Nude Hiking and Camping Is a Tradition in Southern California

By Gary Mussell

 

Across Southern California, one can find many secluded trails, streams, and hot springs to enjoy without clothes or other people nearby – if you know where to look!  Locations and directions were always informally passed along by word of mouth among friends.

 

Several years ago, we came to realize there were usually a handful of members in every naturist club who would enjoy hiking nude, if only they knew where to go. So a few years ago, many of the local clubs got together and formed a Hiking SIG (Special Interest Group) that included members from all the clubs, plus quite a few unaffiliated individuals as well.  Hikers come in all ages, but they tend to be more of college age up to the mid-30’s, which is the age range that most eludes AANR landed clubs these days.

 

The Hiking Group has no formal structure aside from sharing emails and using Meetup.com to announce an upcoming day hike or overnight camping trip. This style of dis-organization might drive a landed club activities leader nuts, but it fits the spontaneous “what-do-you-want-to-do-this-weekend?” personalities of those involved.  The hikers use Meetup.com, a popular worldwide event coordination web site, to attract people who enjoy the outdoors that may have never considered doing anything without the encumbrance of clothing, but who are curious about trying it.

 

In 2006, we secured a letter from Sheriff Lee Baca of Los Angeles County stating that: “simply being nude in the Angeles National Forest is not prohibited by law…[and we are]…within [our] legal rights to hike in the forest in the nude.”  Baca informed his deputies, and ever since complaints or incidents have been very rare.  All our hikers carry that letter with them, but. This is because we follow these five simple rules while hiking nude:

 

  1. Carry your clothes with you so they may be put on quickly should the group suddenly find another (clothed) group on the same path,
  2. Always ask permission of other groups to undress if you are sharing a lake area, and never undress if there are underage children nearby,
  3. Always ask permission before taking a picture of another person,
  4. Always leave a trail, lake, or hot springs cleaner than when you came, and
  5. Watch out for Poison Ivy or Poison Oak!

 

 

Where to Go:

Here are some descriptions of a few of our trips to these locations during the past year:

 

Deep Creek

One of the favorite places to hike to in Southern California is Deep Creek Hot Springs. Located in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles, it is a 3-mile hike and 1500-foot descent from the car, so it is a tougher hike going back uphill.  The seasonal blue, yellow and purple wildflowers on the hillsides where the trail drops down to the hot springs are always spectacular. On most visits, we find a good number of other nudists present – many of college age - who came with friends or other family members. Some of the visitors remain clothed but there is always a live-and-let-live attitude about what one wears, and often by the end of the day some of those dressed will decide to drop their suits and join in our fun. Scenes from Deep Creek were included in the movie Act Naturally a few years ago.

 

Rodman Mountains Wilderness Area

In the high desert beyond Apple Valley lies an area near Cinder Cone where ancient peoples carved petroglyphs into the rocks.  It is hardly ever visited by anyone, thus it is perfect for nude camping, hiking, and exploring. The valley floor is covered here with an ancient lava flow, with black cinder stones both small and large littering the ground where they had rained down after being ejected from Cinder Cone.

 

The site was a pretty magical place and we visit every spring before the desert becomes too hot for such activity. Unlike hieroglyphs, which are painted onto a rock or cave surface, most of these petroglyphs are etched into the rock to form geometrical shapes (squares, rectangles, circles) with dots and hatching inside them, or parallel wavy lines.  A few are the recognizable images of a human, a big horn sheep, snakes, a tortoise (maybe), the sun or a star, but most are too enigmatic to identify.

On the valley floor a couple of areas were fenced off, and we quickly understood why: they showed clear signs of being Native American campsites.  Black fire circles had been made with the cinder stones, and we saw what were perhaps the outlines of huts from long-gone villages.

 

The wind picks up after sunset each day as the temperature drops. A portable generator is recommended for powering up a portable stove.  Pete likes to use the generator to run his blender and prepare margaritas. There is minimal or no cell phone service here, so you really feel you are on your own – a good thing!

 

Lower Bear Creek/ Upper Bear Creek

The Upper Bear Creek trail is off Hwy 39 above Azusa. While the 3-mile trail is mostly uphill with a couple of steep inclines, it’s a nice sunny hike through the chaparral up to Smith Saddle that offers some spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and San Gabriel Valley.

The Lower Bear Creek trail, a couple of miles to the south, is a completely different experience than the Upper Trail. As it follows alongside Bear Creek, it also offers more shade along the way than the Upper Trail as you pass through the trees growing along the banks of the creek. For this reason, and the fact that you can actually fish the creek, it’s much more popular than the Upper trail and is very crowded on weekends, which is why we recommend only trying to hike nude mid-week.

 

During our hike we only passed two other hikers, whose only comment as they passed our naked selves was a warning to “watch out for the poison oak!”

 

 

Other Places

Space does not allow us to describe other locations in detail, but some of other favorite hiking and camping locations include the Kern River above Lake Isabella, Sespe Creek in Northern Ventura County, and the Cleveland National Forrest east of San Diego. One of our members enjoys going up into the high sierras near Lake Tahoe, where he has pioneers some nude hiking trails there for fellow enthusiasts to use.

 

The feeling of hiking nude out in the wilderness is such a powerfully positive, symbiotic, and harmonious experience that you begin to realize what “being one with nature” is all about. The SCNA club is currently the coordinator of all RSVPs, so if you’d like to join our Hiking Group, go on mid-week hike, or camp over a weekend, send us an e-mail at scna@socalnaturist.org or call us at (818) 225-2273.

 

The American Association for Nude Recreation - Western Region

The American Association for Nude Recreation

Western Region

23679 Calabasas Road, Suite 966

Calabasas, CA 91302

information@aanrwest.org

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