to Lake Tahoe Nude
Visitors will get a real treat at Lake Tahoe's seven clothing-optional beaches (up one from last season): "the most sand in six years," according to North Swanson, leader of Tahoe Area Naturists (TAN). That's music to the ears of Sacramento's Robert Carlsen, one of the many Tahoe junkies who says he likes to head for the lake "whenever it's 100 degrees here and above 65 degrees there." (Even though they're in Nevada, we list Tahoe's beaches because so many Californians visit them.) The bad news: parking space on the highway for the six beaches listed after this one could drop 50 percent by August. Construction could also temporarily cut off access to beach lots. If the Forest Service doesn't agree to expand the lots to make up for the estimated 143 spaces being lost, then TAN plans to go to court. "We're hoping they'll agree, but if not, we've built up a legal fund and are ready to sue," says Swanson. Want to find Hidden Beach? Look for it near Sand Harbor, about a half mile south of the outskirts of Incline Village and some three to four miles north of the lake's other nude beaches.
How to find it: From the North Shore take Highway 28 south to the Memorial Point Visitors Center parking lot, about a half mile north of Sand Harbor. Park there or, if they're available, in one of the hard-to-find parking spaces along Highway 28. Hidden Beach is located next to the highway, approximately a half mile south of its intersection with Lakeshore Drive. From the lot, walk along the highway until you see the nude beach, which will be clearly visible from a guardrail between Highway 28 and the sand.
The beach: True to its name, even though the beach is located between the lake and the adjacent highway, it's only visible from the road by peering over a guardrail. Expect more sand than usual this year.
The crowd: Mostly clothing-optional users, who are well tolerated by state rangers.
Problems: Hard to find, limited parking, can be seen from road by pedestrians who "peer over," needs better directions.
The first in a string of six delightful beaches south of Sand Harbor, Chimney is mostly a clothed site that gets some nude use.
How to find it: From the North Shore, take Highway 28 south to Sand Harbor. Just over a mile south of Sand Harbor, look on your right for an iron security gate for an estate. Proceed south on 28 another 200 yards until you come to a gated Forest Service parking lot on the east (mountain) side of the highway. Or, from the state line, follow Highway 50 north to 28. Go north on 28 about six miles until you see a parking lot on the west (lake) side of the highway. Don't park there. Continue north on 28 just a little more than a half mile, turn right, and park in the little 30-car lot. Walk across the highway and take the trail down to the beach. Expect an easy 5- to 10-minute walk.
The beach: The curving, sandy shoreline is dotted with hundreds of boulders, both in and next to the water.
The crowd: Though it's mostly a suited beach, on hot summer days Chimney gets a few dozen nudists. But more families who park their boats and then spend the day here have been reported.
Problems: Parking lot easy to miss. Parking may soon be limited or there may be construction-related delays (see Hidden Beach). "Suited users sometimes look at you funny if you're nude there," Robert Carlsen says.
BLACK SAND BEACH
Want to play nude detective? Lakeside trees, boulders, shadows, and black sand combine to give little Black Sand Beach a mysterious feeling. Your first task: trying to find this somewhat hard-to-reach spot.
How to find it: From Chimney Beach (see previous entry), walk south along the shore, climbing over rocks where necessary. You'll find the beach just before you come to a point that veers to the left.
The beach: It's a shady lake spot with black sand.
The crowd: It's sparse, but because the beach is so small, it may feel crowded.
Problems: Boulders, not much sun during morning and late afternoon, difficult to find.
Also called Paradise Cove, Paradise Rock, and by the ever popular moniker Frankie Loves Dougie Beach, Tahoe's most frequented nude enclave has changed, in a year, from a spot that was more rocks than sand to a nice, sandy cove. Among its "secrets": the beach still has a few great "tanning rocks" for clothing-optional sunbathing.
How to find it: From the state line, take Highway 50 north to Highway 28. Go north on 28 about six miles until you see a parking lot on the west (lake) side of the highway. Park here. Walk south on the fire road that begins here until you come to two Porta Potties and some trash cans. Follow the trail that starts here down to the beach. Expect a 10- to 15-minute walk. If the lot is full, you can park on the shoulder of 28, south of the last No Parking sign (cars on the asphalt itself will be cited). On the west side of the road, follow signs that say Trail to the beach path.
The beach: "Paradise was mostly rocks for the last few years," Swanson says. "Now it has some good sand."
The crowd: Most users are nude.
Problems: Rocks; parking may soon be limited (see Hidden Beach).
SECRET CREEK BEACH
WANT TO VISIT Lake Tahoe's most social nude beach? Hard-to-find Secret Creek, a.k.a. Secret Creek Harbor Beach, is often the setting for sans-suit volleyball and paddleball games, as well as – except for aprons and tongs – naked barbecues. "Sand conditions this year are outrageously good," said Swanson, who along with TAN patrols for litter. Like the other Tahoe sites, the sand here is composed of decaying granite. Tip: don't wear sandals. "It's a very nice place, as long as you go barefoot," frequent visitor Robert Carlsen says. "Once the coarse sand gets in your sandals, it's very uncomfortable."
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) and Beaches (right). 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 roars by in a culvert under the road) and arrived at a blue Porta Potti. 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: Secret Creek is a narrow swath of sand.
The crowd: More family-oriented than Tahoe's other nude beaches, Secret Creek gets a mix of all ages.
Problems: Beach hard to find unless you follow above directions; parking may soon be limited (see Hidden Beach).
More a group of small coves than a single beach, Whale has one feature you might want to check out: an array of large rocks just offshore. Look closely and see if you can figure out what animal's head they resemble.
How to find it: The beach is south, around the point, from Secret Creek Beach (see previous entry). Follow directions to Secret Creek Beach, passing the blue Porta Potti. About 200 to 300 yards past the bathroom, the road peters out into a flat area of waist-high manzanita. On the right, there are some rocks. If you go straight ahead, you'll come to the water and will be facing Whale Rock. Look for a short series of steps. They will lead you down to the sand. Total walking distance from the first in the string of five adjacent beaches: about two miles.
The beach: Large and sandy, with a few rocks.
The crowd: Varying in number, the crowd is sometimes completely nude, sometimes totally clothed, or a mix.
Problems: Long walk; parking may soon be limited (see Hidden Beach).