The Famed Nature Spots
The Ledges: Located in Wilmington on the shores of Harriman Reservoir (or Lake Whitingham), the Ledges has served nude sunbathers for generations and is a destination location for regional naturists. The Ledges features a core group of regulars who maintain the location, regularly improving the walkways and natural stairways at the site. Relatively quiet during the week, activity is booming on the weekends in the summer. From the parking lot, walk past the picnic tables and enter a rooty and rocky path along the shore. Cross the water in one of two spots, pending the depths, and you will soon find signs alerting to passersby to nude sunbathers coming up. Some gawkers make the effort to take a peek, but it’s not a nuisance. This is part of a privately maintained reservoir. Gates are typically open from Memorial Day through Indigenous People’s Day weekends. Resources: Friends of the Ledges (older site); The Ledges (last updated 2014); Friends of the Ledges (newer site)
Rock River: A tributary off of the West River and near Route 30 in southern Vermont, the Rock River offers some traditionally clothing optional areas off the beaten path. Park along Route 30 at the spot where on hot summer days the cars seem endless. Signs denote a lowered speed for the “summer recreation area.” Gay Outdoors and Frog Meadow B&B note that as you proceed up the trails, you move from the clothed beach to the nude beach that is a mix of straight and gay people, to the noted gay nude beach a half hour up the trail. Both websites mention that there is a reputation for cruising on the trail, but that the atmosphere at the water is more chill. Cruising does not fit within the non-sexual tenets of nudism/naturism, so this might not be the optimal choice for many adherents. Allow common sense and respect to govern your choices. Resources: Rock River Preservation, Inc.; Gay Outdoors; Frog Meadow B&B
Lake Willoughby: The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont features the 5-mile-long Lake Willoughby at Westmore and in the Willoughby State Forest. The south end of the lake features a clothing optional destination. Take Route 5A off of Route 5 north into the state forest and toward the lake. From the lake’s first parking lot on the left, follow the trail to the beach at the southwest cove. This glacial lake sits between two mountains and offers views of cliffs and fjords. Toward the end of 2017, there were news reports that the Selectboard was seeking input on a potential public indecency ordinance. This was due to reports of harassment of others by nude beachgoers. People who frequent the beach said they never experienced such behavior. While the Selectboard heard complaints, the sheriff’s office had not. A poll taken at the 2018 Town Meeting yielded a 50/50 response about whether or not an ordinance should be put in place. At the July 23, 2018, meeting, the board reported there were no complaints and no action would be taken this year. This is one to watch.
The Punch Bowl: Even the Burlington Free Press has noted that the Punch Bowl is a public nude venue in Vermont. It’s a swimming hole on the Mad River in Waitsfield, which is about a half hour southwest of Montpelier. From Waitsfield, go south on Route 100 and turn right onto a well-marked dirt road right across from Yestermorrow Design/Build School. Park and walk in. Resource: Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce
Lesser Known Indoors and Outdoors
SwimmingHoles Dot Org: Reports of various swimming holes in Vermont, some with notation on whether or not swimsuits are required, if the information is known. Resource: SwimmingHoles.org
Practicing at Home: Generally speaking, Vermont is laissez-faire about outdoor non-sexual nudity. If you live here, be aware of local ordinances regarding nudity on your property.
Coventry Club & Resort: About a half hour north of Burlington in Milton, this is a family-oriented nudist (not clothing-optional) club and campground. Affiliated with The Naturist Society and the Federation of Canadian Naturists, they offer annual and daily membership options with space for RVs to hook up, tent camping, and cabin vacationing from May to September. Resource: Coventry’s website
Abbott’s Glen: Boasting a night club, restaurant, pitch-and-put golf course, Finnish sauna, hot tubs, yoga availability, and a swimming pond on its 55 acres, this clothing optional inn offers respite for overnight guests at the inn or on their campground. Singles, couples, and families are also welcome as day guests, and first-time visitors are required to call ahead. Located near The Ledges in West Halifax, the inn is affiliated with The Naturist Society and AANR and is open year round. Resource: Abbott’s Glen’s website