Odd Fellow's Beach

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Rating: C

Odd Fellow's Beach has an odd problem: a family is trying to keep naked people off what they say is their land. But rebuffing those who sunbathe in the buff isn't the only issue. The spot is also said to be private property.  

At last report, the dispute was underway between naturists who were hoping to start a nude beachhead on one side of a bridge and a family that claimed to own the property on the other side. Despite the county's anti-nudity laws and the efforts of the family that reports it's owned property along the water since 1853, the visitors haven't given up.  

According to posts on the Nudist-Resorts.org bulletin board, small numbers of single people, couples, and families have been sunbathing naked at a beach near Odd Fellows Bridge, between Guerneville and Sunset Beach, on the Russian River. The site is just east of Korbel Winery and a little downstream and to the west of the bridge.

One writer says he's "been frequenting this hidden little beach" for four years "and it has become one of my favorites." He says that the "road is closed during winter, the bridge is removed in October, and replaced in May or June. Because of this, the beach area is rarely occupied." But, he adds, on warm spring weekends before the road is reopened, it isn't unusual to see "several couples and even families go nude there." Once summer arrives, though, more clothed people, traffic, and canoeists converge here. He describes what it was like to camp nude on the beach: "I felt so privileged. I had the beach pretty much to myself. The two couples that came through went nude also. Had a very peaceful time. The weather was perfect, and so was the water."

Lately, a visitor who calls himself Redbeard has been grooming the site. He says he's cleared the area of debris, cut some steps into the bank, and cleaned up "more spots" in the area. Redbeard said he'd found at least four locations on the sand that are big and soft enough to hold a blanket. Rains washed away a small edge of the beach, but they also caused even more foliage, including some willow trees, to grow, which has been helping shield the site from passing canoeists.

Meanwhile, a person representing the family says "Odd Fellows Beach is private property." The family apparently puts up "No Trespassing" signs, but, adds the family member, "every year folks tear (it) down ... litter, camp, and show no respect for the river or the land."

Legal status:

Unknown. Claimed to be private property, but, as is the case at some of the Russian River sites, portions may be public access area of private property. A "No Trespassing" sign has reportedly been erected on a nearby trail. See Lower Wohler Bridge for law enforcement policy.

How to find it:

From Santa Rosa, go north on Highway 101 to River Road. Then follow River Road west, passing Wohler Road and Sunset Avenue, in the Hacienda District. After Sunset, River Road winds until it eventually curves past Korbel Winery. Check for Odd Fellows Park Road, which, if you're headed west, is the last street on the left before Korbel. Turn left onto Odd Fellows. Take it to Odd Fellows Bridge and park. If the bridge is not in place (it's there in late spring and summer), park at the end of the road. Walk to the last "Do Not Park" sign on your right. Follow the little trail that begins there as it goes up the embankment, staying on it as it heads to the right and takes you to the beach, which is said to be on the western, downstream side of the bridge.

The beach:

The beach curves and has a grove of willows that help keep it obscured from the view of passing canoeists or gawkers. In May or June, after the bridge is put back in place and traffic increases, clothing-optional visitors sometimes move to a nearby site, about .25 mile upstream, for more secluded tanning. "For the adventurous types, there is a clearing and meadow, big enough for Frisbee, on a private lot above," says Redbeard.

The crowd:

Probably just you, but there may be a few other visitors.

Problems:

Family that says it owns the site is asking naturists to stay away; see Wohler Bridge for anti-nudity enforcement policy. Due to increased traffic and canoeists, may be difficult to sunbathe nude here in the summer.

 

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