Tolay Creek

Last updated
Tolay Creek
Country United States
State California
Region Sonoma County
Physical characteristics
Source Sonoma Mountains
  location2 mi (3 km) north of Lakeville, California
  coordinates 38°13′52″N122°31′51″W / 38.23111°N 122.53083°W / 38.23111; -122.53083 [1]
  elevation225 ft (69 m)
Mouth San Pablo Bay
7 mi (11 km) east of Novato, California
38°7′16″N122°27′7″W / 38.12111°N 122.45194°W / 38.12111; -122.45194 Coordinates: 38°7′16″N122°27′7″W / 38.12111°N 122.45194°W / 38.12111; -122.45194 [1]
7 ft (2.1 m) [1]

Tolay Creek is a 12.5-mile-long (20.1 km) [2] southward-flowing stream in southern Sonoma County, California, United States, which flows through Tolay Lake and ends in north San Pablo Bay.



The Alaguali were a Coast Miwok community of northern San Pablo Bay in the Tolay Creek region. Alaguali lands bordered the north edge of San Pablo Bay and the southern one third of their area was low tidal marshland at the mouth of Sonoma Creek and Napa Slough. Their strong marriage ties to the Petalumas suggest that the Alagualis held all of the valley of Tolay Creek to the north of Sears Point up to the Sonoma Valley airport, consisting of about 56 square miles. In 1814 the Spanish authorities began to split up the Alaguali amongst different missions, baptizing 91 at Mission Dolores and 37 at Mission San José. [3]

Padre José Altimira, the founder of Mission San Francisco Solano, wrote in his diary on June 27, 1823, "Tolay Lake so called for the Chief of the Indians". Tolay Creek was named for the lake. [4]


The Tolay Creek watershed lies between those of Sonoma Creek and the Petaluma River. It originates near Stage Gulch Road (part of State Route 116) about 2 mi (3 km) north of Lakeville, California. It feeds Tolay Lake, then descends to flow under State Route 121 north of the Infineon Raceway. It parallels State Route 121 southward to State Route 37 at Sears Point, California, feeds into the Napa Sonoma Marsh, and enters San Pablo Bay west of Tubbs Island in the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

South of State Route 37, Tolay Creek marks part of the western boundary of the Sonoma Valley AVA, a federally designated wine appellation. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

Sonoma County, California County in California, United States

Sonoma County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 483,878. Its county seat and largest city is Santa Rosa. It is to the north of Marin County and the south of Mendocino County. It is west of Napa County and Lake County.

Wine Country Area of Northern California known as a wine-growing region

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Coast Miwok Tribe of Native American people

Coast Miwok are an indigenous people that was the second-largest group of Miwok people. Coast Miwok inhabited the general area of modern Marin County and southern Sonoma County in Northern California, from the Golden Gate north to Duncans Point and eastward to Sonoma Creek. Coast Miwok included the Bodega Bay Miwok, from authenticated Miwok villages around Bodega Bay, and the Marin Miwok.

Sears Point

Sears Point is a prominent landform that juts into the San Pablo Bay in Sonoma County, California, United States. This hill is the southernmost peak of the Sonoma Mountains and forms the southwestern ridge above Tolay Lake. Starting with European settlement of this area in the mid-19th century considerable modification of the Napa Sonoma Marsh began to occur, such that in contemporary times, there is considerable upland between Sears Point and San Pablo Bay. Numerous local conservation organizations are presently working to restore hundreds of acres of these historic tidal wetlands as part of the Sears Point Wetlands and Watershed Restoration Project. The region can be accessed via State Route 37 or State Route 121.

State Route 37 is a state highway in the U.S. state of California that runs 21 miles (34 km) along the northern shore of San Pablo Bay. It is built from U.S. Route 101 in Novato and runs through northeastern Marin County, the southern tip of Sonoma and Solano Counties to Interstate 80 in Vallejo. It serves as a vital connection between the four counties of the North Bay Area, north of San Francisco; Sonoma Raceway and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom are accessible from Route 37. The road is commonly called Highway 37 by local residents.

Sonoma Valley

Sonoma Valley is a valley located in southeastern Sonoma County, California, in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Known as the birthplace of the California wine industry, the valley is home to some of the earliest vineyards and wineries in the state, some of which survived the phylloxera epidemic of the 1870s and the impact of prohibition in the early 20th century. Today, the valley's wines are protected by the U.S. Federal Government's Sonoma Valley and Carneros AVAs.

