Hiking Naked Without Clothes

We naturists like to say things like “There’s no feeling of freedom quite like being out in nature in our natural condition of nudity!” And that’s the truth. But the naked truth of the matter is that there is an even greater sense of freedom than we often experience in nature. Typically, when we’re naked in the great outdoors, that is, away from home, nude resort, or some other nude-friendly safe haven, we usually have some type of clothing, a sarong, or something tucked away in a pack, over a shoulder, or otherwise with us. This practice gives us a sort of “safety net”, since we know that even though we’re happily nude, we can quickly cover ourselves, should we unexpectedly feel the need to do so.

That greater sense of freedom can be experienced, if we can muster the confidence to leave everything that could be a cover-up behind us, and venture forth into the natural world with nothing but “us”.

My first experiences with this commitment to naked freedom occurred at Deep Creek Hot Springs, in California’s San Bernardino National Forest. The area is, and for decades has been known as a nude-friendly environment. Both clothed and nude hikers roam the trails, soak in the hot spring pools, and relax along the creek. Even some of the clothed visitors will get naked once they’re at the springs, to enjoy the hot mineral water and cold creek water in their skin. Only a few hikers actually hike in nude from one of the adjacent trail heads, and almost all of these will still carry some form of cover-up with them, just in case.

During one of my early visits to Deep Creek, I was camped at the Bowen Ranch, about three miles, and a thousand foot elevation loss from the hot springs. The ranch was also nude-friendly, and I was comfortably nude around camp, as well as on the trails. I was one of the few that hiked nude from the trail head, and I also hiked the adjacent section of the Pacific Crest Trail nude, as well as all over the riparian zone along the creek. But, even though I was comfortable being nude all weekend long, I still had a pair of shorts in my day pack when I left camp.

One evening at camp, I decided that I’d step…a lot of steps…out of my comfort zone. I’d already been nude since arriving the day before, and I’d been hiking nude and enjoying the springs and creek all day. Back at camp, I’d ditched my pack and other gear, rested a while, and enjoyed a couple of cold beers. That may have boosted my confidence a bit. The sun had gone below the western mountains, but there was still plenty of light in the open desert.  Totally naked, barefoot, and with nothing but a water canteen, I set out for the hot springs. By the time I’d left the ranch and walked about a quarter mile, I came to the Forest Service road that separated the upper desert from the side canyon that led down to Deep Creek, I was feeling a little unsure of my decision. From that point on, there was one narrow trail leading along the exposed slope. The trail offered absolutely nothing to hide behind. I’d be in clear view from hundreds of yards away, and anyone…EVERYONE…that I met along the trail would be able see every inch of me, and there wouldn’t be anything I could do about it. With only a slight hesitation, I stepped through the trail gateway and padded down the sandy trail.

By the time I reached the crest of the final descent to the creek, I’d already met a few hikers. I was the only one that was nude. Nothing more than casual greetings were exchanged as we passed on the trail. Still feeling very naked, I reached the top of that final hill. Another few hikers were almost to the top, so I waited to let them pass before starting down the steep trail. One young man, fully clothed, sweating, head down, was plodding up the hill. When he was right in front of me, he stopped suddenly, very obviously looking me up and down a couple times, from my bare feet to my face, with eyes wide and an expression of surprise. I thought this would be the moment I’d been dreading…a confrontation with an outraged clothed hiker…and I was totally incapable of covering my naked self! Then, he said it…loudly…”You hiked all the way from Bowen Ranch down here…like THAT??? YOU ROCK, DUDE!!!!” His smile showed his extreme admiration, and my confidence soared! With a friendly goodbye, he continued toward the ranch.

Feeling very comfortable in my skin, I started down the hill. After lingering around the creek and springs until after dark, I started the long climb back to the ranch and my campsite, feeling extremely naked and extremely free. That experience has lingered with me ever since, and it surges back to me every time I leave everything behind and step out onto a trail with nothing but my skin.

That was in the late summer of 2009. When I got a chance to visit Deep Creek in 2011, it had been almost two years since my last visit. Unlike 2009, when I was stationed in California, this time, I was only there for a short time. I had the chance to go to Deep Creek, but only for one Saturday. I had no camping gear with me, so I planned to arrive about first light and stay until dark, to make the most of the opportunity. I decided that making the most of the day would mean spending the entire day nude, with no safety net.

Arriving at Bowen Ranch early that October Saturday morning, I got out of the car, stripped off everything, and put it all inside the car. Taking only my camera in its case, and a large bottle of Gatorade, I locked the car and hid the key. A moment of hesitation…what if someone searched and found the key, stole the car, and drove away? I’d be stranded, totally naked, with no clothes, no phone, no money, no ID…nothing. Pushing the thought from my mind, I turned and started toward the trail head by the ranch fence.

