Hi, I’m Ken Sunwalker,
Would you believe people actually strip off their clothes and wander through woods and meadows to enjoy the feeling of the breeze and sun on their naked bodies? It’s called freehiking. Well, my journey into naturism started nearly 20 years ago with freehiking, and I still love it! In fact, I’m passionate about freehiking as you see. Thanks for visiting!
My Personal Goal for 2021 is to freehike at least 300 times. As of June 15th, I’ve freehiked 147 days. (Life and the weather occasionally slow me down.)
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FREEHIKING – WHAT AND WHY
Sunning, swimming, and otherwise being outdoors nude is wonderful, but nude walking/hiking is an altogether different experience. That’s right, walking or hiking outdoors NUDE! Called freehiking, this is a unique blend of satisfaction, for a longer period of time, and over much more terrain. Comfortable footwear is required – like low socks and tennis shoes. Clothes are usually left far behind when freehiking, except for a loose cover-up that can be easily carried. Freehiking can be a fun, lengthy, and thrilling commitment, with heightened exhilaration.
According to Colon Fletcher, “The best dress for walking is nakedness.” I agree totally, for the following five reasons:
- Freehiking is such a transcendent experience. FEELING nature on every square inch of your body is exquisite. The connection with nature will feel palpable. Your largest sense organ, the skin, will feel everything so you’ll discover how ‘blind’ you were before; why would anyone smother almost their entire organ of touch with clothing? Hiking clothed is like hiking with your hands over your eyes and peeking through little slits between your fingers. Don’t ever do that!
- Freehiking is the ultimate experience of FREEDOM. With nothing but your skin between you and nature, the air, and the sun, you will experience freedom to totally relax and become one with nature, and any doubts will just melt away.
- Freehiking builds SELF-CONFIDENCE in your true identity. As you hike naked, you’ll get closer to nature, rediscover and relate to your own body, and discover yourself. Not only that, but freehiking is good fun – pleasant, relaxing, refreshing, exhilarating, exciting, enjoyable, and motivating.
- Freehiking is a great way to stay FIT and get an overall TAN. Most people hardly hike beyond the trailhead, on popular paths. Don’t be like most people, get far up seldom-used trails and remove your clothes. From then on, you’ll be motivated to exercise out in nature. I know that’s good for me; I bet it will be good for you as well.
- Freehiking can be great for your RELATIONSHIP with others. Those who hike nude together stay together!
Here’s the freehiking CHALLENGE: Walk to a deserted area, remove your clothes, and take a few steps. This is how normal feels. Enjoy the air and the sun on your entire body. Experience the freedom and fun as your self-confidence builds. You’ll naturally get fitter and tanner. And if you hike with others, relationships will build. Then you’ll understand that a person hasn’t fully lived without experiencing naked hiking. Give it a try for yourself; it’s the only way to understand and take advantage of freehiking’s benefits!
FREEHIKING – HOW/LEGAL/WHERE
The most common questions people new to freehiking ask are: Where can I go? Is it legal? How should I freehike?
The answer to the first question is “anywhere” and nearly “everywhere.”
Is freehiking legal? That depends – read on.
Let’s consider these three topics in more detail:
- Is freehiking legal?
- Where can I freehike?
- How to freehike.
Is freehiking legal?
Perhaps you’ve wondered whether you can safely and legally freehike in your area.
Someone sent me an email expressing this concern: “Regarding the legality of free-hiking, it is true that there is no law prohibiting it in national forests, BLM land, etc. But there is a STATE law in all western states except Oregon, including AZ, that makes public nudity a crime everywhere in the state if someone is offended. If you offend someone while free-hiking, and simply being naked can be cause for offense to some people, and they report it, the local authorities (like the local sheriff) are obligated to respond and to make an arrest. If you are caught, say at your car at the trailhead, it is a misdemeanor but it is a felony if anyone in the party is under 18 (2 years prison). This is not theoretical. Sad but true.”
As expressed by this email, nudity is technically legal in all national parks, and neither the U.S. Forest Service nor federal BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land has any laws banning public nudity. I’ve never run into a public land authority, but I’ve met several freehikers who have, and they have never gotten into trouble. The most common response from authorities is, “Please Cover Up.”
However, it is also true that local and county officials have the right to deal with ‘free hikers’ on a case-by-case basis, but they will only issue tickets if the hiker’s nudity nudity presents a nuisance or hazard to other public land users. Each state has its own laws related to activities like freehiking; some are very restrictive, others very open. You’ll want to check the laws for your state. For example, here is the law in Arizona where I currently live:
13-1402. Indecent exposure
A. A person commits indecent exposure if he or she exposes his or her genitals or anus or she exposes the areola or nipple of her breast or breasts and another person is present, and the defendant is “reckless” about whether the other person, as a reasonable person, would be offended or alarmed by the act.