North Bay (San Francisco Bay Area) Subregion of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, United States

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California State Route 121 Highway in California

State Route 121 is a state highway in the U.S. state of California. It runs through the Wine Country region of Sonoma and Napa counties. Its southern terminus is at State Route 37 at Sears Point, and its northern terminus is at State Route 128 near Lake Berryessa. SR 121 passes through the Carneros region of the southern Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley.

Petaluma River

The Petaluma River is a river in the California counties of Sonoma and Marin that becomes a tidal slough for the majority of its length. The headwaters are in the area southwest of Cotati. The flow is generally southward through Petaluma's old town, where the waterway becomes navigable, and then flows another 10 mi (16 km) through tidal marshes before emptying into the northwest corner of San Pablo Bay.

Sonoma Creek Stream in California

Sonoma Creek is a 33.4-mile-long (53.8 km) stream in northern California. It is one of two principal drainages of southern Sonoma County, California, with headwaters rising in the rugged hills of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and discharging to San Pablo Bay, the northern arm of San Francisco Bay. The watershed drained by Sonoma Creek is roughly equivalent to the wine region of Sonoma Valley, an area of about 170 square miles (440 km2). The State of California has designated the Sonoma Creek watershed as a “Critical Coastal Water Resource”. To the east of this generally rectangular watershed is the Napa River watershed, and to the west are the Petaluma River and Tolay Creek watersheds.

Sonoma Mountains

The Sonoma Mountains are a northwest-southeast trending mountain range of the Inner Coast Ranges in the California Coast Ranges System, located in Sonoma County, Northern California.

Arroyo Seco Creek

Arroyo Seco Creek, or simply Arroyo Seco, is a 6.9-mile-long (11.1 km) tributary stream to Schell Creek in southern Sonoma County, California, United States. In Spanish arroyo seco means "dry creek".

Napa Sonoma Marsh

The Napa Sonoma Marsh is a wetland at the northern edge of San Pablo Bay, which is a northern arm of the San Francisco Bay in California, United States. This marsh has an area of 48,000 acres (194 km2), of which 13,000 acres (53 km2) are abandoned salt evaporation ponds. The United States Government has designated 13,000 acres (53 km2) in the Napa Sonoma Marsh as the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Tolay Lake

Tolay Lake is a shallow freshwater lake in southern Sonoma County, California, United States. The lake, nestled within the southern vestiges of the Sonoma Mountains, is the site of significant Native American prehistoric seasonal settlement. In 2005, Sonoma County acquired the entirety of the lake and virtually its whole drainage basin from the Cardoza family for the sum of $18 million; the County's intention is to utilize the property as Tolay Lake Regional Park for ecological and archaeological preservation, as well as public use and enjoyment. Tolay Lake and its immediate drainage area is home to several nesting pairs of golden eagles, Aquila chrysaetos, and a number of rare, threatened or endangered species including the California red-legged frog, Rana draytonii; Western pond turtle, Actinemys marmorata; and Western burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia.

Mark West Creek

Mark West Creek is a 29.9-mile-long (48.1 km) stream that rises in the Mayacamas Mountains of Sonoma County, California, United States. Tributaries of Mark West Creek include Porter Creek and Hummingbird Creek, both of which originate in the same mountain range. Discharge waters of Mark West Creek reach the Russian River after a confluence with the Laguna de Santa Rosa. The Community Clean Water Institute has developed a program for monitoring pollutants in Mark West Creek.

Hydrography of the San Francisco Bay Area

The Hydrography of the San Francisco Bay Area is a complex network of watersheds, marshes, rivers, creeks, reservoirs, and bays predominantly draining into the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean.

Nicasio Creek

Nicasio Creek is an 11.9-mile-long (19.2 km) stream in Marin County, California, United States and is the primary tributary of Lagunitas Creek, which flows, in turn, into Tomales Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. The Nicasio Reservoir, formed in 1961 by Seeger Dam, is located on this stream.

Sonoma County wine

Sonoma County wine is wine made in Sonoma County, California, in the United States.

Lakeville, California unincorporated community in California, United States

Lakeville is an unincorporated community in Sonoma County, California, United States. It is located near the Petaluma River about 4 mi (6 km) southeast of Petaluma.

Novato Creek

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  1. 1 2 3 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Tolay Creek
  2. U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 10, 2011
  3. Randall Milliken (June 2009). Ethnohistory and Ethnogeography of the Coast Miwok and their Neighbors, 1783–1840 (PDF) (Report). National Park Service, Golden Gate NRA. p. 69. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
  4. Erwin Gustav Gudde (1974). California Place Names. University of California Press. p. C-340. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
  5. "Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: Sonoma Valley AVA" . Retrieved 2007-12-31.