Naked Hiking: Where to enjoy a hike in the buff

Naked hiking is becoming increasingly popular these days. We can think of a variety of reasons why this is happening, but the most important one is probably that being nude adds an additional dimension to enjoying nature. Hiking is known to be one of the best ways to deeply connect with your surroundings, and once you get rid of that last artificial layer (called clothes) there is absolutely nothing between you and the world around you.

 

Another reason is the growing urge for naturists to break out. To get past the high fences of the resort or the large signs of the nude beach. In a way, we could say that we are going back to traditional naturism. Back to where our forefathers started our way of living. Back into the wild.

 

EDIT: This blog post is getting some very interesting comments about naked hiking in specific parts of the world. We highly recommend you read the comments section as well (after reading the post, of course)

 

 

The pros and cons of naked hiking

We already mentioned the most important pro in the first paragraph of this blog post: Connecting with nature. There is just no better way to do this than without clothes. Another big advantage is that you give your body the chance to optimally regulate its own temperature through perspiration. Something which is definitely harder when pieces of fabric soak up your sweat. And then there is this feeling of freedom or liberation that so many naturists experience when they shed off their clothes. This only increases when you’re out into the woods.

 

Most of the cons of naked hiking are rather annoyances. By exposing all of our skin to nature, we’re also exposing it to bugs like mosquitoes. The sun rays we enjoy so much on our naked body can have a tendency to roast our skin and have us end up with a red butt if we didn’t use sunscreen carefully. There are also the thorny plants that tend to leave bloody marks on our lower legs, or anywhere else on our bodies, depending on how deep we decide to dive in. In the end, clothes were invented to protect us from nature, and in certain cases, this was quite justified.

 

 

Is it legal to hike naked?

Probably the most annoying thing about naked hiking is figuring out where you can do this without running into problems. Here comes the bad news. In most countries, public nudity is considered indecent behavior and is forbidden by law. How bad this is, depends from place to place. We imagine that if the authorities catch you hiking naked in Western Europe and you explain what you’re doing, they’ll probably just ask you to put some clothes on. In the Middle East, it’s much more likely that you’ll be facing jail time.

 

We definitely recommend you check out the local laws before going on a nude hike, but sometimes these can be a bit complicated. Spain, for example, has no law against public nudity, which makes it legal by default. Nevertheless, we’ve heard of several cases where the authorities did ask the hiker to get dressed. In the Netherlands, public nudity is forbidden except at designated places, but it’s also legal in “natural places” like forests.

 

The laws in the USA are probably the most difficult to understand, especially for a foreigner. There are many different laws on many different levels like county, state, etc. How we understood it, is that on most county and state grounds, public nudity is a big no. But on federal land, there’s no law against being naked, which technically makes naked hiking legal on those parts of the country.

 

 

Legal vs possible

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Or rather, if a naked person walks in the forest and no one is around to see it, is it still illegal? This is the attitude that most naked hikers go by. They search for natural places and hiking trails where it’s not really common to encounter others to limit their chances to run into trouble. In the end, the goal is to connect to the surrounding nature and with fewer loud humans around, this works a lot better.

 

Even when there are others around, if nobody complains about it, is it still a problem? We have two examples to illustrate this question. One time, we went on a naked hike in California on a part of the Pacific Crest Trail. This is a hiking trail that goes all the way from the Mexican border to the Canadian one and is considered one of the toughest hikes in the world. We met a number of other hikers along the way and were always greeted with pleasant curiosity about our nudity.

 

Another time, we went on a naked hike in the green outskirts around Paris. A place where many Parisian families like to escape to on sunny weekends. Whenever we saw such a family getting near, we felt the need to cover up. Just in case. This is, of course, because the mentality of a regular Parisian family on their Sunday walk is quite different than that of a hiker on the PCT who probably has already spent days in a row on the trail. So the question isn’t just whether you’ll encounter other people, but who you will encounter.

