Boyles Swimming Hole

Pub date January 5, 2010
WriterGary Hanauer

Rating: C

Also as Dead Man’s Hole, Boyles mostly draws suited swimmers to a site that’s further up Big River from Lilies Beach and just east of Mendocino Woodlands State Park. But a few skinny-dippers also hike or bike to Boyles, which even has a great rope swing. Take the trail that begins at Lilies. The crowd here is a little noisier and more social than the more laid-back types found at Lilies.

One nagging problem is that although access is blocked to recreational vehicles by fallen trees, “motorcycles are still an issue,” says Stephanie Anderson, park manager of the nearby Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association. “Motorcyclists are finding a way through any inch [of road] they can.”


Legal status:

Part of the Big River unit of Mendocino Headlands State Park. A park plan says that swimming at Boyles is “currently not restricted,” a possible indication that nudity may be allowed to continue.


How to find it:

Follow directions to Lilies Beach. Park where the dirt road ends at Big River and, turning left, parking where you see other cars pulled over. “When you exit your vehicle, you’ll be facing a yellow gate with a bridge viewable behind it,” tells Brian, a local resident. “Take the trail that starts there and stay on it until you arrive at Boyles.” For most walkers, the hike from the Lilies area and the Mendocino Woodlands Camp property will be quick. “I can walk there in 10 minutes,” says Anderson. Boyles is east and slightly south of Lilies. For location, see the right side of this map or go here.


The beach:

A nice deep swimming hole with a rope swing.


The crowd:

Most of the several to dozen or so visitors on an average day will probably be suited. And on some days, the scene is downright crowded. “There’s been a ton of people down at Boyles,” said Anderson. “There’s more beer drinking and more trash there than at Lilies,” says Jeanne Coleman, education director of the Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association. On days when Boyles isn’t busy, a few skinny-dippers can be found plunging into the cool, invigorating water.


Same as Lilies, plus motorcycles on trail (see above) and a rowdier crowd.