Hidden Pond


Rating: C

Several times a year, around a dozen members of the Bay Area Naturists (BAN) meet on the slopes of Mount Diablo and hike about three miles to a delightful little lake -- big enough in non-drought years to hold some 30 people, according to BAN leader Rich Pasco. Nudists have been quietly visiting the lake for about four years, and now you can join them too. It's takes over an hour to walk there from the nearest road, but visitors say the journey is usually worth it.

"In 2006, the pond was even deeper and wider than the previous year," Trevor Murphy says, who points out the water doesn't look as inviting when it's low, as it's been lately. In those cases, nudists often put down towels or tarps under a shade tree and have a picnic. The site is off a trail and over a hill, so walkers can't see skinny-dippers from the path. "It's a gorgeous place," Murphy recounts. "Even though it isn't very remote, it's extremely peaceful there." Along the way, naturists sometimes see cows on the trail, as well as evidence of feral pigs ("rooted-up ground," says Murphy, who notes that two large wire pig traps in the area were removed by rangers). Rolling grassland covers the foothills of the state park. "It's a pristine, Norman Rockwell kind of place," says Pasco, formerly of San Jose.

Want to visit? Hidden Pond doesn't appear on maps, so the best way to do so is with BAN, which plans to continue its periodic treks (usually every spring, although there's talk of going twice a year). For membership information and access to the organization's newsletter, go to www.bayareanaturists.org.

Part of Mount Diablo State Park.

How to find it:

Take Highway 680 to Danville and exit at Diablo Road. Following the green state park signs, drive east on Diablo. At El Cerro turn right to continue on Diablo. At the stop sign, which forms a junction with Blackhawk, turn left onto Mount Diablo Scenic Boulevard, which becomes South Gate Road at the park boundary. The road here is narrow and frequented by bicyclists. Follow it to the park's entrance kiosk (where you'll pay the $6 entrance fee and can get a map), then continue about 1.5 miles to the big, flat parking lot on the right -- the first one past Rock City. Look for a Curry Point sign near the start of the trail. BAN usually begins its hike there, following the path from the trailhead to a fire road. "You don't see [the lake] from the main trail," Pasco says. "You have to take off over the grassland to find it." Guide-led visitors have little trouble making the trek, though. It's fairly level, according to Murphy, with significant slopes only at the beginning and the end, up a steep rise and then down to the dell where the lake's nestled.

The beach:

The site is around 70 feet long by 40 feet wide, surrounded by an estimated 14 acres of secluded hillside studded with a grove of majestic oak and bay trees that offer welcome summer shade. According to Murphy, the water reaches six or seven feet at its deepest point. "It's pretty cold, so you can't swim that much," he says. He advises those who make the trip with BAN to bring good walking shoes, ground cover, and flip-flops. Pack a lunch.

The crowd:

The nearby trail is a favorite among hikers, but so far at the lake it's just naturist groups once or twice a year.


Lack of directions and need to go with BAN, long walk from the parking lot, some (avoidable) poison oak on the trail, may be windy in early spring.

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