The sun finally makes a lasting appearance, surrounded by California poppies and wild mustard as I reach the elusive destination of Red Rock Nude Beach just south of Stinson Beach in coastal Marin County. Perched atop Highway 1, the parking lot, which feels more like a vista point or turnout over the rocky cliffs, hosts a trailhead that leads down a steep and stretching path of butterfly-covered angelica and blue thistle plants.
Enormous, jagged rocks lie out between the last step of the trail and the lapping waves of the Pacific, prompting questions about the comfort of being naked on such uninviting seats. Further snooping along the rocky beach leads to boulders with narrow corridors that lead, with much relief, to softer and sandier shores. An old, naked man sits, slightly orange and rusting in the now bright sun. A younger, long-haired man, complete with joint in hand, makes his way onto the beach and lights up, bare ass exposed to the sea.
Several hours of surprising relaxation and comfort sprawled out naked on rocks bring on a glorious realization that the relentless, cold and depressing winter is finally over. Clothes back on, cheeks sun-kissed and grinning, the car rolls back through the Marin hills to the cloud-covered Rouge et Noir Marin French Cheese Co. Brie, salami, baguettes and mango-pepper jelly are eaten next to a quiet duck pond, ending a naked, dreamy and magical day in Marin.
Red Rock Beach, according to the San Francisco Bay Guardian, can be reach thusly: From Mill Valley, go north on Highway 1, following signs to Stinson Beach. Some 5.6 miles north of Muir Beach and 1 mile south of Stinson, look for milepost 11.3 and the dirt parking lots on either side of the road. If you reach Stinson, you've gone too far. 7500 Red Hill Road, Petaluma. 707.762.6001.—D.B.
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