Hidden Beach (Tahoe)

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Rating: B

In a repeat of last summer, lower water levels are creating more sand than usual on Lake Tahoe's nude beaches, which, just two years ago, were strewn with exposed rocks.

"In June, the lake was down two feet from the natural rim and is probably even lower now," says North Swanson, leader of the Tahoe Area Naturists (TAN). "We've got a lot of beach sand. It's such a great year that I'm trying to go there at least once a week all summer."

Hidden's parking lot, which serves most of the clothing-optional beaches, holds just 30 cars and allows only 20 minute parking. "The parking is tight but only on very busy days," says Swanson. What's the good news? "A half mile south of the lot, you can find parking on the lake side of Highway 28," suggests visitor Steve Williams. There should be enough room along the road for a whopping 125 cars. Another option: walk one quarter mile north of the first lot to another 30-car lot, which mainly serves Chimney Beach (see below entry).

To help prevent scratchy needles and pine tar in your sandals or flip-flops (called "needle stab" by locals), wear closed-toe shoes on the beach paths in Tahoe, including those that lead to Hidden Beach, which, by the way, is near Sand Harbor, half a mile south of Incline Village.

Nevada Division Of Parks property.

How to find it:

From the North Shore, take Highway 28 south to the Memorial Point Visitors Center parking lot, about a half mile north of Sand Harbor. Park there only if you want to take a short, 20-minute dip, or, if they're available, in one of the hard-to-find parking spaces along Highway 28. Hidden Beach is located next to the highway, about a half-mile south of its intersection with Lakeshore Drive. From the lot, walk along the highway until you see the nude beach, which will be clearly visible from a guardrail between Highway 28 and the sand.

The beach:

It really is mostly hidden but (see above) sandy. In fact, it's so shielded from view that even though the beach is located between the lake and the nearby highway, it can only be seen from the road by peering over a guardrail.

The crowd:

Mostly clothing-optional users, who are usually tolerated by state rangers.

Problems:

Due to drop in water level, swimming not as good this year; hard to find; tight parking in lots on hot days; can be seen from road by pedestrians who peer over; needs better directions.

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