Gary Hanauer

Eel River

Rating: C

Along the electrifyingly beautiful Eel River, there are at least seven holes used for clothing-optional swimming including this one, which is mainly visited by local residents. It's located on the south fork of the river, near the town of Pillsbury.

 

Legal status:

Part of Mendocino National Forest.

 

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Elsewhere on Big River

To try four other clothing-optional riverbanks on Big River, walk downstream to a series of fun swimming holes.  Some of the spots are "maybe waist deep," says regular visitor Brian.  But with increased winter rains, he reports that "at a few spots, you can even jump into the water." However, due to the rocks in the river, total nudity isn't recommended.  Suggests Bill Johnson, of San Francisco:  "Bring some old shoes you can wear for wading." We call these beaches Two Bends, Three Bends, Five Bends, and Six Bends.

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Boyles Swimming Hole

Rating: C

Also as Dead Man's Hole, Boyles mostly draws suited swimmers to a site that's further up Big River from Lilies Beach and just east of Mendocino Woodlands State Park. But a few skinny-dippers also hike or bike to Boyles, which even has a great rope swing. Take the trail that begins at Lilies. The crowd here is a little noisier and more social than the more laid-back types found at Lilies.Read more »

Gualala River

Rating: C

Are you planning to travel on Highway 1 north of Sea Ranch? If it's not too windy or foggy, then a stop at this little beach, which is used by nudes and prudes alike, may provide the perfect respite. Want to stay longer?  There's a campground nearby. Tip: bring a jacket and windbreak with you in case weather conditions change.

 

Legal status:

Unknown.


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Upper Russian River

Rating: C

If you're frustrated by Sonoma County's harsh anti-nudity laws, then take heart: a quiet, clothing-optional riverbank that's just three miles over the county line in Mendocino County, not far from Cloverdale. Seldom visited and protected from the wind by a canyon, this site off Comminsky Station Road also can't be seen by passing drivers. Says a July 2010 visitor: "it has friendly people, spectacular scenery, and relatively easy access."

 

Legal status:

Unknown.

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Las Trampas

Rating: C

Want to go walking around nude at night outside without being hauled off to jail?  Imagine hiking naked guided only by your flashlight in the East Bay Hills, with the trail silhouetted by a full moon and small herds of horses coming up to greet you.

"It's absolutely surreal," says Jurek Zarzycki.  "The horses come within inches of you, so close you can feel their breath.  It's like being on a moonscape with aliens.  You may be a little afraid at first, but the horses are very friendly."Read more »

Hidden Pond

Rating: C

Suitable for use on warm spring and fall days, remote, nearly secret Hidden Pond, nestled undisturbed in an East Bay park, is usually too shallow to enjoy in the summer. Getting to the sun-splashed skinny-dipping hole is half the fun.  "The trail was extremely scenic," says Fremont's Jerek Zarzycki, of his late spring visit.  "There were wildflowers everywhere and the meadows we crossed looked like they were covered with lush green by a paint brush."Read more »