Everything you need to know to drop trou waterside
"It really was nice in May," says Dave Smith of San Leandro regarding his visit to beautiful Bass Lake, deep in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The lake lies off a path that, if you continue past the lake turnoff, will eventually take you to a waterfall. "The trail was a little overgrown — but I had fun swimming nude in the lake." Bass, though, doesn't attract as many nudists as it did 10 years ago. "When I first went, everybody was nude," says Smith, who usually leads a group of Bay Area Naturists once a year for picnicking and swimming outings at Bass — which, by the way, doesn't have any bass fish. Pat, a recent visitor, says, "Most people are cool if you take off your clothes, but some are kind of freaked out." Suggestions: bring an air mattress, water shoes, and a thick towel or tarp for sitting on the matted, sometimes prickly meadow near the water. For even more fun, try the lake's rope swing.
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. For directions to Alamere Falls, 1.5 miles past Bass Lake, please see "Elsewhere In Marin" in our online listings.
RCA BEACH, BOLINAS
Inspiring. Romantic. Isolated. Rugged. However you describe RCA Beach, a Point Reyes National Seashore property near Bolinas, you'll probably say you like it. "It hasn't changed much in 20 years," says regular visitor Michael Velkoff. But it can be a bit breezy at the cove, which requires a moderately long walk to reach. The good news is that there are lots of nooks that are sheltered from the wind. And there's so much driftwood on the sand that many people build windbreaks or even whole forts. Though seldom deserted, RCA is never crowded and averages five to 20 people per day. "It's a quiet place," says Velkoff. "Whenever I've been there, everyone's been nude."
Directions: From Stinson Beach, take Highway 1 (Shoreline Highway) north toward Calle Del Mar for4.5 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 quarter mile 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 half 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. "It's shorter, but toward the end there's a rope for you to hold onto going down the cliff," says Velkoff.
LIMANTOUR BEACH, OLEMA