Eel River

Pub date January 5, 2010
WriterGary Hanauer

Rating: C

Along the electrifyingly beautiful Eel River, there are at least seven holes used for clothing-optional swimming including this one, which is mainly visited by local residents. It’s located on the south fork of the river, near the town of Pillsbury.


Legal status:

Part of Mendocino National Forest.


How to find it:

From San Francisco, head north on Highway 101, passing Santa Rosa and Ukiah, to Route 20. Take Route 20 east about five miles to the Potter Valley cutoff on your left and follow it northeast past the town of Potter Valley, north of Upper Lake. Follow the signs to Lake Pillsbury. After you climb a ridge and begin to go back down, follow the left fork in the road. Access to the south fork of the Eel is from this road, some 10 miles south of Van Arsdale Reservoir and Cape Horn Dam. The reservoir and dam are south of Pillsbury. Consult a good map.

The beach:

Small but comfortable, a good spot to soak up a few rays next to a deep swimming hole.


The crowd:

Just a few bathers in the buff, plus suited swimmers too.



Increased trash; directions could be improved.