Nude sunbathing is nothing new, but nude hiking?
You’d be surprised to learn that it’s more prevalent than expected – in Dankerode, Germany there is a dedicated 18km nude hiking trail. And the airy activity is more common than you’d imagine on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. There’s even a group of nude climbers who make an annual pilgrimage to Joshua Tree National Monument, redefining the traditional definition of crack climbing.
If you’ve felt the urge to bare all to Mother Nature, you are not alone. But before you go, plan ahead. There’s etiquette for naked hiking – you don’t want to end up with an embarrassing mug shot! So it’s a good thing to know the rules before you strip down.
Protect Your Feet
For the total au natural experience, you’d hike, climb, sunbathe, or run without shoes, but that’s hard on your feet. We recommend a solid pair of hiking shoes or flip flops to protect your feet from rocks, thorns, and other sharp objects.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of nude beaches, resorts, spas and organized events across the U.S. While there’s plenty of opportunity in the backcountry to do some birthday suit sunbathing the simplest way to go natural is to find a local nude beach, resort, hot springs or event. In fact, you can even tap into the Clothing Optional Network for ideas on your next vacation spot. For example, Oregon has the oldest clothing optional in resort west of the Mississippi– Squaw Mountain Resort (SMR) in the Oregon Cascades was established in 1933 and offers not only a lake for swimming, but a full rec room. Ping pong anyone?
Avoid the Public
In most state and national forests and wilderness areas, there’s no policy against hiking around in the buff if you are in the backcountry. Plan on wearing clothes at the trailhead, but as long you aren’t in danger of frightening bus loads of school children, you can strip down once you are away from the parking lot.
Most “developed recreational sites” have laws against the Full Monty, so avoid campgrounds.
The important thing is to be respectful of others, especially if you are on public land. If you pass people on the trail, smile and say hi. But if your nakedness is making someone uncomfortable, grab a towel, cover up, and head for less crowded territory.
Study up on Poisonous Plants
Clothes not only protect you from the sun, but from pesky bugs and poisonous plants. If you are planning on some au natural hiking, do some research in advance. In addition to the Big 3 (poison ivy, sumac and oak), there are stinging nettles, leadwort and baby’s breath and a host of other plants that can cause nasty rashes. Just in case, pack some Benadryl.
Venture out in the Early Morning or Evening
Trails, cliffs and lakes tend to be less crowded in the early mornings and evenings. Plus, you will lessen your chance of getting sunburned. Avoid crowds by having an early or late start. Slather on the sunblock and pack UPF-blocking apparel for when the rays get too harsh.
Did you know that you’ll get dehydrated more quickly when you’re naked? Pack plenty of water and food.
While it is nice to be totally free of man-made gadgets and apparel while you are hiking, consider toting a small backpack. Fanny packs are also a great option as they leave your shoulders free to soak in the sun. You’ll have a place to stash bug spray, sunblock, and a layer in case you run into other hikers or bad weather. Sunscreen is essential if you don’t want to burn areas that normally don’t see the sun.
Safety in Numbers
Consider hiking in a mixed group. A single naked man on the trail, climb or skin tracks can be somewhat alarming, but a group of men and women has more of a festive, club-like atmosphere.
Don’t forget that June 21st is Nude Hiking Day. If you’re considering going starkers you’ll be in good company.