Nude Hiking: Logistics, Tips, Legality, and Other Info

Looking to shed your clothes and hike au naturel, but don’t know where to start? Our guide has all the answers you need to get out there and feel the breeze like you may never have before!

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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For many, hitting the trail naked is unfathomable: ‘What about the insects?’ ‘What about other people?’ ‘Are you not scared you’ll get arrested?’

While these are all valid questions, this type of hiking is a fun, natural way of connecting with our wild landscapes and others who enjoy them, too.

Like cooking or rambling about the house naked, there is a special kind of freedom to being in your birthday suit. Add that (or strip it from?) to your hike, and this might be the freest you’ll ever be!

Key Takeaways: The Naked Truth

  • Is it Legal? – Yes and no; consult your local law enforcers
  • Join a Group – Despite popular belief, nudity with others is much more fun
  • Enjoy National Hike Naked Day – Yep, it exists – June 21, every year!

Hiking in the Nude: All You Need to Know

Hiking sans clothing isn’t exactly the norm, nor is it for everyone. However, if you spend most of your time walking on trails, and also happen to cook and lounge around the house naked, then you may be asking yourself how to fuse these two things. 

The answer? Hiking in the buff. 

Below, we’re going to answer all of the most commonly asked questions by novice or aspiring ass-out hikers.

Naked hiker at bottom of a waterfall
Being naked in nature doesn’t have to be solely done near waterfalls and lakes.

Is Nude Hiking Legal?

This is a tricky question . . . but, in short, it largely depends on where you hike.

Being nude itself is not illegal on federal land or in national parks. As long as your intention of public nudity isn’t malicious, devious, or done with the intention to cause or satisfy sexual arousal in someone else, then you’re acting in accordance with federal law. 

So, if you’re isolated in the backcountry and opt for an unclothed hike and you know you won’t see anyone, you’re in the clear. 

However, complications quickly arise when you consider local laws. Every national forest, grassland, Bureau of Land Management area, and private land has its own laws. In many cases, despite federal laws not banning public nudity, these very well might. 

Our suggestion? Do your research. 

Naked hiker walking toward a mountain
Always check the local rules and regulations before you make any other preparations. (Photo by Rick McCharles / CC BY 2.0)

Call the forest service bureau of the place you plan to go hike to see if nudity is permitted. If they grant permission, try to get a physical record, too. If you get caught, by doing this, there is less chance of running into legal troubles with the local law enforcement officers. 

Note, all local officials will assess on a case-by-case basis.

Hiking in Your Birthday Suit: Why Do It?

It might be cliché, but leaving your clothes behind and opting to walk ‘au natural is a great way to feel the breeze between your cheeks and connect with nature.

Just like skinny dipping, hiking naked is a much more sensorial experience – especially in the rain. It gives you the chance to connect with parts of your body that are normally clad beneath layers of technical tops and Gore-Tex pants. 

If you’re staying on classic, popular trails, we recommend wearing proper footwear. However, when you stop for a break, take off your backpack and those shoes and feel the earth beneath your feet. Now, your sense of touch from head to toe is engaged. 

Naked hiker taking sandals off to feel feet on the ground
For full immersion in the process remember to take those shoes off when you can!

If you’re already a nude trail enthusiast, then you know how thrilling it is to simply walk naked! Just like taking a cold plunge, it rejuvenates and revitalizes your senses, all the while keeping you calmer. 

Lastly, while these hikes are a way to gain confidence in yourself and get more in tune with your body, they are also a great way to connect with other like-minded folks. Many naked hikers opt to walk together. This way, the ‘esprit de corps’ of the hiking trail is elevated and everyone is on the same wavelength.

Stripping off on the Trail: The Drawbacks

With the benefits come the drawbacks. 

Since you’re not wearing any clothing, your skin is exposed to the sun, bugs, bushes, and thorns. This increases your chances of burning, getting poison ivy or oak, or having to pull ticks out of places you can hardly reach. 

Many thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail know of the unspoken ritual of hitting the trail naked on June 21. While this is a perfect opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, it can also feel like a load of peer pressure. If you’re not comfortable being naked or seeing so many naked bodies, that’s ok! You can always hike alone, start early, or take a rest day. 