 

 

When to hike naked

If you want to give naked hiking a try, we would recommend you to avoid busy periods like weekend days or the high season. Just to limit the possibility to encounter other people. It’s also a good idea to go as a couple or in a group, as this is rather perceived by others as unharmful or creepy than if you’re just by yourself.

 

All these different laws and attitudes might feel a bit scary, so you might want to give naked hiking a try inside or in the near proximity of a naturist resort. With the growing popularity of naked hiking, many large resorts are creating hiking trails for their guests. Especially in France and in the USA, you can find resorts that have trails where you can be sure that you can hike nude without any problems.

 

Cool things are always better when shared. If you’re looking for companions for your naked hike, you want to put the 21st of June on your agenda. This is the (unofficial) Nude Hiking Day and many naturist associations around the world will organize activities on this day.

 

Let us know in the comments what your experiences of naked hiking are. Did you ever run into trouble? What are the laws and rules in your country? What tips can you give to aspiring naked hikers?

 
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23 thoughts on “Naked Hiking: Where to enjoy a hike in the buff”

  1. Dear Nick & Lins
    Thanks for your article. My wife and I are making about 20 nude hikes / year. In Cevennes (France), Jura (France) or in the Swiss & French Alps.
    First, we always do it the same way. Man and women are the best guarantee, to go not into troubles. Second, we kindly say “Hello” or “Bonjour” to other people we meet. We also avoid to walk near of the crowd, near of towns or villages.
    We did not run in any problems until today. We had one critical situation, where we crossed a very little public street in the outback und just in this time a Police car (Gendarmerie) was coming away. So we fastly runned into the forest and did a little break 😉
    But we always like the feeling, when the sun shines on our skin. Our hikes are about 3-6 hours, so we are wearing good shoes and a daypack. One of the nicest thing is to jump into a sea or a creek when it’s sunny & hot. Nude hiking is one of the most beautiful things you can do naked. You’re close to nature and the elements.

    Reply
  2. The notion that there is no law against being naked on federal lands in the USA is something of a fallacy. While there is indeed no specific federal law against nudity, there is the assimilated crimes act, 18 U.S.C. Section 13, which I’ve set out in full below. It makes acts which would be a crime under state law equally punishable under federal law. As an example, there are no general federal murder laws (there are specific ones for the president, congressmen, judges, law enforcers, but I’m not talking about those), but murder someone in Yellowstone National Park, and the feds will prosecute under this statute “assimilating” Wyoming’s murder statute.

    The reason this misunderstanding has persisted is because the general practice on federal lands falls within the notion you discussed: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Or rather, if a naked person walks in the forest and no one is around to see it, is it still illegal? This is the attitude that most naked hikers go by. They search for natural places and hiking trails where it’s not really common to encounter others to limit their chances to run into trouble. In the end, the goal is to connect to the surrounding nature and with fewer loud humans around, this works a lot better.” They will enforce state anti-nudity laws if the nudity is a problem, otherwise not.

    18 U.S.C. Section 13(a) states in full:
    Whoever within or upon any of the places now existing or hereafter reserved or acquired as provided in section 7 of this title, or on, above, or below any portion of the territorial sea of the United States not within the jurisdiction of any State, Commonwealth, territory, possession, or district is guilty of any act or omission which, although not made punishable by any enactment of Congress, would be punishable if committed or omitted within the jurisdiction of the State, Territory, Possession, or District in which such place is situated, by the laws thereof in force at the time of such act or omission, shall be guilty of a like offense and subject to a like punishment.

    Reply
      • At least in California, there is no state law against nonsexual nudity. Lewd behavior is still illegal. So if one were to go on a nude hike here, one only needs to be concerned with city or country ordinances and park regulations. That’s a very good thing because there’s no sexual offense involved and it is usually just a ticket.

        Not every county and city has antinudity ordinances. There is quite a patchwork around the state. LA city and county do not while LA Parks and Rec does. It is because of this the LA WNBR is legal and even gets a police escort. If you were to wander down the street naked and someone complained, there’s always disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, causing a traffic hazard, and if you become obstreperous, the nonjudicial mental health check. Probably win if you fight the ticket but you’ve still been harassed.

