(2004 & 2005)
There are several traditional clothing-optional beaches along or near the South Yuba River in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
The water is always clear in this mountain stream, and in summer it is rarely too deep or swift to wade across. I have visited in July, August, and September, and the water temperature has always been comfortable in those months. I come to California at least every other year and always, but always, make time to relax at the Yuba River.
All directions are given from Grass Valley or Nevada City. If you are coming from outside the area from the east, take I-80 from Reno to Nevada City. From the west or south, take I-80 from Sacramento. If you are winding down the mountain roads from the north, you should already be familiar with the area.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian (a weekly alternative newspaper) has an annual California nude beaches guide, but their Nevada County page has not been updated for a few years.
When parking at the side of the road at any of these locations, your car must be completely off the pavement. If the road is unpaved, be sure you are outside the lane of traffic.
This isolated site features a large pool which is eight feet deep in spots. There is not very much shade until late in the day. Some ducks make their home in the pond. The beach is very rocky with patches of sand.
Several years ago it seems to have been more popular. But when I visited on a Saturday in 2005 there were never more than about 8 people present at a time. I imagine it might be deserted during the week except on the best summer days. There were both clothed and unclothed people, who generally kept to themselves.
This could be a good location if you want to get away from most people, yet still have a large open space to walk around uninhibited and also enough water to actually swim in.
There are pit toilets and trash cans at the parking area.
From Grass Valley take State Highway 20 west, past Penn Valley. Turn right (north) on Pleasant Valley Road. You’ll reach the Bridgeport ranger station, part of the park, after 6 or 7 miles. Cross the bridge and park in the lot on the right side of the road. On the north side of the river, walk upstream, not on the trail down by the river but on one further uphill that parallels it.
Eventually you reach a sign saying end of trail. (The trail looks like it continues, but in fact there is a major gully washout shortly beyond that point.) Make your way down to the river just before the end of trail sign to the pool. Explore anywhere upstream of the pool (but textiles will be downstream).
Those who make the hike are rewarded with two pools. The upper one is several hundred feet long and features rock slides. There is always some shade, but at mid-day it is not close to the water. The river is bordered by a mix of boulders and gravel, with sand around the lower pool.
The long walk limits the demographics. Users I saw ranged from high school students to late middle age, with many more men than women. Still, the area is popular, with at least a dozen on a weekday after the start of the school year and many more on weekends in the peak of the summer. Population varies depending on day and time, of course. When a few textiles are there, they tend to stay where the trail reaches the water, and nude people move upstream a bit—but you don’t actually have to get out of sight of the textiles. Even some of the people who insist on wearing bathing suits think nothing of changing in the open.
Beginning near the lower pool, an old miners’ tunnel takes a shortcut through a spur of the mountain to a lower stretch of the river. It is best to have water shoes and a flashlight to traverse the tunnel, unless you want to fancy yourself as Gollum prowling under the Misty Mountains. I had only the water shoes, stupidly forgetting the emergency flashlight in my fanny pack, and so inched my way slowly across the uneven surface. The openings at either end shed little light into the middle of the tunnel, so I slowly felt my way across the puddles that had been undisturbed since the spring floods. I emerged downstream from the traditional nude use area, and in fact a few clothed people were visible in the distance. That part of the river was too rocky to wade back upstream, so I walked the end of the main trail with no cover-up. Later that day a trio of youngsters did it barefoot, also without a flashlight, but they had put their clothes back on by that time.
You can also have lots of fun wetting down boulders and sliding into the upper pool.
If they don’t mind the walk, this is a good site to bring a mixed group of buddies to—some nudist and some textile-compulsive.
There are toilets and garbage cans at the parking lot.
From the east side of Grass Valley, take State Highway 49 north to the South Yuba River. Park in the lot or in the unpaved turnouts lining the road for a half mile on either side of the bridge. On the far side of the river, take the marked trail to Hoyt Crossing. An unofficial sign at the end of the trail (as of my last visit in August 2005) confirms that you have reached the nude swimming area.
The site can also be reached from the wheelchair-accessible nature trail on the south side of the river. This walk is much longer but naturally very level most of the way. The final descent from the nature trail to the river, however, is rather steep and infested with poison oak. The marked Hoyt Crossing trail, in contrast, although it has ups and downs, is shorter and free of poison oak.
This is my all-time favorite river beach. Although small, the area is otherwise ideal and has a friendly mix of users.
The pool has a large boulder where you can dive (feet-first only) from two levels. It is surrounded by many flat boulders ideal for sunning and some sand and gravel. You can swim through a short, narrow channel under a boulder that forms a natural tunnel. The water is in direct sunlight during daylight, but there is always plenty of shade on several levels of flat ledges under the trees overlooking the pool.
Nearly all users are naked, but most teens and some others are clothed. Some strip down for actual swimming but wrap a towel around themselves as soon as they get out of the water. All get along with each other.
The users are of all ages, from babies to the elderly. The male to female ratio is often pretty even. In fact this is the only site I’ve been to where women sometimes seriously outnumber men. One weekday morning, due to the vagaries of which groups of friends arrived together, there were 8 women and only 2 men. One of the groups of women borrowed my Swiss Army Knife to open their wine coolers. I had naked and topless women profusely thanking me—no doubt that’s Bud Bundy’s wet dream, but it was wasted on me.
There are a number of regular users, so if you go two days in a row you may see some of the same people. Stay into the evening and someone may play the flute, or there might be a drumming circle.
You can scramble over the boulders for quite a distance in both directions from the swimming hole. Unlike at many other C-O spots, it is safe to do this in full view of the trail.
There is a trash can at the parking lot and an artesian well a little ways up the trail. There are no toilets.
From State Highway 49 on the north side of Nevada City, turn north onto North Bloomfield-Graniteville Road. At the T intersection, turn left onto Lake Vera Road. Continue as Lake Vera Road becomes Purdon Road, past the end of the pavement, all the way to the parking lot just before the river. If the parking lot is full, pull off the road on the other side of the historic wooden bridge. Walk upstream from the parking lot until you see naked people.
The end of the road is narrow and winding. You shouldn’t have any trouble in a passenger car, but I wouldn’t bring a large RV up here.
This site is rather small and not as comfortable for lounging as Purdon Crossing. I found several middle-aged men on a September weekday in 2004. They said it was very crowded during hot summer days.
The area is rather rocky. The trail from the road is short but has ups and downs.
There are no facilities that I recall.
From State Highway 49 on the north side of Nevada City, turn north onto North Bloomfield-Graniteville Road. At the T intersection, turn right to stay on North Bloomfield-Graniteville Road all the way to the river.
Many years ago I followed directions in a nudist guide and found a gravelly creek in a wide, well-shaded valley. Clothed and unclothed visitors mingled freely.
I’ve never been able to locate it again. When I’ve tried to go back, I only find a short but very steep descent into a narrow, rocky, sunless ravine with no one else around.
If this site is still in use, I’d appreciate it if someone could supply precise directions. Please write in my guestbook or send me an email.
There are no facilities.
From the east side of Grass Valley, take State Highway 49 north, crossing both the South Yuba River and the Middle Yuba River. Oregon Creek parallels the highway to the right.
There is a long hiking trail along parts of the river, and of course at least a few people walk it naked at the right times. Much of this trail is upstream from the areas I’ve described here, although one person reported starting at Bridgeport.
I haven’t freehiked the trail yet myself. To read reports from others who have, join the Naturist Hikers Yahoo group and search the messages for “Yuba”.
Copyright © 2007 by Erikag59.