Huntington GorgeIn the heart of Vermont's moose country is a quiet country stream with deep, warm pools of water known as Huntington River Gorge. This is a serene place, perfect for spending a lazy summer afternoon with a few friends.
Huntington Gorge is known as a place for nudists to go swimming. Yet, it's often deserted, especially during mid-week. The water here is crystalline, and there are plenty of large rocks and small beaches to sun and relax. A few of the pools are large enough to do a few strokes, though none are deep enough for diving. The short hike to the water is through a strip of forest full of birch, maple, beech and hemlock trees. At the river, the hillside thrusts up sharply on the opposite bank.
Dugway Road parallels the Huntington River. As you go up this dirt road, there are pull-offs on the left. Use them. Parking on the side of the road is prohibited unless all four wheels of your vehicle are fully off the road. The first few pull-offs are posted with signs by the Richmond Land Trust, with a long list of prohibited activities, including nudity. To be respectful, proceed to the first pull-off which is not posted.
From the pull-off, the river can be heard. Paths lead down to the river, and there are paths that run up and down the bank of the river, making it easy to findthe perfect spot. We went up stream a bit. Upstream further looked very promising, and downstream was nice too. Huntington Gorge is gorgeous. Get out there, explore it, and find your perfect hide-away in the woods.
WARNING: Portions of the beach are located on private property, so going there risks the ire of the landowner or perhaps even law enforcement.
Wear good shoes for the small hike, wait until you are at the water to disrobe, and if you bring nothing else, bring the bug repellent, especially as dusk approaches. The mosquitoes and black flies show no mercy.
The LedgesThis is unquestionably one of the best-known and oft-used naturist bathing sites in the Northeast. The Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, off Rt 100 near Wilmington, is famous in naturist circles. People have been buffing it here for more than 40 years, flocking from distant and not-so-distant cities and the 'burbs to enjoy quintessential Vermont: Quiet, private, beautiful, and au natural.
The clean waters of the reservoir are nestled in the mountains of Southern Vermont, close to the Massachusetts border, and surrounded by land owned by a the local power-generating company and by the Green Mountain National Forest. Other than the occasional power boat, jet-ski, or cellular telephone, once you are at the Ledges, civilization is just a memory.
At times, a good part of the beach can be hidden under water, due to heavy rain or regulation of the water to the power-producing dam at the southernmost end. But usually, the water level is lower, and there is a sandy beach bordered by large rocks - roomy enough to spread out on. There are plenty of choice spots to sun yourself, or wade into the water from the big, flat boulders which hug the reservoir's edge. There are even rock ledges from which you can jump into the deep water, although unless you know the area well, that is not generally recommended.
Nude swimming at the Ledges is no secret. But, be forewarned. Like any pristine spot, the people who have already "found" it can be proprietary about "their" special hide-away, and will not tolerate what they consider inappropriate behavior by newbies. Their code of etiquette? No leering, no gawking, no littering, no overt sexuality, and no cameras. Make no bones about it; this is nudism as a hobby and belief, not a pick-up spot!
Parking is free, and porta-toilets are available at the parking lot. You must get dressed to use them, however. Nudity in the main picnic area is likely to be cause for local police to be called. Staying to the unofficial area that naturists have used for years is important.
Knight Island State ParkKnight Island is small *very small* only a mile long and a half mile wide. With only seven campsites, it's also very private.
For more info, call the Knight Island State Park office at (802) 524-6353
Old Jelly Mill FallsThe Old Jelly Mill Falls are located just North of Brattleboro, Vermont, a mere hop from the center of town. They are close enough to town for a lunch time swim, or a relaxing splash after a hard day at the office. We went to the Falls because they had been touted as being a private oasis near the city, perfect for skinny-dipping. "Nobody goes there, even on the weekend," was the local folklore.
We have looked into this and found that its just that... folklore. The stream is clearly visible from the busy dirt road running next to it, and clearly it not any kind of naturist or nudist area what-so-ever.
The Old Jelly Mill Falls are beautiful. And, geologically, they are quite interesting. They look like a granite staircase built by a giant. The rock slabs are stacked up for nearly an eighth of a mile. A clear stream runs down the center of the steps, forming some comfortable looking hot-tub sized pools.
For non-nudists, the Falls are great for a picnic lunch, or a short walk, or even a quick dip. But as a nudist site? Keep your pants on.
From I-91, exit at Route 9, and head into Brattleboro.
Red Rock ParkWe think Vermont is a beautiful state. And Red Rock Park, located on the South edge of the City of Burlington, on the shores of Lake Champlain, is proof. This is unquestionably one of the finest places in the northeast to spend an afternoon sunbathing and swimming. Apparently there is some dispute about clothing being required here; authorities are saying that nudity has never been allowed there, and a hand-written sign says that city ordinance prohibits nudity there. So at the very least, beware.
The walk to the water is through an upland northern White-Cedar forest, which is host to more than 300 species of wildflowers. Birds abound, including the Peleated Woodpecker, and the White Breasted Nuthatch. The forest ends abruptly at the red, Monkton Quartzite cliffs, which drop into Lake Champlain.
The main beach near the parking area is for clothed swimmers. For nude bathing, you will want to head down the trail to the overlook, where you can follow any of a number of smaller trails to the water. At the water's edge, there are plenty of large flat rocks, warmed by the sun, perfect for stretching out upon. There is no sandy beach. Chances are, you will have the place to yourself. However, if someone is already there, don't worry. There are plenty of nooks and crannies in the rocks to find a spot of your own.
The view alone is worth the trip. Two states; two mountain ranges; one lake. Sumptuous. Stunning. Breathtaking.
At the entrance to the park, the friendly gate attendant will hand you map of the park, after she collects the $3 per day parking fee. If you get there and are uncertain of where to go, don't be bashful - Ask. Nudity at Red Rocks Park is known and tolerated.
Shelburne PointAcross Shelburne Bay from Red Rock Park is Shelburne Point, jutting firmly into Lake Champlain. At the very tip is a reportedly popular nude beach. We can understand why.
The beach is covered with small flat pieces of slate (surprisingly comfy with a towel,) and except for beach glass, it is an exceptionally clean site. The water is perfect for wading, though a bit on the chilly side. The views of the Green Mountains, the cliffs at Red Rocks Park, and Burlington are stunning. And, the beach is small and private.
No one was at the beach when we arrived, though it was a sunny Saturday afternoon-- perfect solitude for nude bathing . Yet, sadly, nude days at Shelburne Point may be nearly over. Not far from the beach stands the first of what looks like a large development of very expensive homes. When these houses are built and occupied, access to the beach will be cut-off to all except boaters.
Unfortunately, recent reports are that this privately owned site has been fenced off and posted to prevent tresspassing by the owner.
Parking at Shelburne Point is tricky. There is no parking on most streets nearby. You will have to park on a street a few blocks away, and walk.