While it's true that several skinny-dipping holes used by local residents are located near the Russian River town of Cazadero, they are surrounded by private property. And their owners don't like trespassers, so if they spot one, they are usually quick to call deputies.
The area around the holes is private property. But what about the water? It's a murky question. "Many property owners claim the water to the middle of the river as their property," says Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Gregg Paul. Lawyers who have researched these claims say that "if you can kayak or paddle to a swimming hole, you can use it, but not the riverbank," adds Paul. "But if you can't paddle to it, it's private property." When called to the scene, deputies usually try to avoid the controversy by urging visitors to leave. See Lower Wohler Bridge for policy. If you have any questions about legal issues, we suggest you contact local authorities.
How to find it:
From San Francisco, take Highway 101 north, past Santa Rosa, to River Road. Follow River Road and Highway 116 west through Guerneville to the cutoff for Cazadero, which is called Austin Creek Road. Turn left on Cazadero. Hole one: In town, take Fort Ross Road west past Neistrath Road to Bohan Dillon Road. (If you get to Meyers Grade Road, you've gone three miles too far.) Turn right on Bohan Dillon, a dirt road that crosses a bridge. Park in the meadow just before the bridge. Take the little trail that starts there through the trees and bushes to the riverbank. Hole two: Look for cars pulled over off Kings Ridge Road, which heads north from Cazadero.
Little riverside swimming holes, usually ringed by private land.
Use varies, but is often limited to just a few people, even on the hottest days. More often, such places are deserted.
You'll probably be visited or cited by a deputy if the owner of the property or a family member, friend, or passerby complains; trash; noise; needs better directions.