts of amazing sites in Point Reyes. Lighthouses, old boats, beautiful fields and shores.  All with one big problem…we had very limited amount of time.  One photo popped out and grabbed me though. It was an amazing photo of all these twisty trees covered in rich green moss, like some crazy scene from a Tolkien novel.  After further searching, I found this place to be a small trail at Tomales Bay State Park.

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Only one problem…aside from a small state parks website, this one photo was all I could find.  So, my choice were; do we go see a few things in Point Reyes and call it a day, or do we try for magic at this unknown place?  Well, if you know me, then you know the answer!  The scene was set to explore this trail at Tomales Bay State Park and we would be leaving at 5am with the goal to catch the rising sun rays cutting through the fog among the twisty trees (hopefully there were more than in the photo)!   An early start was needed not only for the atmosphere. I am told that once the parking lot at Heart’s Desire Beach fills up, they do not let anyone else in… getting there early meant that we would get a spot and hopefully a peaceful walk through this forest.  Low and behold, that is exactly what we got!

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Not only are the visuals and mood here simply magical, the trees are one of the finest remaining virgin groves of Bishop pine in California.  To see them, go just before dawn, park at Hearts Desire Beach parking lot, Find signs for the Indian Nature Trail on the north side of the lot…just to the right of the bathrooms.  It’s a short hike up a medium hill in, but what awaits you is in no other words truly magical!  We only got to explore one trail here and part of another..the park offers much more by way of the much longer Jepson and Johnstone trails.  Next visit, those are definitely on the list!  If they offer half of what was found on the Indian trail you will be blown away.

To see my entire gallery from this awesome place visit THIS LINK.

If you want to go and/or find out more about the amazing history here, I suggest that you check out the park website (no dogs allowed) and please respect the land and all park rules, oh and don’t forget your camera to capture and bring home some of the magic!  To get more stories and photos like this delivered right to your email, please subscribe to my blog on the sidebar, as well as  like and share with your friends!


Explore. Photograph. Write. Repeat.

A multi-award winning travel photographer and mentor. Most known for his "abandonscape" images. Creator and curator of and

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