Soberanes Creek

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Rating: C

One of the least known skinny-dipping holes in our guide is -- amazingly -- just off Soberanes Canyon Trail, one of Monterey County's most popular paths.Most hikers walk right by the side trail to the hidden riverbank, which is located between Point Lobos and Garrapata Beach. To find the main trailhead, look for cars pulled over on the inland side of Highway 1, near Garrapata.You can't see a marker from the highway, but if no cars are there, the best landmark is a large pullout under a row of cypresses next to the highway.

Legal status:

Part of Garrapata State Park.

How to find it:

Take Highway 1 south. Just before the big Garrapata State Park sign, across from cars parked on the west side of the highway, keep your eyes open for a small pullout or vehicles parked on the east (inland) side of the road.At the trailhead is a gated dirt road."Two trails begin there," says a senior citizen who's been swimming in the hole nude with his wife since they were youths. "Instead of taking the Rocky Ridge Trail to the left, follow the Soberanes Canyon Trail to the right." Stay on the path approximately one-and-a-half miles until it ends. Then look for a path that leads off to the side, down to the creek.

The beach:

"It's a little nude swimming hole in the creek," says a reader.

The crowd:

Probably just you or a few local residents.

Problems:

Pull-off and trailhead area easy to miss; nudity discouraged in the state park.

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