Tish Tang

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Rating: C

The only nude beach in Northern California where you can drive right onto a riverbank, park, get out, and start sunbathing and swimming naked, is located at Tish Tang, some 45 minutes from the coast.  "It's so cool that you can take a vehicle and do this," says Alex Towery, who usually goes to the Trinity River site at least once a summer.  The beach, which is reached via a nearby campground, offers nearly a mile of fun in the sun.  And seniors and New Agers have been coming to Tish Tang for years to try its waters, which some Hoopa Indians allege have the power to heal.  But the beach has more gravel than sand.  And here's a tip: stop by on a weekday instead of a weekend.  It can be loud on weekends, when suited families, mixed with teens and partiers, sometimes bring their boom boxes.  "Some people even set up barbecues on the sand," says Towery.  A few persons have reportedly injured themselves using a rope swing that's about 100 feet off the ground; the beach has several rope swings.

Legal status:

Property of the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation, whose residents have complained about nudists in the past. Hoopa Valley is the largest reservation in California. According to an order issued by President U.S. Grant in 1976, the reservation encompasses 89,572 acres. The reservation is about 50 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, and 300 miles north of San Francisco.

How to find it:

Head to Willow Creek (see above), then drive 7.9 miles north on Highway 96 toward Hoopa. "Highway 96 winds through a fantastic river canyon, along some of the best blacktop in California," tells Jerry White, of San Leandro. Driving time is approximately 30 minutes from Arcata to Willow Creek and then another 10-15 minutes to Tish Tang. The road follows the river in Six Rivers National Forest, just south of the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. Look for the Tish Tang campground and from there, drive onto the beach, being careful to stay on the smoothest, most well-worn stones.

The beach:

The best area is south around the bend. You can also canoe to Tish Tang. Water depth and speed depends on whether a dam along the Trinity is open, causing high levels, or closed.

The crowd:

Canoeists, tube riders, families, and a few skinny-dippers. Towery has observed 5-20 people present, with up to 25 percent going nude.

Problems:

Rocky river bottom; cold water; may be noisy on weekends; some objections to nudity; during high water years, drownings have happened.

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