There are countless benefits of hiking in the great Pacific Northwest. I have offered a plethora of highly valuable insight into the art of hiking in my Ultimate Hiking Guide, including what to wear, where to hike, and how to thrive on the trail and off.
The freedom that comes from hiking a great trail is thrilling and invigorating. But there is a way to take the sensation one step further, and that is nude hiking.
I know! I know. As women we are not exactly excited to unleash our assets in a public area. There are a lot of very reasonable concerns around public nudity and the implications that can come from such a thing. But we aren’t talking about strutting down 5th in our birthday suits, this is the great outdoors!
So much of society revolves around rigid structure and following the rules. It becomes claustrophobic and tense, and I can say from my vast experience as a master hiker, that there is no greater way to shirk the restraints of rigid society than to hike a long, dusty, sunny trail wearing nothing but the pack on my back.
The benefits of hiking are countless, and nude hiking allows for even greater positive impact on the body and mind.
At One With Nature
Studies have shown that as little as two hours spent in nature can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, enhance immune system functions, improve mood, and raise self esteem! Clothing is one more barrier between your body and nature, and eliminating that obstruction allows the hiker the closest connection to nature as possible.
Positive Body Image
A woman’s body is more powerful than we ever give it credit for, and so much time is spent hiding it beneath layers of fabric for either fashion or modesty’s sake. But I say to hell with that! Accepting and appreciating the body we have is imperative to a healthy outlook on life. The sooner we accept that our bodies are perfectly imperfect, the better our mental outlook will become. Our bodies carry us up that trail, let the sun shine on them a bit!
Speaking of Sunshine…
Being naked in the sun is incredibly intoxicating. It boosts mood, Vitamin D intake, and can even help detoxify the skin. Excess amounts of sweat can be released through the pores when hiking, and often that sweat sticks to clothing, so even when one is wearing sweat-wicking fabric, the body can react to inflammation due to inflamed hair follicles, leading to disgusting rashes.
Think about how your lungs feel when you step outside and take a deep, fresh breath. Hiking nude allows your skin to take a deep intake of sunshine, allowing it to breathe in all of the positive benefits of sun. Trust me when I say this, getting drunk on the sun is almost as enjoyable as getting guttered on a robust, full-bodied sulfite-free red…almost…
And Oh, the Thrill!
There is an unarguable thrill that comes from being naked in the wilderness. And it isn’t the idea of being caught, because as one hikes the trail in the buff it is easy to forget that other people even exist. The connection to self and nature is so prevalent, the most visceral sensation that stands out is the pure freedom of body and mind.
That’s not to say there won’t be others on the trail, and that is a risk each nude hiker must face for themselves, but ultimately it is the bond between woman and earth that offers the freedom everyone should experience at least once.
Will I End Up in Jail… Naked?
Please… they’ll let you put your clothes on first.
But in all seriousness, it is reasonable to worry about the legalities of hiking naked. Some people may assume that nude hikers are out for nefarious reasons. It is important to keep in mind that other hikers may be surprised and uncomfortable to see a naked person on the trail, and that hiking is about being aware of one’s surroundings and considerate of your fellow hiker’s feelings.
With that in mind, the federally owned U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does not expressly prohibit nudity. The separate states and counties, however, may have their own laws on the matter. There is the possibility that nude hiking may lead to a citation or warning from a park ranger, and in some municipalities there are direct anti-nudity ordinances that will increase the likelihood and severity of punishment.
It is highly recommended that the nude hiker take the time to contact the public lands office responsible for the location of their chosen trail. This is an easy way to secure confidence in your nude hiking experience and is not a step that should be ignored.
My interactions with authorities while nude hiking have been limited, but the possibility is always there. I wouldn’t call it a threat per se, but it is important to keep in mind that nature doesn’t completely belong to the hiker, and it is better to be safe than risk an expensive ticket or embarrassing naked interaction with a power tripping park ranger.
Be Prepared To Avoid Hairy Situations
As with any outdoor activity, a smart hiker will have a good deal of situational awareness. The fact that you, hiker, will have familiarized yourself with my Ultimate Hiking Guide, you should have a strong list of packing essentials for a successful hike.
When nude hiking, there are a few additional things to consider. Even fully clothed, a hiker will face adversity, but when she has no barrier between the body and the elements, it is obvious that you should be prepared for the hairiest situation.
Of course this should be at the top of the list when planning for a nude hike. The same sun that beams Vitamin D into the skin also shoots deadly rays of ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light (you pale-skinned folk know exactly what I’m talking about all to well). The green nude hiker may forget sunscreen, or may make the mistake of only applying sed sunscreen on the covered areas of the body. Grave mistake. It isn’t likely that you will be driving to your hiking trail in the buff, so remember to take the time to apply sunscreen in all cracks and crevices upon arrival.
