NAKED ON THE MOUNTAINTOP
In January, the leader of the Tahoe Area Naturists, North Swanson, used snowshoes to walk down a flurry-covered hill and go nude with some friends at Secret Harbor Creek Beach, just south of Incline Village, in North Lake Tahoe. "If it's above 40 degrees and there's no wind, it's okay," says Swanson, who went back several more times that month.
A few times, bears have wandered onto nude beaches at Tahoe during broad daylight, though nobody's been injured, and the bears have left quickly every time. Once, a federal park ranger on a trail near Marin County's Bass Lake let a group of nudists pass without incident while he was busy writing a citation to a man (clothed) for not having his dog on a leash.
About the ratings: We give an A to spots that are large or well-established and where the crowd is mostly nude, B to places where fewer than half the visitors are nude, C to small or emerging nude areas, and D to areas we suggest you avoid.
Please send brainstorms, your new beach finds, trip reports, and improved directions (especially road milepost numbers), along with your phone number to email@example.com or Gary Hanauer, c/o San Francisco Bay Guardian, 135 Mississippi St., San Francisco CA 94107
NORTH BAKER BEACH
From the first day of summer, when several hundred people appeared — by the estimate of regular visitor Paul Jung — to the warm spells that followed, visitors have been swarming onto San Francisco's North Baker Beach this year. And when it's been hot, 60 percent to 80 percent of those people showing up on the shoreline have been nude. The only bummer: a mini-war has erupted between beach regulars and a few gawkers with cameras or binoculars who occasionally hang out in the rocks above the site. "Most of the regulars carry small mirrors to shine at them," explains Jung, who keeps one in his beach bag. "Some people are even starting to shine laser pointers at them, with great success. Sometimes, five of us will aim up at one guy. So far, it's been pretty effective in getting them to back off."
Directions: Take the 29 Sunset or go north on 25th Avenue to Lincoln Boulevard. Turn right and take the second left onto Bowley Street. Follow Bowley to Gibson Road, turn right, and follow Gibson to the east parking lot. At the beach, head right to the nude area, which starts at the brown and yellow "Hazardous surf, undertow, swim at your own risk" sign. Some motorcycles in the lot have been vandalized, possibly by car owners angered by bikers parking in car spaces; to avoid trouble, motorcyclists should park in the motorcycle area near the cyclone fence.
LAND'S END BEACH
What ends at Land's End? Quite possibly your tan lines. Shorts, bikini tops, and even a few work clothes seem to disappear during weekday lunch breaks on warm summer days at this fun cove, which attracts a few skinny-dippers among a mostly swimsuit-wearing crowd. The site features a mix of sand and rocks, plus some of the Bay Area's best views. The beach is a quarter-mile long, with some nice sunbathing nooks. Bring a windbreaker in case the weather changes or check out the mini-windbreaks that visitors there have made with rocks and put together one of your own.