Secret Harbor Creek Beach

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Rating: A

Do you own a cap or other hat? If so, then you might want to participate in Secret Harbor Creek Beach's 31st annual "only wear a hat" day August 19. Can't drop by then? Something fun is always happening on this normally pristine beach. For example, an all-nude potluck on the sand will take place on the Saturday after July 4 next year. And volunteers are needed for next June's annual beach cleanup, which drew a record 24 people this year.

Considered the best of the Tahoe nude beaches, the site, which is called Creek Beach by some users, also offers nude volleyball games and pantsless Paddle Ball. Plans call for as many as three naked barbecues this summer, so, if you like to socialize, get your bums and buns down to the sand, which is often so spotless start-of-the-day visitors are afraid to step on it.

Secret Harbor's secret weapon: a retiree named Bob, who rakes the sand clean of pebbles and debris almost every summer morning, before crowds arrive. "When he gets done with it, it looks like the sand trap at the first hole of the U.S. Open," tells North Swanson, leader of the Tahoe Area Naturists (TAN). "It's his form of exercise."

Like the other Tahoe nude beaches, the sand here is mainly composed of flakes of hard granite. To stop them from getting caught in your shoes and pinching you, when you arrive take off your shoes and let your feet go "nude" too.

Legal status:

Part of Toiyabe National Forest.

How to find it:

Follow directions to Secret Cove. Stay on the fire road until you arrive at the fork that says "Private Residence (left side) and Beaches (right side)." Veer right. Instead of following the next trail on the right to Boater's Beach, continue a quarter mile until you've crossed Secret Harbor Creek (it passes by in a culvert under the road) and arrived at a blue Porta Potty. Look back to the right and you'll notice that you've just passed the beach, which is only a 50-yard walk from here.

The beach:

Graced with a grove of shade-giving, black cottonwoods on one end of the cove, Secret Creek is a narrow strip of sand kept terraced and in beautiful condition by Bob and other volunteers. 

The crowd:

The site usually attracts 15-75 visitors a day, except during special events, when hundreds may attend. "On a good day, up to 40 percent of the visitors are women," says TAN's Swanson. In June 2010, Swanson counted "maybe 15 people on the sand." "On a beautiful Sunday, you might see 30 people on the sand," he estimates. Visitor Dave Smith spotted "about 40-50 persons" during a visit. "Maybe 90 percent of them were nude," says Smith. About 75 nudie-foodies appeared at last season's seafood extravaganza. The beach usually hosts 120-150 hat-wearing naked people on Hat Day; one year, 235 showed up. Many visitors are 40- and 50-somethings.

Problems:

Granite flakes tend to pinch feet if you wear sandals or flip-flops; beach hard to find unless you follow above directions; tight parking.

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