People's Beach

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Rating: D

Although we can't recommend People's Beach, a few people somehow still make their way down its crumbling, eroded, and very dangerous path. Worse yet, the beach disappears in high tide. And incidents of sex on the sand have driven away former regulars. In its heyday, up to 60 nudists a day wound up on the sand, recalls Dave Smith, of San Leandro. "You had to jump the last eight feet until somebody added a plank." The site, he says, later "became a gay scene." Remembers Bay Area resident Timothy Moscow: "It was heaven."

"All I can say is that it's not a very good beach," says Carl Ernst, former operator of nearby Devil's Slide. The path to the beach is so dangerous that it's been officially closed for years -- and the Guardian continues to recommend you avoid it. Users say the steep trail gives way to a 20 foot drop at the end. Wear hiking shoes and be prepared to turn back.

Legal status:

State property, believed to be part of Montara State Beach.

How to find it:

From San Francisco, take Highway 1 south past Pacifica to Montara Beach. Park at the Montara State Beach lot, then walk north along the highway to the trailhead. The beach path begins next to a highway turnout. Look for the "Hiking, Climbing Prohibited" sign.

The beach:

"On a good day, it's maybe 80 to 100 yards long," estimates Ernst. During high tide, the site may disappear altogether. Does the beach have any nice qualities? "It's very quiet, which is why I go here," one reader says. Another says it's less windy than Devil's Slide.

The crowd:

Often deserted: a big crowd here would be five people.

Problems:

Brutally steep, breakaway trail; nearly inaccessible; fog; cold water; small beach; lack of precise trail directions; reports of sex on the beach.

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