Hiker naked near Mammoth Lakes, California
If you want to keep some items of clothes on, that’s also a perfectly reasonable choice! (Photo by Kai Schreiber / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Confrontation on the trail. This is a big one. Despite choosing a remote trail, you may well come across someone who hates every single thing about public nudity. If a rude hiker approaches you, gets aggressive, or threatens you, stay calm, put clothes on, and try to allay the situation. 

Lastly, while you can take all the necessary precautions to ensure you have permission to hike without your clothing, local authorities have the final say in whether or not what you are doing is OK. The chances are that it is, but do know that you run a risk. 

Tips for Hiking in the Nude

It may seem that with fewer clothes means less planning. However, if you’re going for this type of hike, there are a lot of things to consider so that everyone can enjoy the trail.

Remember, although nudity might not bother you, it can really disturb others. Trails are for everyone. Carry a towel or skirt that is easy to access in case of any approaching hikers. You can easily slide on a skirt or wrap the towel around your waist. 

Naked hiker sitting with sleeping bag wrapped round her
Have a towel or blanket close to hand to cover up quickly if need be.

Since your body will be more exposed and you’ll have no clothes on the trail to offer protection, consider a wide enough route that has no prickly bushes, poison ivy, or long grass . . . you don’t want to be pulling ticks out from your remote body parts. This being said, the woods can offer more protection from the sun. As always, bring sunscreen and bug spray. 

Whether you’re a woman or a man, don’t go au naturel alone. Going in a group is a great way to build confidence, avoid direct confrontations with other hikers on the trail, and stay safe. 

Some group hikes are organized, with permissions obtained in advance. These groups may often send a clothed hiker ahead to warn oncoming hikers that a group of naked hikers is approaching. 

We’ve said it once, but we’ll say it again – hiking trails are for everyone! 

Solo hiker walking on trail through mountains
A solo clothed hiker may be sent out ahead to pre-warn other hikers of incoming nudity!

When and Where to Hike Naked

Remote trails in remote locations are your best bet. If you plan on heading to one of the national parks, then do not go on the busy trails. Avoid public places so as not to run into children, families, or big crowds of people. 

Nude hiking in the early morning is best to avoid the big crowds that come later, too. However, if you arrive at the trailhead and see plenty of minivans and cars, then save the naked hike for another day and put your clothes back on. 

There’s a National Naked Hiking Day?!

June 21, summer solstice.

Naked Hiking Day is an unofficial celebration. Whether it’s in Europe, the United States, Scandinavia, Asia, or Canada, hikers all over the world gather in groups to celebrate the longest day of the year.

Many Appalachian Trail thru-hikers know NHD as a tradition and rite of passage, too. 

Trail marker for the Appalachian Trail
For many Appalachian Trail hikers, NHD is a rite of passage!

Well, Time to Get Naked!

Hiking naked is one of the greatest sensations in the world. Connecting with nature in its rawest form, you start to feel, taste, smell, and hear new elements that were once just out of reach. 

Remember, before heading out into nature and packing away all your clothes in your backpack, make sure you plan ahead. If you’re heading into a national park, opt for a quieter hiking trail rather than everyone’s favorite hikes. Consult and familiarize yourself with the laws of your jurisdiction. 

And, remember, just because you are naked doesn’t mean there won’t be clothed hikers on the trail. Treat every hiker with kindness and respect.

If you liked this post or know someone who is keen for a naked hike, feel free to share this article! Drop any questions or comments in the box below.

Last update on 2023-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Alexandre Marceau is a French-Canadian writer, editor and keen mountaineer based in Edinburgh, UK.

During his undergrad in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, at the confluence of the Saint-François and Massawippi Rivers, he discovered that literary timelines, much like veins, carry the timeless stories that shape the regional identities of place. As a result, in 2019, he co-founded yolk, a Canadian literary journal for which he serves as Fiction Editor.

Alexandre’s work has appeared in various journals, newspapers and websites in Canada and Scotland, and he is the Creatives Editor for the Scottish Mountaineering Press. His time is divided between climbing, trail-running, snowboarding and writing.

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