C. Indecent exposure to a person who is fifteen or more years of age is a class 1 misdemeanor (no penalty to six months jail).
So, a freehiker in Arizona is not breaking the law simply by being naked, only if they offend or alarm others. But each state is different. (For laws in your state, see: http://www.naturistaction.org/StatesFrames/state_laws_and_legislation.html} I wouldn’t suggest freehiking in Arkansas where any nakedness is totally illegal.
Still, every State has at least a few spots where freehiking is legal or at least accepted. For example, Washington, Oregon, and Vermont are very open about naturism and also have a number of naturist resorts that advertise and totally accept freehiking. California also has several naturist resorts that advertise and accept freehiking – De Anza Springs for example has miles of freehiking area. The hike to Deep Creek Hot Springs is frequently done nude without concern, and those caught freehiking in Los Angeles National Forest are not prosecuted. Freehiking on the Land Orient Trust in Colorado is totally accepted. The Magic Circle near Quartzite Arizona is overseen/inspected by the BLM and has a mile-long trail around its edge for nude use. Arizona also has resorts that totally accept freehiking – Shangri La Ranch where I built the surrounding freehiking trails is an example. Even Utah, a very conservative state, where I started freehiking has an accepted freehiking trail. I’ve freehiked many times in many states for at least the last 20 years without issue (Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina, and Connecticut).
This links to laws from many states: https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/nudity-and-public-decency-laws-in-america-31193
Some would argue that there is such an expectation for people to wear clothes so being naked on the trail is recklessly unexpected and likely to offend and alarm. Consider these two questions: “Is freehiking reckless?” “Will freehikers offend or alarm others?”
If you freehike on days most people aren’t around (normally weekdays), on trail that few others frequent, wait to undress for some distance along the trail past where others seldom hike, and carry a wrap to cover up if needed, you are certainly not being RECKLESS. Freehikers are not exhibitionists!
In order for freehiking to be considered “reckless” and result in a fine and/or imprisonment, the freehiker would have to do the following:
1. Pick a trail that is popular with textiles, especially children.
2. Refuse to cover up if someone reacts negatively.
3. Be “assumed” to be guilty of indecent exposure by the ticketing authority.
4. Be found “guilty” by a trial judge who doesn’t understand the “reckless” standard.
I believe this chain of events is almost impossible to occur in Arizona, or anywhere else, which is why one almost never hears of an occurrence, but there is still a very slim chance.
So, this all boils down to your tolerance for risk! If you’re “very” risk adverse, you better not freehike, because there is still a chance of upsetting someone and being arrested (although highly unlikely).
And while it’s impossible to predict how others might react, in my many years of freehiking no one has ever seemed offended or alarmed. I’ve had reaction and comments ranging from silence to laughter to “Hi” to “Good day” to “That looks like a comfortable way to hike” to “Everyone has the right to do their own thing” to “Good weather for it” to “You’re braver than me”, but no one has ever seemed overly concerned. People have always been very friendly, especially when hiking in the hills away from crowds and children.
It always bugs me when naturists are so AFRAID and hung up on the letter of the law. Instead, they should just show consideration for other people about where and when they freehike. It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not if you have the consent of those who might see you. So, asking people is always the best first option.
Where can I freehike?
The best advice for finding a good freehiking spot is to, “Go with someone who knows!”
As I mentioned previously, you can freehike basically “anywhere” and nearly “everywhere.” There are literally thousands of spots – many more spots for freehiking than spots frequented by textiles. However, many new freehikers try to avoid being seen. If they hear someone coming, they jump in the brush or quickly pull on some clothes (jumping around trying to do this just makes a person even more obvious). So, how can freehikers avoid being seen by less-tolerant people, especially the cops! After all, you don’t want to be arrested for hiking free. (It doesn’t seem to matter that I’ve never heard of someone being arrested for simply freehiking.) So here are a few tips for finding a place to freehike:
- Go during the week, not the weekend, when there are fewer people on the trails.
- Look for likely spots not frequented by people – washes, animal trails, forest roads.
- Look for cars at the trailhead to see if others are about.
- Look for fresh tracks; no fresh tracks means no one is on the trail.
- Pick an in-and-out trail so you don’t run into people coming the opposite way.
- Start dressed until away from the trailhead or road; most textiles hike only a short distance and turn around.
Follow these tips and you’ll probably never run into anyone or have a problem.
How to Freehike
These actions should be considered when freehiking:
- Dress/carry easily removed clothes/cover-ups, such as kilts rather than shorts.
- Wear shoes and socks to protect your feet (although some have feet tough enough to go barefoot).
- Carry just a small bag for water, snacks, etc. Use a pack for longer hikes.
- Take walking sticks and other items needed to feel safe.
