North Whale Beach

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Rating: C

A whale in Lake Tahoe? Nobody knows how one got there from the ocean, but the denizen of the deep has apparently had a whale of a time leaving. Just kidding. Actually, Whale Beach is named for a group of big rocks just offshore that look like the head of a whale. The long line of sand links a number of coves rather than a single site, with North Whale Beach and South Whale Beach being the main sections. Not many people visit North Whale because of the long hike that's required on the main trail from Tahoe's other clothing-optional beaches. But if you undertake the journey, you will probably get a nice perk: a chance to enjoy suitless sunbathing without the crowds that usually flock to other parts of the lake. Bring a towel, a book, and plenty of sunscreen to enjoy the serenity of this secluded section of the shore.

Part of Toiyabe National Forest.

How to find it:

The beach is south, around the point, from Secret Creek Beach (see previous entry). Follow directions to Secret Creek Beach, passing the blue Porta Potty. About 200-300 yards past the bathroom, the road peters out into a flat area of waist-high manzanita. On the right, there are some rocks. If you go straight ahead, you'll come to the water and will be facing Whale Rock. Look for a short series of steps. They will lead you down to the sand. Total walking distance from the first in the string of five adjacent beaches is about two miles.

The beach:

Large and sandy, with a few rocks, Whale's series of coves are spread out over the equivalent length of three football fields. "But it's fairly narrow," explains Williams.

The crowd:

Varying in number, the crowd is sometimes completely nude, sometimes totally clothed, or a mix. Swanson spotted three naked people and seven clothed people during his last visit. One summer day, Williams counted 12 visitors over a 150-200 yard long swath of shoreline; on a weekday, he found six people, including two who were nude.

Problems:

Lower lake level this year; long walk; tight parking.

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