Caution: Naked Hiking Day June 21

You May Encounter Bares in the Woods

Hiking Behind Silver Falls
Hiking Behind Silver Falls. Wendy Bumgardner ©

"If you go out in the woods today, you're in for a big surprise!" It isn't the Teddy Bears' Picnic, it's the bares enjoying the unofficial annual Naked Hiking Day, observed on June 21, the day of the Summer Solstice. It falls around the date of Father's Day, and that leads to concerns about clothed families encountering naked hikers.

Walking guru Colin Fletcher called this his "Second Law of Thermodynamic Walking -- give your b***s some air." He enjoyed hiking naked through the Grand Canyon and along the Pacific Crest Trail on hot days.


Is Naked Hiking Legal?

In many jurisdictions, it is not illegal to be naked in public if your intent is simply to be naked and not to incite or satisfy sexual arousal. If you are hiking on US federal land such as a National Forest or Bureau of Land Management area, there is no federal law against nudity but state and local law may take precedence. In other jurisdictions, hiking naked can get you a trip to the slammer. If you plan to go naked in the wilderness, know the local laws and seek out places where you are unlikely to encounter others who are not like-minded.

It is wise to either find a private, secluded trail if going solo, or to join a group of naked hikers. Check with any clothing-optional resorts in your area to see if they have organized group hikes. Some groups hiking on public trails will send a clothed hiker ahead to alert any "textile hikers" that a naked group is on the trail.

This reassures others that you are not a threat, just happy, harmless naturists.

If You Encounter a Naked Hiker

What should you do if you encounter somebody hiking naked? Usually, you can tell the difference between nudists and obscene exhibitionists. If they are obviously just out hiking and enjoying nature au naturel, just proceed as usual.

If they aren't bothering you or others, let them enjoy the sun and the breeze on usually-clothed body parts.

  • More: How to Behave in a Clothing-Optional Area

If they are exhibiting signs that they are in fact perpetrators of indecent exposure, depart their vicinity as fast as possible and call the police, according to Pamela Kulbarsh, RN MSW and Psychiatric Emergency Response Team leader in southern California. Verbalizing, gesturing, touching themselves, etc. are obvious signs of this criminal behavior. Most such criminal exhibitionists are not dangerous, but some progress to accosting and even assaulting others. They need to be reported.

There are gray areas between the harmless nudist and the dangerous exhibitionist. If you don't want to be misunderstood, you may have to limit your sun-worshipping to clothing-optional designated areas and resorts.

Natural Hazards of Naked Hiking

Naked hikers face increased exposure to:

  • Mosquitoes and ticks: You don't want to be itching in uncomfortable places.
  • Sunburn: Be sure to cover all of your bits with sunscreen.

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