Las Trampas

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Rating: C

Bordered by such communities as Danville, Alamo, Castro Valley, and San Ramon, the East Bay Regional Park District's (EBRPD) Las Trampas Regional Wilderness sprawls over 3,798 acres. EBRPD has a strict anti-nudity regulation in place, so it's one of the last places you'd expect to see nudists. The truth: is unless you're a night owl, you won't "see" them. But that doesn't mean they're not there.

For several years, the Bay Area Naturists have been leading one of America's only naked "Full Moon Hikes," as the organization calls them, along some remote trails in Las Trampas. "It's amazing," says Dave Smith, of San Leandro. "It's at night, so we're usually the only ones on the path. But it isn't easy. Some parts of the journey are pretty mountain-goatish. We climb 1,200 feet during our three or four mile walk."

Still, a number of nude hikers volunteered to participate in such a trek last summer and five went on such a venture the year before. "Most of the time we walked on moderate slopes sometimes covered with dead and very slippery grass," reported Jurek Zarzycki in one of BAN's newsletters. "Sometimes the trail was overgrown with manzanita bushes. The smells of sage and other herbs and grasses were strong and delightful."

Another time, the path was so slippery that the hikers crawled along it on all fours, while grasping for bushes hidden by the darkening sky. "We walked slowly and chatted a lot," remembered Zarzycki. "Despite our slow tempo and frequent stops, we made it to the ridge just as the Sun was touching the horizon."

Night fell, but, surprisingly, it stayed warm. "Usually cold and strong winds make everyone dress and leave quickly," said Zarzycki. "We hung around for quite some time, soaking up the magnificent hues of the western sky and the growing band of purple hues in the east, with a silvery moon hanging over us."

By now, it was completely dark, but only one visitor had brought a flashlight. "We laughed at her for this, but her flashlight helped me a lot," admitted Zarzycki. "I think everyone in our group fell down on their butt at least once" in the most slippery spots. But they helped each other and continued down the ridge.

A few minutes later, they came across a band of horses. In the moonlight, the animals looked silent, majestic, proud and awe inspiring, according to Zarzycki. "We stopped to admire them and they slowly walked up to us, ready for some treat or at least some petting, which they all got," he said.

At 10:30 p.m., the group arrived back at their starting point and most of the hikers headed for the showers, a pool, and a hot tub at the Sequoians Naturist Club in Castro Valley.

Legal status:

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, where nudity is prohibited.

How to find it:

Contact BAN at http://www.bayareanaturists.org for details on how to join a walk. Participants usually meet at and return to the Sequoians Naturist Club, in Castro Valley. To get there, take Highway 580 east to the Crow Canyon Road exit. Or follow 580 west to the first Castro Valley offramp. Take Crow Canyon Road toward San Ramon .75 mile to Cull Canyon Road. Then follow Cull Canyon Road around 6.5 miles to the end of the paved road. Take the dirt road, on the right, until the "Y" in the road and keep left. Shortly thereafter, you'll see the Sequoians sign. Proceed ahead for about another .75 mile to the Sequoians front gate.

The beach:

Scrubby, sometimes slippery, three-to-four-mile-long trail, with moderate to steep slopes.

The crowd:

Expect five to ten participants.

Problems:

Must go as part of a guided group and pay fee ($15 per couple, $10 for singles); visibility limited so bring a flashlight; use of bug repellent advised; some of the trail is steep and slippery; walk only held once or twice a year.

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