The Japanese practice of “forest bathing,” — shinrin-yoku in Japanese — which involves, just like it sounds, a trip to the forest, is front and center in the wellness world.
The Japanese term literally means “to bring in the forest,” and it is founded in the idea that whereas now we reside in urban areas full of stimuli and stressors, for millions of years humans lived in forests and spent time in nature. Research shows the positive impact of greenery and nature to our overall health. It is purported to offer a ton of health benefits that yoga in a secluded room indoors just can’t offer. In fact, more and more studies are finding that spending time in nature produces anti-inflammatory effects, lowered cortisol levels and even a healthier microbiome. Exposure to nature also has the added effect of reducing cognitive decline and headaches and is also a proven meditative activity.
And the good thing is that to forest bathe you do not even need to make a mile goal, all you have to do is spend time waking or meditating amongst the trees. Though the practice has been around for decades, it is becoming so popular that the U.S. Association of Nature & Forests Therapy trained more than 700 guides in 46 countries by the end of 2018.
This is why you should book a trip somewhere you can get away from the bustle of the city and see the sights on foot. Here are our top five recommendations that can get you started, gear and experience not necessary.
1. Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles (mileage depends on loop)
This is a classic — especially for those of us who can’t trek too far out of the city, or simply need to embrace the trend in baby steps. Runyon Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Los Angeles, providing hikers with one of the best views of Hollywood. While it will not be a meditative and silent hike — but you have the benefit of people watching — it is a good introductory hike. You can do anything from a 1.9-mile loop, or a 3.3-mile hike to the top of the park with 800 feet of elevation change.
2. The West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island (46 miles)
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“Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savoring must come first.” With all the troubles facing the planet, it can be hard at times to keep hope alive & your spirit bright. I find it helps to look back to nature itself though for energy and inspiration, keeping this quote in mind from E.B. White. – – #earthday #earthday2019 #earthdayeveryday #aerial #aerialphotogrpahy #brookspeninsula #conservation #conservationphotography #explorebc #explorevanisle #vancouverisland #sharevi #pnw #pnwcollective #pnwwonderland #greatoutdoors #explorebeyondtheusual #mindfulexplorer #yyj
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This route is renowned as perhaps Canada’s most iconic hiking trail. Though it is a little more advanced — the complete trail itself extends over 46 miles — you do not need to commit to the full 5-7 day hike to enjoy the benefits of its stunning scenery. And, hikers of all abilities can pay it a visit. The trail weaves through deserted beaches and the lush forest of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. It is open May through September, and if you are planning on hiking all of it or half you must reserve with Parks Canada. Additionally, there are comfort luxury camping tents and cabins in a private campsite for those hikers passing through the Tsuquanah Reserve at Tsuquadra Point on the trail.
3. Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park, California (3 miles or 7 miles)
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In honor of #earthday 🌍, here is a #nationaltreasure that I hope lives through the rest of time. This view reminds me of what would be on a puzzle. You’ll find this view by taking the #misttrail 🦶. Remember to bring or buy your #nationalparkannualpass 👍. #travelphotography #travelusa #travelblogger #travelcommunity #travelgram #traveladdict #travelholic #traveltips #travelguide #bucketlist #wheretonext #nature #hiking #waterfall #picturesque
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Yosemite is one of the United States’ most notable parks in California’s beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, and its Mist Trail is one of its most famous treks. It snakes alongside two waterfalls, Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, “misting” its hikers with a fair amount of refreshing water, earning its name. Roughly 3 miles roundtrip to Vernal Fall, and a 7-mile roundtrip to Nevada Fall, it is one of Yosemite’s most popular trails thanks to its views scattered all along it and ending in perhaps the most notable view of them all: Nevada Fall, Liberty Cap and the back of the Half Dome. The best time to visit is during peak runoff season, which generally goes from April to July. Lasting Adventures offers guided hikes where you can meet up with fellow travelers and make some new friends!
4. Nelson and Kootenay Lake, British Columbia (mileage depends on trail)
This region has been dubbed a hiker’s paradise, with its lush mountains and serene lakes. Connect with locals hikers through the Kootenay Mountaineering Club, read up on trail reviews at West Kootenay Hiking, or better yet, book your trip with Mountain Trek. The all-inclusive retreat zeroes in on improving health and wellness through 3-4 hours of daily Nordic Hiking, immersion in nature and a stay at a lodge in the mountains with only 16 other guests.
5. North Vista Trail, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado (3 miles)
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Absolutely incredible… I might even go as far to say I like this place better than the Grand Canyon! I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts that’s been to both!! • • • • • • • • • • • #blackcanyonofthegunnison #nationalpark #nps #blackcanyonofthegunnisonnationalpark #nature #canyon #colorado #view #travel #wander #explore #roadtrip #getoutside #ontheroad #adventure #sheexplores #optoutside #amazing
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You do not have to wander far off the visitor’s center to get to peer 1,800-feet down the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which is one of the biggest and steepest canyons in the world, thanks to the carvings of the Gunnison River. You will get to stroll three miles roundtrip pretty easily through the pines and junipers on the north rim to even more amazing views — most of the route is through woodland and the summit is also partly forested, but easy to follow and not too steep. And the only thing you will really need is binoculars so you can spot the bluebirds and falcons that roam in the area.
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