December 5, 2018

Best places to forest bathe

Forest bathing or shinrin-yoku started in Japan but it’s a concept taking hold in the Columbia Valley. In case you’re wondering, no clothes are removed for forest bathing. Think instead of deep, cleansing breaths, mindful steps, the smell of pine, the sight of a butterfly’s flight, or the sound of wind.

A study in Japan showed that people spending time in the forest inhale beneficial bacteria and negatively charged ions. The result is a reduction in stress.

To start your forest bathing connect to the natural world by disconnecting and leave your phone and camera behind or at least turn it off. Open all your senses to the forest.

You can do forest bathing on your own, in a group or as part of guided tour but don’t mistake it for hiking. The focus is on the journey, not the destination, and the pace is much, much slower. Hearken back to your childhood when you spent an hour following a caterpillar across the grass.

Some people find it most beneficial to walk silently, others like to talk softly with others. Enjoy the time to turn inwards with contemplative experiences.

Any natural area can be used for forest bathing but some of our favorites are Sinclair Creek Pathway, Old Coach Trail, Fairmont’s Hoodoos Trail, and Lower Bugaboo Falls. Be sure to respect trail boundaries and stay away from cliff edges.

For people with mobility challenges the shorter and flatter Columbia Valley Botanical Gardens Trail offers the sounds of Dorothy Lake fountains and the smells of a community heritage garden managed by the Columbia Valley Botanical Gardens & Centre for Sustainable Living.


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