For decades, visitors were free to bare it all while hiking and sunbathing at a spot along Coxing Kill in the Mohonk Preserve, just downstream from the Split Rock wading area.
Since the 1980s, The Preserve allowed the tradition to continue in this tiny nook, and even posted signs leading to the area warning visitors: “You may encounter nudity beyond this point.”
In recent years, though, word of the clothing-optional haven spread on social media, drawing visitors from across New York state, where — by the way — public nudity is illegal.
The growing fame of the nude wading and hiking spot forced a rule change this week that requires visitors to be clothed at all times.
Signs along the trail now read: “Clothing Required Throughout Preserve Property.”
Management said in a statement they had to ban nudity after noticing environmental harm, such as erosion and unauthorized trails, and receiving more complaints.
“Additionally, visitors persistently engaged in inappropriate public behavior in an area just yards away from where families and other visitors were enjoying the trail and Split Rock wading area,” management wrote in a statement explaining the decision. “Further, public nudity is prohibited by New York State Law."
“Our goal is for all people to have a positive experience in nature,” said Gretchen Reed, Mohonk Preserve’s director of communications and marketing.
Reed told Spectrum News the emergence of social media changed everything.
“People are showing up in groups of 20 people so it has really changed dynamic of how that area is getting used,” she said. “And then also with the rise in — unfortunately — illicit activities in and around the area.”
There has been some resistance.
Several of the new ‘clothing required’ signs were pulled down, and a petition is circulating online with hopes of bringing back the clothes-optional freedom.
As Spectrum News arrived at the formerly clothing-optional area, Ranger Frank Tkac had to notify a nude sunbather of the new rules.
“I asked him to put his shorts on,” Tkac said afterward. “He thought he was allowed to be nude. I told him we had a change of policy.”
The new policy has not banned any visitors, and the Preserve is open during its usual hours.