Nude Hiking in a National Park – Know Before You Go!

Nude Hiking in a National Park – Coronado National Forest

National Parks may have secluded areas where nude hiking is totally possible – even frequently occurring. Of course, one must be cautious not to offend visitors that do not appreciate nudity or who might even dial 9-1-1 to report your activity. But if you chose areas where nude hiking typically occurs, the hikers you encounter will probably be as nude as you.

If you are among the many that like to get-back-to-nature by finding a remote (spelled private) area where you can take your clothes off and meander au naturel through the outdoors, there are many hidden places around America where you can make this happen.

Unlike Europe, our American Puritan instincts make outdoor nudity more difficult in the United States, but one of my favorite spots for nude hiking is located at Tanque Verde Falls. It’s been a popular naturist area for many years.

Tanque Verde is just east of the city of Tucson, Arizona in the Coronado National Forest. After leaving the pavement, a dusty road takes you into the park and to an area where naturists take it all off. Although I don’t recommend it, some visitors do hike nude from the parking area to the popular spots.

A note of caution: Tanque Verde Falls is situated in a narrow canyon. At the north end of the canyon, the rocky terrain flattens out and becomes a giant funnel that feeds sudden rainfall into the canyon. After a heavy rain (which may seldom occur at Tanque Verde itself), the water levels can rise rapidly, and few people have the strength to swim in the currents. There are reports of several hikers who have been swept to their deaths in an unexpected surge. So have a quick exit route planned out before you become sleepy in the day’s sunshine.

As you hike into the canyon, the first naturist area will be found where the falls is located. In a dry season, the cliffs are about 30 feet tall. These become the location of waterfalls when water rises as mountain snows melt or heavy rain falls upstream. Otherwise, typically there is a sandy beach or large flat rocks to sunbathe on. This area is the easiest to access and is frequented by straight singles and couples.

Gays and lesbians generally hike about half a mile further up the canyon following well-beaten paths to an area above Tanque Verde Falls itself. Descending the main path is not difficult, but it’s a steep climb down, and presents a more demanding climb out of the canyon after hikers are tired from exposure to the hot sun.

Once you have reached the riverbed, off with the clothes – keeping your hiking boots on. (I recommend you take an old pair of canvas walking shoes since you may have to wade through some pools of water a foot deep.)

This area is like a Garden of Eden in the middle of the desert. Just be sure to pack water and perhaps some beer or wine. And don’t forget a sandwich or snacks. There are no services nearby.

Enjoy yourself. But beware of nature’s dangers. I’ve been watched by a rattling rattlesnake, and I once almost stepped on a hissing gila monster. You will observe white frogs, beautiful song birds and birds of prey, and of course many saguaro cactus among other desert plants and flowers.

Have a naked hike!

Hiking The Amicalola River Trail

From the canoe ramp near the gravel parking lot on Georgia 53, follow the loop trail towards the river. This is where Class IV whitewater rapids can be found. Famously known as the “Edge of the World”, this was formed by the Brevard Fault Line. Climbing into the Dawson Wildlife Management Area, the mountains and the brook provide a serene picture of wildlife and its habitat. Yet, whether some may consider the Amicalola River as a creek, it doesn’t really matter if a nature hike and adventure are what you’re looking for. Although owned by the City of Atlanta, the management of the areas resources are split among three state departments. The current agreement set is that the Georgia Forestry Commission manages the forest resources while wildlife protection and maintenance is managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

However, people are prohibited from visiting a certain portion of the area of approximately four acres, wherein a 10 mega-watt nuclear facility is situated and operated by Lockheed. These prohibited areas have high radiation levels and are strictly monitored by scientists for radioactive readings. So do not stray and be observant with the trail signs and route directions. Start at the parking lot road and take the path furthest from the road towards the boat ramp. From this point, canoers and kayakers begin their wild ride with the class IV white water rapids which can take half a mile towards the river end.

