Even though visitor Fred Jaggi found it to muddy and shallow by Memorial Day this year, the spot regulars call "The Pond" continues to attract nudists. "But it's not really being used that much for swimming," says Jaggi. "All along the dam face, there were sunbathers." Socializing and gay cruising are two other common activities at The Pond. By mid-June, signs warn visitors to stay out of the water due to its high bacteria count. "I used to go there to cool off, but the water's pretty putrid," says Michael Velkoff. Suggests Jaggi: "If you visit after July 4, I would bring some water with you to rinse off with." In recent years, more visits by cops, as well as warnings for public sex, have been reported.
Managed by Point Reyes National Seashore.
How to find it:
From Stinson Beach, go north on Highway 1, passing Audubon Canyon Ranch on the right and, a half mile later, the Bolinas turnoff. After the stand of eucalyptus trees, keep heading north, past the Dogtown Pottery sign and some sharp turns with more eucalyptus. As the road becomes straighter, look for another small group of eucalyptus. The parking area is on the west side, next to a Randall trailhead sign. At the entrance, at milepost 20.53, walk right across the meadow and you'll see the pond. Look for sunbathing space around the dam.
A human-made lake with limited access to the water, except near the dam. "It gets more clogged with weeds every year," says Dave Smith, of San Leandro. When most bathers are not present, cows sometimes wander down to the water for a drink, creating possible health hazards. Some visitors, though, say there's been a noticeable decrease in sightings of the bovines.
Crowds range from a few people to several dozen, except on the warmest days (maybe two or three times a year), when up to 75 mostly nude, mostly gay men can be found; straight folks also visit.
Muddy; lake becoming clogged with vegetation; pull-off easy to miss (heading south, if you pass Dogtown, at milepost 18, you've gone too far); limited access; cow manure; cold water and varying water quality; sexual activity at or near site sometimes brings rangers.