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Summer of 2006. Amid all the New England rainfall in the early summer of 2006, I had the luck of a mostly sunny day and an opportunity to escape to The Ledges on Harriman Reservoir in Vermont. The Ledges are named for the rock outcroppings along the shoreline when the reservoir is down from its high water level. This area is owned by the Pacific Gas and Electric National Energy Group, and has enjoyed a clothing-optional tradition for decades….which qualifies as a rare and special place for New England naturists and visitors.
To get there, using the town of Wilmington along Route 9 in south central Vermont as a reference point (about 9 miles north of the Massachusetts border): follow Rt. 9 east for about a mile and turn right on Rt. 100 (south). Continue 1.2 miles and bear…I mean bare…right on Boyd Hill Road. This is a hard-packed dirt road; continue straight on Boyd Hill Rd. for another 1.2 miles to arrive at a picnic area with parking along the shore of Harriman Reservoir.
1. Photomap of Harriman Reservoir.
2. The parking/picnic area offers tables, grills, grassy areas for recreation, and swim areas. Parking space fills up fast on pleasant summer days, so it’s best to get there by 10 A.M. There are a couple of porta-potties near the picnic area and at the lower parking area.
The clothing-optional area is located across a cove to the right of the picnic area. To get there, go to the far right end of the parking lot and continue along the shoreline trail.
3. View across Harriman Reservoir from the picnic area, looking toward The Ledges.
4. A closer view of the clothing-optional area, also taken from the picnic area later in the day, with cloudier skies.
5. A closer zoom with ant-sized naturists barely visible (get it?....daahhh!!) at the main gathering area.
6. Another closer, cropped view...this was the limit of my 3X optical zoom.
7-9. It's an easy 5-minute walk along the woodland trail skirting the cove (unless you stop frequently to take pix); a little shortcut has been built over the back end of the cove.
It started off as a mostly sunny day, which later turned to variable cloudy skies. There were only 3 people in the area when I arrived in the late morning. The reservoir was unusually high for that time of year, due to above-average rainfall. There wasn’t a whole lot of sunny real estate available, as most of the rock ledges remained submerged. When the water lowers during the summer, there’s much more shoreline for sunbathers to enjoy, and a small sandy beach where the trail first meets up with the clothing-optional area.
10. View from the highest rock ledge; note the bases of the trees still under water.
11. Same vantage point, looking to the right. There are usually more rock shelves below to lounge on; this is where most of the visitors gathered that day.
12. Just a bit further down the trail is a rope swing, mostly used by young textiles; during my visit, a family with young kids was there…none of the textiles seem to mind the nudists they must pass in order to get to the swing. Even with the high reservoir level, it’s about a 15-foot drop to the water.
13. The trail continues for about a quarter mile; it was blocked off where it gets close to being in view from nearby residences along the reservoir.
It was a fairly quiet weekday when I visited, and the water temperature was still rather chilly. About 15 nudists were in the main gathering area during the busiest part of the afternoon. I’ve been told there can easily be more than 200 visitors on days during hot summer weekends; about 4 years ago, I counted 75 people from a single viewpoint. The Ledges is a very pleasant spot for nudists of all ages. However, I must mention a couple of detractors: like most unofficial clothing optional places, it’s subject to gawkers (easy to hide among the tree line) and the occasional perv. The regulars, along with local law enforcement, do a pretty good job at neutralizing the aforementioned intruders; lewd visitors are invariably arrested if caught. Another threat is the development encroaching on The Ledges. About 3 years ago, the town enacted an ordinance banning nudity there, spurred by not-so-liberal nearby residents and land owners. This was overturned by a narrow margin during a subsequent general election, thanks in part to Friends of the Ledges efforts, and the “live and let live” attitudes of enough Wilmington residents. The major drawback that limits The Ledges’ popularity is the short warm season and limited number of sunny weekends afforded to this locale. That seems to suit the regular visitors just fine.
14. A bit too shady for this Southwesterner’s open-space preference.
More info on The Ledges can be found on the site linked below:
15. Oh yeah, I almost forgot….though this is not a hot spring report, you still get the lazy naturist’s feet with the scenery.
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