For hikers and trekkers, take the south side to a gravel parking area to begin the Amicalola River Trail. An alternate route to the wooden stairs near the parking lot takes you to the bridge called Georgia 53. Turn left at the end of the bridge and you’ll find a 30-foot rock wall. Pass the old covered bridge gateway, further half a mile the trail leads you to the rapids. Check for blue rectangular blazes or an arrow above a brown sign on your way to the climb. A few feet further, take a 90 degree turn where a double blaze can be seen. Be attentive not to miss this since there is a fairly visible trail nearby which is usually taken by trekkers by mistake.

Continue to follow the blazes towards a “T” and then turn right towards another climb to the highest ridge of this trail. Several species of flora can be seen along the way as you traverse and you may come across some small streams. About 1.7 miles, the trail climbs to a flat ridge which leads you to its highpoint area where picnic tables and a dedication post for Jason Funk, a boy scout who died in 1991, is located. Proceed to the path turning left at the Forest Service Road and look for another double-blazed sign. Then follow the footpath which leads to a wooden bridge which ends your trail at Highway 53.

Naukluft Hiking Trail Namibia – 8 Days Through Wondrous Desolation

Imagine a place so remote that you do not see another human being for days. Imagine a trail through desolate valleys, over mountains and across large flat plains of sand, rocks and tufts of dry grass. The Naukluft Hiking Trail in Namibia takes you through such a place.

It all starts at an old house perched on top of a small hill in what is known as the Namib-Naukluft Park in South Western Namibia. Hikers Haven is the base camp of this incredible trail. Here one can enjoy one last beer, grilled steak and warm shower. There after follow 8 days of carrying a heavy backpack through some of the most beautiful and desolate areas Namibia has to offer.

Normally one needs to get up at about 5 in the morning to be able to hit the trail by 7. Day one is no exception, and covers a distance of 14km. There is a lovely lookout point at “Panorama” as one starts rising up into the mountains a few kilometers into the hike. Spend some time here and enjoy the view of the plain below.

From here the trail steadily rises higher up into the Naukluft Mountains. A good spot for lunch is “Fontein Kloof”. There are some large trees for shade and the spring usually flows.

As with most of the overnight shelters on this trail, the shelter at “Putte” for tonight is merely a square stone structure with a wall about 1.2m high, over which a tin roof is supported by some steal pipes. The floor is gravel. Approximately 150m from the shelter is a borehole with a big flywheel that needs to be turned for water.

Day two is 15km in length and takes one into the famous Ubusis Kloof or ravine. The descent into the ravine is accomplished with the aid of a number of chains, some of which are up to 30m in length and act as aids down the cliff faces. As one descends further down, a geological time capsule is exposed in the layers of rock to ones sides. The scenery is quite breathtaking.

Ubusis hut is the only “normal” accommodation on this trail. This hut used to be a small vacation home many years ago when the area still consisted of farms. Water is supplied by means of a wind pump and borehole.

Day three takes one back out of Ubusis Kloof the way one went down the day before. At the top, once one reaches Bergpos, the trail turns due north across Kudu Plains. This day is only 12km long and is considered the easiest of all the days.

At the end of the Kudu Plains lies the Adlerhorst overnight shelter, which can be reached by the early afternoon. This leaves plenty of time to admire the scenery and relax a bit. Water is again supplied via a borehole with a handle on top of the pipe.

When we got there, the opening of the borehole pipe was covered in hundreds of bees desperately waiting for someone to turn the handle and pump some water out for them. Nobody got stung even once. It seems as if they realized that the humans coming to this place were their only hope of getting some water.

The fourth day tends to be a bit tricky, and is quite long at 17km. The tricky part comes when one has to descend a waterfall in a dried out river bed with the help of a long chain. The angle of the rocks makes this a difficult descent.

Further on there is another steep descent down the side of a mountain of loose slate. In the past this has been the cause of injuries to hikers slipping on the slate.

The Tsams-Ost overnight shelter contains a large water tank on a perch that is supplied with water from a borehole and wind pump. It is possible to have a cold shower standing underneath the tank.

The next day, day five, starts off with a stiff climb up the mountain behind the Tsams-Ost overnight shelter, and covers another 17km.

