Eel River

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Rating: C

Are you eager for excitement? Do you yearn for a little off-road adventure? Picture a trip in which, at every turn of the river, there's another nude swimming hole to try. There are at least seven sans-suit swim spots just waiting to be explored along the enchanting Eel River. Among the ones used mainly by local residents is this one, near the town of Pillsbury, on the south fork of the river.

Part of Mendocino National Forest.

How to find it:

From San Francisco, head north on Highway 101, passing Santa Rosa and Ukiah, to Route 20. Take Route 20 east about five miles to the Potter Valley cutoff on your left and follow it northeast past the town of Potter Valley, north of Upper Lake. Follow the signs to Lake Pillsbury. After you climb a ridge and begin to go back down, follow the left fork in the road. Access to the south fork of the Eel is from this road, some 10 miles south of Van Arsdale Reservoir and Cape Horn Dam. The reservoir and dam are south of Pillsbury. Consult a good map.

The beach:

Small but comfortable, a good spot to soak up a few rays next to a deep swimming hole.

The crowd:

Just a few bathers in the buff, plus suited swimmers too.

Problems:

Increased trash; directions could be improved.

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