*Warning* - If you are offended by butts and behinds, go elsewhere ;)
Naked hiking day is the day when clothes come off and body parts breath freely. Thru-hikers, weekend backpackers and day hikers annually unite across the globe for one day to shamelessly hit the trails in their birthday suits.
Thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail are the largest participants. Most are on remote trails, away from heavily trafficked areas and can bare all without much risk of offending anyone or terrifying any small children.
It is meant to be fun and nothing more. The day has slowly evolved into somewhat of a summertime ritual and a right of passage for all thru-hikers to partake. It is not for the shy... nor for those that sunburn easily.
It is held on Summer Solstice, which is June 21st. Also known as "midsummer", the day has been a part of folklore and fairy tales for centuries as a day believed to hold special powers.
We are not about to go down the fairy tale rabbit trail. However, it is clear that "Hike Naked Day" spawned from some of this midsummer folklore. It is also believed that celebrations have been held annually since the turn of the century, when like-minded souls all over the world decided to throw off the bonds of their clothes to get buck-naked and commune with nature by having a frolic and cavorting through bush trails.
Wiccans, New Agers and Scandinavians are also known to dance around maypoles on Naked Hiking Day and thousands gather at Stonehenge to partake in the "all natural" celebration.
Eh... well, the answer is... kind of.
Legally speaking, "Nudity is legal in National Parks." (see article). Nudity itself is not banned. As long as you are not sexual about it, you are good to go. Kind of surprising, right? The tricky part is if a local county or city outlaws it, in which case you are often at risk of being ticketed or prosecuted if caught.
Culturally speaking, nude hiking is generally not accepted, despite it happening in countries throughout the world (nice Switzerland). Outside of our National Park System, nudity is usually illegal and considered "indecent exposure" in public places across the globe.
Most rangers and police actively discourage hiking naked on trails. That being said, law enforcement officers are probably not too concerned about a few people hiking in their birthday suits, especially when you take into account how remote most backcountry trails are.
Note we are not advocating breaking the law. Hike naked only where it is legal and proceed baring all at your own risk. Ask the land owner when in doubt. Even then, there are a few tips to keep in mind to avoid human contact and stay safe.
Just because your body is bare does not mean you should hike without supplies - including food, proper footwear, gear AND clothes.
Chamois cream and products like Button Hole can help with chaffing.
You are not protected by... well anything, so keep to "safer trails". AKA - no prickly bushes, rock scrambles, etc that could harm your baby soft skin.
Use trails that are less popular and avoid those that are used by children.
Make the most of the early morning when many people are still dozing in bed.
Keep in mind the number of trail heads and parking lots on your particular trail. it will help make it easier to monitor the number of hikers out.
Some of this newly exposed skin might not have ever seen daylight, so don't forget to protect it with sunscreen.
By Chris Cage
Chris launched Greenbelly Meals in 2014 after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail for 6 months. Since then, Greenbelly has been written up by everyone from Backpacker Magazine and Bicycling Magazine to Fast Company and Science Alert. He recently wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail and currently works from his laptop all over the globe.
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