The weather was perfect. The sun was just climbing above the mountains, the sky was clear and blue, with only a few high, wispy clouds. The desert air was warm, but still very comfortable on my bare skin. The desert floor, sand and rock, was still cool beneath my bare feet. I could see down into the canyon a bit, as I walked toward the edge of the open plateau, totally naked, carrying only the bottle of Gatorade in one hand and my camera case in the other. No hat, no sunglasses, no shoes, and no clothing. Not even a day pack covering a portion of my bare back. (Pictured)

As I began the descent toward the canyon, I knew that once the sun climbed higher in the sky, the temperature would climb to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. After that, without as much as a hat for shade, it would be impractical, and even unsafe, to hike and climb back out of the canyon along the exposed slope under the blazing sun. Once I was down in the canyon, I would need to stay there all day long, until the sun began to dip below the western mountain tops, providing some shade on the trail as it climbed along the eastern slope. Being a Saturday, and before the cooler weather of Autumn settled in, there would likely be dozens of other people on the trail and around the springs. I was committing myself to being totally and irrevocably naked and exposed for the entire day, no matter what happened and no matter how many others I encountered. At the cluster of hot spring pools, along the creek, there was a pipe jammed into a crevice that discharged hot, clean spring water. Because I carried only the bottle of Gatorade, I would have to refill the bottle from that spring pipe several times during the day. It was the only source of safe drinking water around, and it was in the center of all the activities and people that would visit the springs that day. There was no escaping the fact that a lot of people were going to see a lot of me…ALL of me…through the course of that day, and I would be utterly exposed to them all, with nothing I could do about it.

After about an hour and a half of walking in the morning sunshine along the exposed slope, I reached the crest of the final hill. This was the point the hiker had said “You rock, Dude!” almost two years before. Now, instead of a quick trip before dusk, and a return in the dark, I was about to start down the hill in the early morning, to spend all day in my naked situation. There was no turning back now. Down the slope my bare feet carried my naked body. When I went around the last curve in the trail, I looked down and saw the little beach, the creek, and the hot spring pools. There were already a few people there, and most were clothed. Across the canyon, I could see a few miles of the Pacific Crest Trail as it snaked along the opposite slope. I could see up and down the canyon for more than a mile in each direction, catching glimpses of Deep Creek sparkling in the sun as it weaved among the trees of the riparian zone. I could see everything from the trail as it descended along the bare slope, and everyone in that expansive area could see me as I strode down the trail in the bright sunshine. (Pictured)

Although I’ve spent many days, and hiked many miles nude up and down Deep Creek canyon, that day was one of the most enjoyable I’ve experienced. With no clothes to think about, no shoes to put on my feet, no pack to hoist onto and off of my back, I wandered as freely as a wild animal, feeling only fresh air, sunshine, soft vegetation, sand, rock, and water on all of my skin. When I wanted to cross the creek, I just kept walking until I was swimming. When I wanted to soak or swim, I just put down the bottle and camera and got into the water. When I needed water, I simply walked naked through the crowd and filled it at the spring pipe. It was so simple, so natural, so liberating to have so little with me that wasn’t “me”!

If you’ve never experienced being totally naked and free like this, I whole-heartedly recommend that you give it a try someday! I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed!


15 thoughts on “Hiking Naked Without Clothes”

  1. Nice article Jim, I enjoyed it thoroughly! How did your skin fare with such a long exposure? I’m fairly dark skinned, but would still require a couple of applications of sunscreen for such an adventure.

    • Thanks, Joe! I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I was already pretty well tanned for the hikes in the article. Particularly in the case of that first “no safety net” hike, I had been doing all-day nude hikes in the Deep Creek area at least one or two weekends a month, for the previous couple of months. Besides that, at that time in my life, I typically spent almost all my warm weather evening hours nude. And, I usually was nude before getting home from work on Friday evening until I went back to work on Monday morning. At the time of the all-day “no safety net” hike in the article, I was still spending as much time nude outdoors as possible. I almost never use sunscreen, choosing to gradually tan early each Spring until I’m past the point of easily burning.

  2. Thanks for sharing – loved reading the story… Sounds like a great experience. Unfortunately I do not find always a naturist friendly hiking area – but i use early bird timing and start hiking before sunrise until sun comes up… and it always works (so far) and is a great experience almost everywhere in the world.

    • You’re welcome, Jofae! Glad you loved the story! We have to do the things that work for us, given the situations we’re presented with, just like you’ve been doing with your “early bird” hikes! Keep on doing what keeps on working!