        Nudity in SF used to be legal but people actually started taking advantage of it in the gay sections of the city. Now it is only legal as part of a permitted event. (The permit doesn’t have to say anything about nudity.) There are many many permitted events in SF every year. The Bay to Breakers is the biggest one. That’s always fun to do nude.

        Not every cop has got the memo. Or may have got it but didn’t like it. There’s one particular hiker who was arrested – and released – twice in the National Forest north of LA because someone complained and the responding deputies thought the state lewd conduct law applied. Incidents like this are why I do my nude hiking on more remote trails. (There’s lots of them.)

        The state park system has an antinudity regulation. In the case of Black’s Beach, they choose not to enforce it but will do so in every other park. The general rule is that it is enforced upon complaint. They may just ask you to dress or they may write the ticket. Depends on how the ranger feels that day and probably how apologetic you were.

        In CA, there is no National Park with an antinudity regulation. Rangers are loathe to ticket for local ordinances because it is a hassle to interface with local police and courts. County sheriffs prefer not to go into National Parks because it saves time and money if they pass the law enforcement “buck” to the rangers, so to speak. So in the federal parks in remote areas, you are pretty safe going nude even if the county has such an ordinance. A couple climbed Half Dome nude fairly recently and got in no trouble for it and Saline Hot Springs is a very popular nude destination in Death Valley National Park. Joshua Tree National park has a lot of very public nude photography and I’ve seen casual nudity in campsites.

        If you were to be nude in a campground or other popular location and someone were to complain, the ranger may ticket you for disturbing the peace (that’s a general-purpose infraction all parks have) or may just ask you to get dressed. Again, they don’t want to deal with local law enforcement.

        National forests and BLM land are slightly different matters. That’s because primary law enforcement is done by the local police and not by rangers. You want to check what the county law says about it. Many counties do NOT have antinudity ordinances.

        The rangers I have spoken to do not care if you are nude as long as you aren’t in a popular location or visible to a road. Deep Creek is an example of this where you can reasonably hike a 15 mile stretch without worry. (A spectacular stretch of the PCT goes right by it.) The rangers don’t care and there’s no county ordinance involved. On BLM land they don’t care as long as you aren’t close to a developed campground or road.

        Our more remote trails are quite popular on World Naked Hiking Day. Most of the thru hikers are up in the Sierras that time of year. Lower elevations can be brutally hot then.

        Of course, there are all kinds of strategies on how not to encounter the textile impaired and if you do, how not to have it go hostile.

        https://aunatural.org/2019/08/12/get-naked-go-hiking/

        Reply
    • Hi, Bill,
      This doesn’t reflect the actual use of the law. The Federal forest authorities are not out to enforce local statutes. This is even mentioned in the rest of this Act with further reading here:
      https://www.justice.gov/archives/jm/criminal-resource-manual-667-assimilative-crimes-act-18-usc-13
      Talking with local officials in the Forest Service will get you different answers. Generally, they have better things to do than enforce state and local nudity statutes, which they may not even be aware of. As long as you cover up around the trailheads and busy areas, there are likely to have no issues.
      Further there is a case to be made, evidence, witnesses to bring to court, which is no easy feat for a busy park ranger. Add to this, hiking miles to find you in a wilderness, or sitting waiting at a trailhead for someone who may have other plans, like camping, or another trailhead is futile. It just won’t happen because it is a waste of time. Even a local authority will not go out looking for you to enforce their own laws. Also, there has to be a complaint to get them to move.
      Another factor is that consistently in inquiry and polls with regular naked hikers, only 2 to four out of one hundred will express an objection to a nude hiker. Then, the above factors diminish the risk of hiking nude to nearly nill. Maybe 20% of other hikers will not know how to react to a nude member of their own species and feel uncomfortable, but that is their silly problem to deal with, not the naturist.
      Thank-you for your information and concern, but practically speaking, it is wholly misleading and has a negative impact on the expansion and acceptance of nude hiking as a legitimate activity.

