Secret Harbor Creek Beach

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Rating: A

I've got a secret. If you like to socialize with other people, you'll probably adore Secret Harbor Creek Beach, with it's gorgeous swath of sand, three pristine trails (local nudists filled 20 trash bags with litter from the paths, beach, and highway during a June cleanup), and very friendly people.

You likely won't be bored here. Activities include an annual seafood party open to TAN members (around 30 visitors came from Nevada and all over California to attend this year's mid-June food fest) with salmon, mussels, crab cakes, crab salad, tuna, scampi, and up to 30 pounds of prawns -- not to mention appetizers, bagels, cream cheese, and three cases of wine all consumed between noon and 8:30 p.m.; Hat Day, on the third Sunday of August, when visitors usually wear nothing but a creative hat; naked volleyball; paddleball without pants; and three bare-bottom barbecues a year.

Like the other Tahoe sites, the sand here is mostly decaying granite. To stop flakes of the hard granite from pinching you, instead of wearing sandals or flip-flops, make sure your feet are as unclad as the rest of your body.

Part of Toiyabe National Forest.

How to find it:

Follow directions to Secret Cove. Stay on the fire road until you arrive at the fork that says "Private Residence (left side) and Beaches (right side)." Veer right. Instead of following the next trail on the right to Boater's Beach, continue a quarter mile until you've crossed Secret Harbor Creek (it passes by in a culvert under the road) and arrived at a blue Porta Potty. Look back to the right and you'll notice that you've just passed the beach, which is only a 50-yard walk from here.

The beach:

Graced with a grove of shade-giving, black cottonwoods on one end of the cove, Secret Creek is a narrow strip of sand kept terraced by regular visitors. One bummer: vandals recently chopped off some of the trees' limbs. "It was disheartening," says TAN leader North Swanson. "There's no accounting for some people."

The crowd:

"On a beautiful Sunday, you might see 30 people on the sand," says Swanson. Visitor Dave Smith spotted "about 40-50 persons" during a visit. "Maybe 90 percent of them were nude," says Smith. Special events draw even more users. The beach usually hosts 120-150 hat-wearing naked people on Hat Day; one year, 235 showed up. Many visitors are 40- and 50-somethings.

Problems:

Granite flakes in open-toed shoes; beach hard to find unless you follow above directions; tight parking.

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