  3. I agree. On most of my naked walks I’m carrying a day pack with lunch and water in it as well as the shorts I probably had to start the walk wearing. Plus my camera, my GPS receiver and smartphone if I’m geocaching, the list goes on! Sometimes, it is nice to just leave it all behind and the feeling of doing so is very liberating, I agree. I have done such walks, one of which I blogged about here on Naktiv but, like that one, they are usually short walks. The difficulty can be finding somewhere where you can park your car then set out naked as anywhere with vehicular access is, by definition in our society, a textile area. So I note with interest your assertion that “The area is, and for decades has been known as a nude-friendly environment.” Only official or well-known unofficial beaches in the UK could be described as that and they never have vehicular access. Other places where we might go naked, such as remote moorland, are not known in that way by the general public and certainly not along the roads used to access them.

    As for being barefoot; that walk I blogged about had that as well and it does feel good, but only on suitable surfaces – sharp stones are not suitable, but sadly all too common. I will concede to wearing sandals. Of course, the more you go barefoot, the more you’re able to do it, but in my day to day life I’ve never been able to build up to the level of toughness that would allow me to go barefoot on any surface other than a kind one.

    Your encounter with the “You rock dude!” guy is perfect, thanks for telling us about that.

    • Thanks Brian! I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Yes, sometimes the “necessary” list can get lengthy! And, it’s truly necessary for some hikes.

      The place that I parked for these (and many other) hikes was Bowen Ranch. It’s private land, with an entrance and/or camping fee. It adjoins U.S. Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management (USFS/BLM) land. The ranch allows nudity, and the federal agencies don’t have rules against nudity. There are other trails that can be used to access the canyon, creek, and hot springs, but most of those are as you described, textile areas.

      Yes, barefoot hiking and running take conditioning, and the surface must be considered. When I can’t hike barefoot, my next choice is a pair of Vibram 5-Fingers shoes. They’re kind of like gloves for your feet. They still allow your feet to flex and move naturally, while providing some protection when needed. My feet were better conditioned in the past than they are right now. But, I’m currently working to get them back into prime barefoot condition again. Like you said, the more you do, the more you can do. In the past few days, I’ve done about 6 miles of barefoot walking, a little each day. Yesterday was a 3.8 mile barefoot walk on pavement, concrete, and some rock and sand along a river. Another mile today, on dirt and some rocks, and my feet are feeling very good!

      Glad you like the “You rock, Dude!” part!

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed your article, hiking the way it should be done! In my younger years I didn’t go hiking as such, but I have walked quite long distances setting out as “as a short walk” that turned into a much longer one. There was once when I hid the car key under a marked stone about a metre from our car knowing no-one would find it there. We walked along the shoreline after we had scrambled down the steep (almost invisible) path to the sands. We saw nobody for around 10 minutes steady walk, we only carried a bag with iced water, some fruity sweets & towels to wipe off sweat (& maybe sand). We came across a woman with a young child sheltered by a rock, when she saw that we were naked she waved & pointed out to sea, there in the near distance we could just make out someone swimming back. We walked onwards until we found steps up from the beach, strangely we couldn’t recognise where we were? We hesitated before turning to try and follow the shoreline back to our vehicle. We had to detour to avoid crevices & treacherous terrain, we tried to return to the shoreline but then saw a group of four caravans parked near the cliffs. A rather stout young man came towards us with a big grin, he laughed out loud as he yelled “Hey dad, here’s two of then nudie people, they’s looking lost I reckon.”
    I’ll tell the rest of this story another time. {I’m only supposed to be answering Luis post!!}

  5. Great article Jim. Yes , agree with you! I love that feling to be TOTALY free and naked! I often have such walks. Of course, it depends on the weather and the length. If I plan a longer tutu – more than three hours, I already take a backpack with water and food, but walks of up to three hours are pleasant and safe even completely naked without anything. (Mobile only haha)

  6. I have never did a naked hike without a backpack with water, food, short shorts and my cellphone. For emergency. I only did once and it was a very short walk, where I left my backpack in one place and walk totally naked to a place like 500 m far and returned. It was thrilling, also because I cyclist passed me in the path, coming from the same side and looked at me dumbfounded. I replied with a “hello”, with no answer back. I think he got kinda angry or something, cause immediatly I thought that he maybe would find my backpack at the start of the path and would take it away with him, knowing that was mine… So I walked back to the initial point and – thank God – i had found my backpack again.
    Never tried again.
    Good report.

    • Thank you, Luis! Normally, I carry a hydration pack with plenty of water, food, etc. For most longer hikes, I would advocate strongly for taking everything that would be required for a given hike as “being properly prepared”. On the hikes in my article, I was already very familiar with the trails, and knew for certain that a good source of water was readily available. Also, I knew that I could get back to my campsite before any weather event could cause any serious issues. But, in the right locations, hiking with nothing is a wonderful experience!

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