      Reply
  3. I live in the Netherlands and go on naked hikes on a regular basis. The law says you can be naked in designated areas and ‘suitable’ areas. Quiet places in nature are almost always suitable so its perfectly legal to hike naked there. The biggest issue is that almost no one knows its legal (that includes most police officers.. ) but even then most people i encounter (around 80%) don’t seem to mind it at all that much and greet you like they normally would. The remaining 20% just stare at you and say nothing. Overall acceptance is pretty decent. If more people knew it was legal and more people would do it acceptance would be even better so i do what i can to inform as much people as possible. Everyone i know (including colleguages) know about it and are also spreading the word. I also keep a blog about naked hiking (https://naaktwandeling.blogspot.com/) to help normalize naturism and normalize (public) nudity. Naked hiking is becoming ever more popular and i cant wait for the day being naked would just be another dress code.

    Reply
  4. I did nude hikes in the following countries, respecting the mentioned rules from Nick and Lin’s article: on non busy days in non busy areas, and covering up when encountering someone. Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Germany (there are 2 official nude hike areas in Harz mountain range), Austria, Slovenia, Spain, Roumania, Switzerland, Montenegro, Albania, Slovakia and Portugal. Have fun, I was sceptic too but especially the natural body temperature regulation is amazing. Besides the « regular » benefits of naturism being freedom and connection to nature. I mostly do it in forests and woods as my body is then better protected from the sun 😉

    Reply
  5. Here in the UK there are many places that are used for naked hiking. One of the most popular is around Bagby common in Sherwood Forest. I took up free hiking while the covid restrictions meant that most of the local naturist clubs were closed so I decided to try to find somewhere to excersise. I soon noticed a nearby forest on a map and went walking, whenever I came across anyone I made a point of being open and welcoming and the responce has always been reciprocated. I have walked past hiking clubs, tree gangs, cycling clubs and of course dog walkers and never had a problem. I never felt the need to cover up or hide because I think it would look like you were doing something illegal when all I am doing is going for a walk.

    Reply
  6. Hiking naked is entirely legal in the UK as long as you are not naked with the intent to cause alarm or distress and the guidance to the police says that simple nudity, with no aggravating circumstances (like overt sexual behaviour), is not an offence. The laws are slightly different between Scotland (where I live) and other parts of the UK, but with more or less the same effect.

    Now if you were to walk down the local high street naked I’m sure the police would be called and would ask you to cover up (whether they have any legal right to do so or not is another question), but if you are out in the countryside, away from the crowds you should be ok.

    Reply
    • This is the part where the law often gets blurry. Nudity is fine, but you should not offend others. The problem is that some people are sometimes offended by pure nudity and then it’s up to the authorities to decide whether what you did was actually offending. That’s why we always recommend to stay away from the crowds, even though it’s legal.

      Reply
      • Just to clarify something about the law on this point (offending people) and guidence provided to police officers and call handlers. The College Of Policing published a document which is publically available on their website. It explains to police officers and call handlers how to respond to complaints about public nudity. Near the end of the document is a flow chart for easy guidance, the relevant part being the following:

        PASSIVE BEHAVIOURS IN PUBLIC

        Sunbathing, walking, cycling, swimming, gardening, home maintenance, etc.

        Provide advice

        If they are just being naked in public, it will be lawful activity

        Explain to caller that no offences are being committed

        No police action necessary

        It continues by advising responding officers:

        IS THERE A CLEAR SEXUAL MOTIVATION TO THE SUBJECT’S ACTIONS?

        No

        Has the person been ‘disorderly’ and caused another person ‘actual’ harassment, alarm or distress (as opposed to considering the likelihood of this or the complainant finding it personally distasteful or offensive)?

        No

        It will normally be appropriate to take no further action

        Advise complainant

        The key point I’m making here is the part in brackets which effectively means it doesn’t matter if the complainant is offended simply because they find nudity distasteful, it’s basically tough, they have no valid reason for complaint on that basis and you don’t have to worry about offending those sort of people.

