Agate Beach

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Rating: C

Are you ready to rock? The south end of Agate Beach, at Patrick's Point State Park, north of Trinidad, has been attracting small numbers of suitless sunbathers and clad and unclad rock hounds for years to its shore. Due to intermittent fog on the coastline, spring and fall are the best times to become a "nude rocker" by hunting for beach agates with nary a stitch of clothing on to interfere with your tanning. The hills behind the beach are usually covered in purple lupine flowers in the spring. But summer's also a great time to visit the beach to escape the inland heat and, in late afternoon before the fog returns, to do some sunbathing. Other fun activities include tide pooling, camping (the site's campground has 124 sites, showers, and a picnic table, plus a cabin that sleeps four), and hiking. The best bet for a walk is to take the Rim Trail to viewpoints of harbor seals, sea lions, and gray whales.

Part of Patrick's Point State Park.

How to find it:

Take Highway 101 north for about 25 miles, north of Eureka and five miles north of the Trinidad exit to Patrick's Point State Park, which is 56 miles south of Crescent City. From Agate Campground, look for the Agate Beach trailhead and take the short, steep path to the beach, passing spots that offer nice vistas of Agate Beach and Humboldt Lagoons State Park far below.

The beach:

What's the main activity at this nine-mile long, clothing optional beach? Looking for agates, of course! Wave-polished black jade and beach agates can be found in the sand and tidal zone at the water's edge. Winter storms also usually dump loads of driftwood on the shore.

The crowd:

On warm weekdays "you might find three or four people going nude here," says Alex. Except for the south end of the beach, Agate mainly gets clothed use. On weekends, nudism usually disappears.

Problems:

Day use and overnight camping fees; wind and fog during the summer; nude use occurs only on weekdays; agates easiest to find in winter; fierce riptides and cold, hazardous water limits swimming.

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