People's Beach

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Rating: D

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Even though signs warn hikers not to take its steep, treacherous trail, the beach next to Devil's Slide by skinnydippers since at least the 1970s, when San Leandro resident Dave Smith remembers up to 60 bare bottom sunbathers somehow making it down on the sand for tanning, socializing, or even playing volleyball in the mote-sized cove. "You had to jump the last eight feet until somebody finally added a plank," he says. The site, adds Smith, eventually "became a gay scene." Later, frequent instances of sex on the beach, and further deterioration of the trail, reportedly drove most visitors away.

"We really like it," says a reader who calls it Doug's Beach after his friend. "Doug and I go there quite a bit." And says Bay Area resident Timothy Moscow: "It's heaven." But Carl Ernst, former operator of adjacent Devil's Slide, advises visitors to try other beaches instead. "All I can say is that it's not a very good beach," tells Ernst. The trail to the site is so dangerous that it's been officially closed for years. Users say the crumbling, breakaway path gives way to a 20 foot drop at the end. Wear hiking shoes and be prepared to turn back.

State property, presumed to be part of Montara State Beach.

How to find it:

From San Francisco, take Highway 1 south past Pacifica to Montara Beach. Park at the Montara State Beach lot, then walk north along the highway to the trailhead. The beach path begins next to a highway turnout. Look for the "Hiking, Climbing Prohibited" sign.

The beach:

"On a good day, it's maybe 80 to 100 yards long," estimates Ernst. During high tide, the site may disappear altogether. Does the beach have any redeeming qualities? The answer: not many. "It's very quiet, which is why I go here," one reader says. Another says it's less windy than Devil's Slide.

The crowd:

Usually just you. A huge crowd here would be five people.

Problems:

Nearly inaccessible; crumbling and dangerous trail made even worse by this winter and spring's heavy rains; fog; cold water; small beach; lack of precise trail directions; reports of sex on the beach.

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