Rope Beach

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Rating: D

A support rope that beachgoers used to guide themselves up and down a cliff in the Davenport area has disappeared, making access to the sand below very dangerous. "It's very hard not to slip down the loose rock and rock face," says one visitor, Russ. "We didn't fall or anything, but I would not recommend going down to this beach unless you consider yourself an experienced rock climber. It's probably a 70 degree slope. We went back up very carefully. It's much harder than ever before, with nothing to prevent you from slipping and falling down."

To reach the beautiful and nearly always uncrowded shore, visitors previously used the rope to hold themselves close to the cliff while placing their feet on footholds. Says Russ: "The rope helped you steady yourself."

Legal status:

Rumored to be destined to become a state beach. The Nature Conservancy reportedly bought the land on the cliffs above the beach, used in the past to grow artichokes, from the Packard Foundation.

How to find it:

Rope Beach is north of Shark's Tooth Beach (Davenport Cove), between it and Davenport Municipal Beach. If you're facing Shark's Tooth, it's to the right. Follow the directions to Davenport Cove (see entry below) off Highway 1 north of Santa Cruz. The turnoff is 39.1 miles south of the junction of Highways 1 and 92 in Half Moon Bay and 12.2 miles north of the junction of Highways 1 and 17 in Santa Cruz. Park at the main public beach, find the railroad tracks, and take the trail that begins there. But instead of following it about a half mile south, which will take you Davenport Cove, at the tracks "you go to the right," says Russ. Previously, visitors would look for "a round, one-inch diameter steel stake that is rusted, which marks the area where the rope goes down," according to Russ. He said the rope had knots tied in it, so it won't slip out of your hand when you go up or down" the cliff. We told visitors to be sure you hang onto it. "Otherwise, if you take one false step, you could fall 50 feet," explained Russ. Now, though, with the rope gone, experienced visitors look for what Russ calls "a little narrow path through the brush. We were looking for little toeholds in the rocks. On the way back, I helped my wife up and handed her stuff, like our backpack."

The beach:

What Rope Beach lacks in length -- it's maybe 150 yards long -- it more than makes up for in width. Russ likes to sit near but not directly next to the cliff, "which will give you some shelter from the wind. The beach is big enough so that you can spread out on it without being near someone. People aren't planted five feet away from each other. If somebody is uncomfortable (with someone being nude), they could move to another part of the beach." The beach is usually in good shape, with almost no litter, due to the lack of visitors. "A few people go in the water, but the waves are pretty rough," says Russ. "It's more of a sunning beach." Adds a reader: "The beach is nice once you get there."

The crowd:

"You might see as many as eight-to-10 people there, but more often there are a half dozen or less" reports a recent visitor. "Quite often, there are nude people on the beach." Russ says there was nobody else there one time he was at the beach and "a lady and a couple" during his next visit. 

Problems:

Support rope gone; steep, slippery trail; needs better directions; rough water; from the cliffs, keep looking for people on the beach; gawkers have occasionally lurked in the plants on the cliff edge.

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