Some hours later one reaches Melkbos Plain. This plain involves many kilometers of marching along sandy tracks and through dried out river beds. It is here that one is most likely to see herds of antelope such as Eland or Kudu grazing on the sparse grass and vegetation.

The Die Valle overnight shelter is surrounded on three sides by mountains, and the sun tends to set rather early behind these mountains. Water is left here in a small water tanker which may not contain much water especially at the end of the hiking season, so washing is very limited on this day.

Day six tends to be the longest and most difficult of the whole trail. Even though it is only 16km long, one spends most of the day going up.

Immediately after leaving the Die Valle overnight shelter, there is a 200m vertical climb to the top of a waterfall. There after one follows a gorge and stream that feeds this waterfall for most of the day, climbing ever upwards.

It is along this gorge that one comes across some interesting geological formations called Tufa. Tufa is a sedimentary rock containing a lot of carbonates that are deposited by means of water. It often forms at waterfalls or streams. Here in this gorge, the Tufa looks like a gigantic solidified waterfall. Higher up one comes across a huge fig tree whose roots run all along a small cliff face.

Once on top of the gorge, there is a small flat plateau to cross before starting the long descent along an old jeep track to the Tufa overnight shelter. Be careful at the bottom of the track as the shelter is almost hidden amongst some bushes to the left. Water is again supplied in the form of a borehole next to a dried out stream bed about 150m from the shelter.

Day seven covers 14km and takes one to the highest, and usually the coldest point of the hike at Kapokvlakte.

From the Tufa overnight shelter, the trail crosses some very large boulders as it heads in the direction of the mountains again. At the base of the mountains that eventually lead up to Kapokvlakte, there are some chains to help one up some of the more difficult cliff faces.

Once at the top, the trail follows a steadily rising dried out stream bed until it reaches the top at World’s View. The name is very appropriate, as one can see for many kilometers into the distance. It’s a good place to stop for awhile and admire the view across the plains below, and to the mountains on the other side. From here the terrain is fairly flat and the going easy.

The Kapokvlakte overnight shelter is usually reached by early afternoon. The shelter is hidden behind a clump of bushes which are virtually the only larger vegetation in the area. The rest of the plateau is covered in short grass and the occasional small bush. Kapokvlakte can get very cold at night, and the use of a down feather sleeping bag is a must here.

The last day has finally arrived. By now everyone is dreaming of fat steaks and beer, but there is still a 16km slog ahead. A few kilometers across the top of the plateau, and the trail makes its long descent along a winding gorge down to Hikers Haven.

As the day gets warmer one can hear more and more insects and other small creatures in this lonely gorge. Be careful of picking up rocks. Very often there are scorpions hiding underneath them.

As one gets lower down the trail, there are small pools with large trees on the sides which make for good resting spots. A few hundred meters from Hikers Haven, there is a camp site. Here one may come across the first other humans again after having spent so many days in the wilderness. By now you may also spot the roof of the old house at Hikers Haven. Just a few hundred meters more and one is back. What a time it had been!

Now one can finally get a hot shower again! For those that brought vacuum packed meat and managed to keep it cool in their cars over this period, there will be a feast tonight!

Hiking in the Pindus Range, Greece

The Pindus Mountains, which bisect the country, running from North to South, are often referred to as ‘the spine of Greece’. This 160km long mountain range runs from the Albanian border all the way to the north of the Peloponnese Peninsula. Its highest point is Mount Smolikas, which is 2,637 metres tall. This range is one of the best places to hike in Greece, with its varied geography of high mountain peaks, rolling hills, lush valleys and deep, dramatic gorges. Along its varied length there are two National Parks, Aoos-Vitus National Park and Pindus National Park.

One of the most popular walks in the Aoos-Vitus National Park is the walk through the Vikos Gorge. This route, it should be noted, is not a walk in the park. While well-maintained, this is an ankle-twisting trail which traverses the limestone uplands of Mount Gamila for 20km. Be sure to check conditions before you set off as the snowmelt of April or early May can often make the end nearest Monodhéndhri impassable. Be warned that heavy rainfall can also lead to landslides on the sides of the gorge. Still, if you set out well-prepared then you will be rewarded by the spectacular scenery – the gorge walls are sometimes over 1000 metres in height and tower over you in rocky splendour.

