Odd Fellow's Beach

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Rating: C

Despite the county's anti-nudity laws and the efforts of a family that says it's owned the land since 1853, yet another small, out of the way nude beach has been emerging in Sonoma County. According to posts on the Nudist-Resorts.org bulletin board, small numbers of single people, couples, and families have been sunbathing naked at a beach near Odd Fellows Bridge, between Guerneville and Sunset Beach, on the Russian River. The site is just east of Korbel Winery. One writer says he's "been frequenting this hidden little beach" for four years "and it has become one of my favorites." He says that the "road is closed during winter, the bridge is removed in October, and replaced in May or June. Because of this, the beach area is rarely occupied." But, he adds, on warm spring weekends before the road is reopened, it isn't unusual to see "several couples and even families go nude there." Once summer arrives, though, more clothed people, traffic, and canoeists converge here. He remembers camping nude on the beach in spring 2004: "I felt so privileged." In July 2005, he camped there again. "I had the beach pretty much to myself," he writes. "The two couples that came through went nude also. Had a very peaceful time. The weather was perfect, and so was the water." Lately, a visitor who calls himself Redbeard has been grooming the site. In March 2008, he reported that "a large bay tree" washed onto the beach, "diminishing its size, but opening a clearing behind it." He then cleared the area of debris, cut some steps into the bank, and cleaned up "more spots" in the area. Redbeard said he'd found at least four locations on the sand that are big and soft enough to hold a blanket. Rains washed away a small edge of the beach, but they also caused even more foliage, including some willow trees, to grow, which has been helping shield the site from passing canoeists.

Meanwhile, a person who claims their family owns the beach says "Odd Fellows Beach is private property." The family apparently puts up "No Trespassing" signs, but, adds the family member, "every year folks tear (it) down ... litter, camp, and show no respect for the river or the land."

Unknown. Claimed to be private property, but, as is the case at some of the Russian River sites, portions may be public access area of private property. On June 1, 2008, a visitor named Dave found a new "No Trespassing" sign had been erected on a nearby trail. See Lower Wohler Bridge for law enforcement policy.

How to find it:

From Santa Rosa, go north on Highway 101 to River Road. Then follow River Road west, passing Wohler Road and Sunset Avenue, in the Hacienda District. After Sunset, River Road winds until it eventually curves past Korbel Winery. Check for Odd Fellows Park Road, which, if you're headed west, is the last street on the left before Korbel. Turn left onto Odd Fellows. Take it to Odd Fellows Bridge and park. If the bridge is not in place (it's there in late spring and summer), park at the end of the road. Walk to the last "Do Not Park" sign on your right. Follow the little trail that begins there as it goes up the embankment, staying on it as it heads to the right and takes you to the beach.

The beach:

The beach curves and has a grove of willows that help keep it obscured from the view of passing canoeists or gawkers. In May or June, after the bridge is put back in place and traffic increases, clothing-optional visitors sometimes move to a nearby site, about .25 mile upstream, for more secluded tanning. "For the adventurous types, there is a clearing and meadow, big enough for Frisbee, on a private lot above," says Redbeard.

The crowd:

Probably just you, but there may be a few other visitors.

Problems:

Family that says it owns the site is asking naturists to stay away; see Wohler Bridge for anti-nudity enforcement policy. Due to increased traffic and canoeists, may be difficult to sunbathe nude here in the summer.

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