Yesterday, I went on a long hike with a group. The group leaders were hiking barefoot, and the girl I rode with decided to hike barefoot, too. I'd never known anyone to do this before, but the trail was very soft in places, wasn't covered in pebbles, and mainly had tree roots as the foot-bruising thing to watch out for.
Toward the end of the trail, as we were coming to the waterfall that was our destination, the trail was a bit muddy and slippery, especially in the steep descent down to the little beach at the foot of the waterfall. The people hiking barefoot seemed to have much less trouble negotiating the slippery areas than those of us with shoes.
So on the way back, I decided to hike barefoot, too, at least for the slippery parts. I found it much easier to negotiate slippery rocks and steep portions of the trail without my shoes. I enjoyed it so much that I hiked the entire return distance (3.5 miles) barefoot.
So today the soles of my feet are a little tender, but overall my feet feel better than they usually do after a long hike. I'll definitely hike barefoot again, on trails where it makes sense to do so.
Anyone else hike barefoot? If so, do you mind posting trail suggestions? Preferably in the Southeast, but other areas are good, too, as I don't know where I'll end up after grad school.