- This Week
07.06.10 - 2:19 pm | Gary Hanauer |
Directions: The easiest way to find the beach is to go north on Highway 1 from Mill Valley, following the signs to Stinson Beach. At the long line of mailboxes next to the Muir Beach cutoff point, start checking your odometer. Look for a dirt lot full of cars to the left (west) of the highway exactly 5.6 miles north of Muir and a smaller one on the right (east) side of the road. The lots are at milepost 11.3, one mile south of Stinson Beach. Limited parking is also available 150 yards to the south on the west side of Highway 1. Take the path to the beach that starts near the Dumpster next to the main parking lot. The trail's doable but moderately long, steep, and slippery, so don't wear flip-flops.
BASS LAKE, BOLINAS
If you're sleepless in San Anselmo, a cure might be to bare your bottom at Bass in Bolinas. "If you want to visit an enchanted lake, Bass is it," says Ryan, of the East Bay. "Tree branches reach over the water, forming a magical canopy, and huge bunches of calla lilies bloom on the shore." Even walking to Bass, 45-60 minutes from the lot over 2.8 relatively easy miles, can be an adventure like none other. You may see people with backpacks but no pants on the trail. Rangers once stopped and cited a clad man who had an unleashed dog but let the nudists continue. Says Dave Smith, of San Leandro, who unusually walks naked: "I came around a corner and there was a mountain lion sitting like Egypt's Great Sphinx of Giza 50 yards down the path." Bring a heavy towel or tarp for sitting on a somewhat prickly meadow near the water.
Directions: From Stinson Beach, go north on Highway 1. Just north of Bolinas Lagoon, turn left on the often-unmarked exit to Bolinas. Follow the road as it curves along the lagoon and eventually ends at Olema-Bolinas Road; continue along Olema-Bolinas Road to the stop sign at Mesa Road. Turn right on Mesa and drive four miles until it becomes a dirt road and ends at a parking lot. On hot days the lot fills quickly. A sign at the trailhead next to the lot will guide you down scenic Palomarin Trail to the lake.
RCA BEACH, BOLINAS
Couples love RCA Beach near Bolinas, and so do singles who long for a ruggedly isolated shoreline that doesn't take long to reach. This summer, there's even more to enjoy: the beach is reported to be about four to six feet wider than last year. But it has more gravel this season. "A downside is that it's very exposed to the wind," says regular visitor Michael Velkoff. "There's so much driftwood on the sand that many people build windbreaks or even whole forts. The last time I went, somebody built a 30-foot-tall dragon." The breathtakingly beautiful beach seems even bigger than its one mile length because, Velkoff says, "you might only see eight people spread out on the sand. Everybody's like 100 feet apart. It's great."
Directions: From Stinson Beach, take Highway 1 (Shoreline Highway) north toward Calle Del Mar for 4.5 miles. Turn left onto Olema Bolinas Road and follow it 1.8 miles to Mesa Road in Bolinas. Turn right and stay on Mesa until you see cars parked past some old transmission towers. Park and walk a 0.25 to the end of the pavement. Go left through the gap in the fence. The trail leads to a gravel road. Follow it until you see a path on your right, leading through a gate. Take it along the cliff top until it veers down to the beach. Or continue along Mesa until you come to a grove of eucalyptus trees. Enter through the gate here, then hike a 0.5 mile through a cow pasture on a path that will also bring you through thick brush. The second route is slippery and eroding, but less steep.