Another option is the beautiful walk along the banks of the river Aoos. This gorge walk as also dramatically stunning. You can walk from Konitsa and those who have a good level of fitness could consider continuing the walk up to the summit of Mount Papigo. There are many signposted trails around Vikos and Aoos that provide walking options for a range of fitness levels, ages and abilities.

Unfortunately, the surprisingly little-known Pindus National Park does not benefit from such good signage. Even getting there from the main road is a bit of a mission as there are no proper signs. You can gain access to this rugged wilderness by way of the village of Perivoli to the north.

The dirt roads that cross the mountains and weave their way through the dense black pine and beech forests of this area are perfect for hiking and more than likely if you are in search of peace and solitude then you will find it. If you are lucky you may see a glimpse of a brown bear – this is one of three regions in Greece still populated by these shy animals. If you walk in Flegga Forest, you may also catch sight of wolves, lynxes, wild cats, deer or wild boar. If you are looking for somewhere different to go, then Pindus National Park could be the perfect place as it is unlikely that anyone you know has been. This is the least known and least visited national park in Europe, which is a shame, unless you are looking to escape the crowds that is.

The Pindus Mountain Range is ideal for a real escape into nature, on hiking trails you are likely to have entirely to yourself.

Hiking in Arcadia, Greece

It is no coincidence that the name ‘Arcadia’, the name of this region at the heart of the Peloponnese Peninsula of southern Greece, is synonymous with our ideal rural landscape. This lush, mountainous landscape is such a beautiful place you may even feel you have stumbled into one of the myths for which the Peloponnese Peninsula is famed.

The area around ancient Gortys is a lovely place – heaven for hikers. The monks of the monastery of Prodhrómou own the surrounding farmland and they have carved a path up along the Gorge of Loúsios between Áyios Andhréas and the monastery. It takes around 40 minutes to reach the start of the graded path. The walk is along a graded trail which follows the stream. The monastery itself perches precipitously on the cliff edge high above the path and one of the few monks who live here will show you the frescoes here if you show up when the monastery is open – it is closed between 2 and 5pm. Strict dress codes must be adhered to and if you are immodestly dressed then you will be given a blanket like item of clothing to don to enter the monastery. Beyond this monastery, the path continues past two more, one of which, Paleá is a ruin dating from the Tenth Century. The other, Néa, is from the Seventeenth Century. It has been restored and extended in recent years but frescoes dating from 1663 are still intact and can be viewed by applying to the permanent caretaker monk. The path then winds its way beside the river and it takes less than two hours to go through Paleohóri to reach Dhimitsána. If you choose to walk this route you will see why it is so popular with hikers.

The Mainalo mountain range is traversed by the E4 European long-distance path. It starts in Vitina and ascends to the ski lodge on Ostrakina before descending once more to Kardara. This is a very pleasing and varied section of this well-known walk, giving lovely views of this area.

Hiking from the village of Vitina to the village of Stemnitsa is a particular highlight of walking in this area. Vitina is a popular mountain resort with city-dwelling Athenians who come here for a taste of the fresh mountain air. From the central square of the village, take the road leading out of the village to the north-west. The start of the path is well sign-posted with yellow labels. It will lead you first of all down to the river Mylaontas in its scenic gorge and along its banks until you reach a picturesque, deserted watermill and a wooden bridge. After an hour or so’s walk, you head to the spring of Aghios Theodoros, then up onto a beautiful plateau covered with walnut trees the church of the life-giving spring. Passing through Eftakarvelou, you turn right, continuing on until you reach a crossroads. At the crossroads you take a left turn, and follow this path for five kilometers or so until you reach Stemnitsa.

These routes are just a few examples of the many wonderful hiking paths throughout Arcadia. Come to the Peloponnese to discover some of them for yourself.