But what if someone SEES me freehiking? You’ll almost never run into anyone if you freehike an area that is seldom used by the public. Even on more populated trails, most people stop hiking after a short distance, and more experienced hikers don’t seem to care; from there on you can be free. Besides, meeting someone when freehiking is all about how you behave. Don’t hide or jump around trying to get clothed; act like freehiking is perfectly normal for you. What would you do if you had met them while fully clothed? Just smile, say “Hi”, mention the weather, and continue on your way. Why do anything different when you freehike? If they seem keen to stop for a chat, let them take the lead and go with the flow! They might even join you. If they seem agitated or make negative comments, make sure you cover yourself up and simply state that you are a naturist out for a country walk and had no intention of upsetting them.
The fact is freehiking doesn’t bother the majority. Effortless Outdoors did a survey among 1500 adult Americans which showed that 45% had no problem with nude hikers at all, 30% more thought it should be allowed but at designated places, and only 25% seemed to be against it.
You can be a good example! As Richard Foley says, “The more people see you, when you’re out naked hiking, then the more people get to realize that it’s a harmless and pleasant activity.”
And it’s a good idea to freehike with others. Unless you’re freehiking for personal meditation, sharing the hike while naked makes the freehiking experience even better. That alone is a good reason to take someone with you when freehiking. In addition, if you encounter others, it will also seem less weird that you’re naked in a group. So, find or start a nude hiking group.
Freehiking enhances the hiking experience many times over. ‘Why hike naked?’ is really the wrong question. The real question is, “Why not?” What really stops you? Find a spot and start today!
FREEHIKING WITH ME
Over the years, I’ve been to many nude beaches, even more hot springs, and 33 nudist resorts (and lived at three), but freehiking has always been my real passion! Even at resorts I was often found freehiking or building freehiking trails. Here are just a few of my most memorable freehikes:
- Freehiking many times up red-rock canyons and to natural arches in Parowan Valley, Utah.
- Freehiking in the hills above Parowan and coming upon a rock pattern left by a naturist friend saying “HiKen”.
- Taking my first “social” freehike (the first of many) with a friend on Stansbury Island, Utah.
- Stopping often during drives from Salt Lake City to Parowan for a relaxing freehike.
- My most memorable birthday was a freehike with friends, and eating ice cream and cake (naked) afterwards.
- Freehiking to Diamond hot springs in northern Utah several times with friends, and being seen.
- Organizing and taking many freehikes with groups in Utah, California, and Arizona.
- Freehiking from Bowen Ranch to Deep Creek hot springs in California several times, and meeting several people.
- Freehiking through the forest near the Wenqtchee river in the state of Washington.
- Many freehikes above Olive Dell Ranch in Colton, California, and organizing/running the Bare Burro 5k.
- Freehiking several beautiful places near Hurricane, Utah, where I was seen by mountain bikers.
- Freehiking many places along the Green River and at Lake Powell in Utah.
- Freehiking near Moab, Utah for taking photos.
- Freehiking several times through the beautiful red rocks of the San Rafael Swell area in Utah.
- Freehiking many areas while traveling for work, especially near El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruses, New Mexico.
- Freehiking twice the white gypsum sands at White Sands National Park.
- Boulder hopping and freehiking the area near Badger Springs, Arizona, and being seen several times.
- Freehiking along the beautiful Skunk River Water Trail north of Ames, Iowa.
- Freehiking to the Sleeping Giant outside Helena, Montana where I lost my car keys and thumbed a ride in only my hiking kilt.
- Freehiking the soft, sandy areas above South Padre Island beach, and in forested areas near McAllen, Texas.
- Building trails at Olive Dell Ranch, Shangri La Ranch, Mingus Mountain, and on my land, and walking them nude.
- Freehikng with friends at the Magic Circle near Quartzite, Arizona, where Amy and I were married (nude).
- Freehiking with Amy several times up Green Gulch near our home in Dewey, Arizona.
- Freehiking with Milt and Amy to a small lake in the Connecticut forest.
- Exploring many new areas for group freehikes with Amy, and with friends.
Through all this, what have I learned about freehiking? This might be best summarized by an article I wrote some time ago named: THE NAKED 4-H’s. Freehiking makes me Happy: amazing feeling, fun, and freedom. Freehiking makes me Healthy: mentally, physically, and spiritually with reduced stress. Freehiking makes me Human: less judgmental, with realistic body image, and more social contact. And freehiking makes me Honest: confident with who I am, more open with others, and humble enough to accept the truth.
Hi, I’ve been freehiking since 2002; it’s how I became a naturist. Since then, I’ve freehiked in many states, helped run a freehiking group, and built many freehiking trails. I’ve met many textiles while naked and have many experiences to share. I currently live with my freehiking wife in Arizona. I’ve found hiking naked outside in nature, the sun and warm breeze on my entire body, totally natural, refreshing, freeing, and motivating; it’s the best way to hike! I’ve always enjoyed nudity, but freehiking is my passion, so this site emphasizes my own and others thoughts about the wonderful world of naked hiking – freehiking.