        Reply
  7. I wouldn’t call the Pacific Crest Trail one of the hardest in the world.

    Hard, definitely, but mostly due to distance and the fact that it goes across the highest point in the continental US. The Continental Divide Trail is considerably tougher–longer distances between resupply points and rather than one super-high point it’s got a lot of travel at very high locations.

    If you’re going more than a few hours into the wilderness there is the reality of having to answer the call of nature out there–and you often can never be sure some other group isn’t going to stumble on you. Likewise, there’s always a chance you stumble on someone else answering the call of nature. This will go a long way towards filtering out those who are going to get seriously upset about seeing someone naked.

    Reply
    • Probably correct about that. The CDT isn’t even fully mapped yet. There are parts where you’re not hiking a trail but rather trying to figure out a route. But the PCT is still definitely one of the more demanding long trails in the US.

      I live about ten miles from it and sections of it are my favorite nude hiking locations because of the scenery.

      Reply
  8. Nudity in public places such as the countryside, forests and beaches is becoming more mainstream in England where it is legal, whether a designated naturist zone or not. More and more wild swimmers prefer skinny dipping and naked hiking is also becoming more common.

    Reply
  9. After enjoying some fantastic experiences while visiting the excellent El Templo del Sol in Spain, opportunities for nude hiking are now my first consideration when considering where to go on a naturist holiday.
    ‘Wild’ hiking (ie, outside the confines of a resort) is possible at various naturist sites, to varying degrees, and another good place to try it is Domaine de la Sabliere, in southern France, which is close to other naturist campsites, so no-one is much concerned or shocked if you walk around the area without clothes.
    In my experience, however, nude hiking isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem on paper. Even in Spain, where attitudes are relaxed and you won’t be breaking any laws, stepping out in only your shoes does call for some boldness.
    On one early morning walk at El Templo Del Sol, I was heading downhill to the beach on a public road when I spotted a police car, coming up the hill, and with no escape, I had no option but to continue walking down. I need not have worried because they simply drove past me; they had only been concerned with checking that nobody was camping overnight on the beach – because that was illegal.
    I have also been on an organised walk with a nude hiking group here in the UK, but never felt quite relaxed or confident enough to enjoy it properly, especially during several encounters with clothed walkers.
    Most accounts of nude hiking usually include a footnote to say that when you do encounter clothed people, they are nearly always tolerant, accepting and sometimes even admiring and jealous, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take some bravery to be nude in that situation, and you are bound to feel some pressure from being out of your comfort zone.
    I think the bottom line is: no matter what the rights or wrongs of nude hiking, or whether you have the law on your side or not, or how tolerant the majority of people are, it does call for confidence or bravery, or whatever you want to call it.
    But the rewards are fabulous. It really is the most wonderfully liberating activity, and it can feel like stepping into an idyllic world where clothes are optional.
    I didn’t consider I had had the full naturist experience until I did it.

    Reply
  10. Pretty much most of the activity I do when I visit my favourite beaches can be classed as a hike. I walk many mile, sometimes 10 or more miles. One of my favourite venues has two beaches adjacent to a forest and it is possible to walk 10 or more miles using both the beach and forest tracks. Non of the area is officially naturist, but is known for naturist use over many decades.

    As I have stated in various other comments in other topics around your blog, public nudity is legal in the UK, particularly in England & Wales. Police and Police call handlers are instructed now to advise any complainant that if the nudeperson is only being nude and not doing anything lewd, indecent or threatening, that it is lawful activity, and that police should take no action.

    Reply
  11. Legal v. possible is a very important consideration. Another consideration is that most of the antinudity laws include a phrase about intent. Wording like “willfully” and “intent to shock or affront.” These things don’t apply if you are remote enough.

    If nobody sees you, it is always legal. If somebody sees you and doesn’t complain, it is still legal. If you are remote enough that it is impractical to complain, it is still practical.