Pro-tip: Discretion is welcomed when applying sunscreen – find a place that others can’t look on as you rub the lotion on your skin.
Always be on the lookout for poison oak, poison ivy, and stinging nettles. When hiking fully clothed these nuisances can be avoided by careful placement of fabric. But I assume you are smart enough to know that the less clothing you wear, the greater the likelihood of interacting with these pesky plants.
All it takes is a slight brush up against the urushiol – the compound found within poison oak and ivy that easily attaches to the skin and causes a painful and unsightly oily, pustulant rash for up to two weeks after exposure. I’ve had to explain some of my rashes on several occasions on first dates… Hmm, actually… maybe that’s why there wasn’t a second date…
Mosquitos in the Pacific Northwest are no joke. The mosquito season starts mid-April and lasts through October. This is peak nude hiking time and any person with bare skin will be an object of painful affection for mosquitos seeking fresh blood.
I hiked near Crater Lake in July and had to breathe through my nose due to the excess of mosquito clouds threatening my every gasp. Mosquitoes will attach themselves to any exposed skin, so assume that a nude hiker will be a buffet for the pests. It is recommended that every hiker carry a strong bottle of DEET.
Listen, maybe it wasn’t Sasquatch, but I did stumble upon some hairy beast touching himself under bush cover. Women must be aware of the implications of nude hiking where… these “Sasquatch’s”…may be present.
As women, we are never really able to let our guards down, and it is important to keep our eyes open and wits about us when hiking in the nude. Take it from this master hiker, pepper spray barely weighs a thing (I wore brass knuckles once, but god damn they’re surprisingly heavy), and it works against hairy beasts of all kinds.
Don’t Forget the Essentials
Remember, nude hiking is still hiking. The longer the hike, the greater the need to pack essential gear. What our bodies lack in clothing, they make up for by carrying a backpack with the necessary items for a successful hike.
Your body still needs about one liter of water for every two hours of hiking. While nude hiking may not be a great time for an overnight hike, it will still require an appropriate amount of hydration as well as any snacks that one may desire.
Nude hiking adds greater risk of scrapes and bites, so be sure to pack ample first aid supplies:
- Neosporin – for minor wounds
- Bug spray – apply frequently on the trail
- Anti-Chafing cream – trust me, thighs rub together, backpack straps cut into armpits, it’s better to avoid chafing with a good cream or stick application.
- High SPF sunscreen – remember that sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, especially when sweating heavily, as is likely during those tough parts of the trail.
- Footwear – Your body may be naked, but your feet and ankles should be fully protected (even though walking barefoot through the forest was way more comfortable than heels could ever be). Make sure your hiking boots are fully broken in and that the socks are the appropriate thickness to avoid blistering and bruising.
- Clothes – Yes, you will need to cover up eventually! As liberating as nude hiking is, you should always keep clothes in your bag. If there is a run-in with authority or when you find yourself in an area with other hikers, it is important to have clothing at the ready to cover up respectfully.
- Optional – A hydro flask filled with a crisp vegan white wine poured over some ice, and a pack of American Spirits just in case you get tired of inhaling all that nature.
Strength in Numbers
Nude hiking allows one to embrace their body in the wild. There is no shame in the body or in the desire to go outside of societal norms to experience nature to its fullest.
That said, it is advisable to find a group of like-minded hikers who enjoy the same freedoms, as overall it is far more disarming to see a group of naked people as opposed to just one. This aids in both the normalization of seeing nudity on the trail, as well as providing a certain protective barrier against those who may not understand nude hiking.
There are many groups in the Pacific Northwest who gather for nude hiking. These groups can be found on specific Meetup sites and include everything from Portland, Oregon Nude Sunbathers to High Desert Hikers in Bend, Oregon.
Basically, there is no shortage of hikers who dare to go bare in the Pacific Northwest. I think people are more likely to give a double glance at a Texan tourist wearing a tube top and kitten heels on the trail than a nude hiker. Both are sights to be seen.
National Nude Hiking Day
Perhaps you are ready to give nude hiking a try, but would like a little fanfare in doing so.
June 21st is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, but also is the lesser known (unofficial) National Nude Hiking Day! For those who are longtime converts of nude hiking, this is a day to celebrate the liberation from the binding pressures of society and embrace the ultimate freedom of being naked in the wild.
Keep in mind that National Nude Hiking Day does not offer a free pass to go nude – all previously mentioned restrictions are still enforced in the areas they apply to, but you may just see another naked wanderer or two along the trail that day, ready to give a nod in solidarity.
If you have always wanted to walk on the wild side, there’s no day like today. Nude hiking gives the courageous person a chance to fully embrace their body in nature, and the ability to transcend the limitations that are presented in day to day life.
It is imperative to plan ahead and be prepared, but you are now knowledgeable on all of the important matters that are required of a master hiker. Ultimately nude hiking elevates the sport of hiking to a new level of risk and high reward.
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