    The fact is that the more remote one is, the less likely to run into people who might care. There are also a few areas out here where nudity is fairly common and it simply doesn’t matter. One reason why I do my hiking in the backcountry rather than the front country. Dayhikers and families rarely get out that far.

    Reply
  12. I live in Alaska and hike nude often on nice summer legality’s are blurry but in practice it’s easy to hike above the tree line which is quite low here. You can usually see people coming from a large distance and simply move out of sight or cover up. Additionally it’s a very sparse population so although many people are very outdoor oriented there just aren’t that many people to come across. Hiking around the slopes of the local ski area is my favorite summer activity. I also fly my light aircraft out to remote locations and happily wonder around naked with just nature around me.

    Reply
  13. Even where nudity is perfectly legal, you could be in for serious harassment. Like this guy:
    https://socalnaturist.org/campfire/nudehiker.html

    There are people who think that if someone on the trail gets offended, “that’s their problem.” I think that’s rude and makes for bad PR. I realize that I can’t know what is going on in another person’s head. I’ll do a quick coverup with my hat and give the other person lots of space to pass.

    As a frequent nude hiker, I’ve had enough encounters where the result was silence to figure that there are people who object but don’t necessarily voice it. In comparison, as a textile hiker, almost all encounters at least include a smile and a “G’day!” and often a discussion of the weather or trail conditions.

    I have my doubts about asking freehikers how textiled folks respond to nude encounters. Those numbers would vary wildly depending on the country, the state, the locality, who happened to be polled, and even on which trail you were talking about. How the question was asked would matter. You’d get the most responses from where nude hiking was more common and that would be places where the risks of nude hiking were naturally lower. For example, there are probably dozens of freehikers who use the trails around Deep Creek Hot Springs and NEVER encounter hostility specifically because it is a nude-friendly location. Skews the data set. Tells you nothing about trails in general.

    Asking the freehikers themselves does not tell you anything about the attitudes of textile hikers in general. Freehikers will be biased in interpreting encounters and encounters are so few you’re just compiling anecdotes. Create a survey. Make the questions simple and be careful not to lead respondents to any particular answer. Pick a popular trail, set up a table at the trailhead, and attempt to survey every hiker that came by. Bury the nude hiking question among a bunch of other questions about trail use. Do that on 20 different popular trails in 20 different states. Then I’d take the results seriously.

    Every state has a law concerning lewd conduct and law enforcement’s assumption is always that nudity may also include lewd conduct. Most reports of indecent exposure are NOT nudists. They are usually males using nudity for sexual gratification. So even if simple nudity is legal, the police will often respond. Especially in the US.

    Does the reporting person imagine you are behaving lewdly even if you are not?

    All this is not to say we should cower in our closets when it comes to freehiking. But it is like hiking in an area with rattlesnakes. You can hike a thousand days and ten thousand miles without being bitten but you are still a fool if you don’t take basic precautions. You can drive a lifetime without needing a seatbelt but you should still wear one. Prudence ought not to interfere with enjoyment.

    Check your state and local laws. Google is your friend.

    Understand your local culture. Oregon ain’t Mississippi. PCT through Deep Creek Hot Springs isn’t the PCT through Campo.

    Check the trailhead for fellow hikers.

    Use a coverup until you can judge the nature of an encounter. A hat is good enough. Some people go with a velcro wrap. Trying to get a pair of shorts on quickly is clumsy and slow, at best.

    Step off the trail to let others pass. Grant them personal space. Let them initiate any contact. If they say anything, reply by saying that you didn’t think there was anyone else on the trail and go from there.

    Hike very early before anyone else starts or later after everyone has returned. Or at night.

    Hike deep in the wild if possible. Avoid hunting season.

    Use trails that are less popular or not well known and not prone to boy or girl scouts or church groups. Midweek is your best opportunity. Grownups are at work and kids in school.

    Single men are assumed to be predators. Excercise greater courtesy and double down on isolation.

    Reply

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