When is a walk in the woods not just a walk in the woods? When it’s forest bathing, of course. Forest bathing, also known as forest therapy, is a practice that involves a slow walk in the woods while taking in the sights, sounds, smells, feel and even tastes of your surroundings. Forest bathing in Vancouver, Canada, is highly accessible to visitors and residents. All you need is a pair of walking shoes and a desire to get in touch with nature in a slow travel sort of way.
Okay, so we’re clear that forest bathing is not about donning bikinis and soaking in forest ponds, right? What you may have thought of as a simple walk in the woods can actually be a holistic therapy practice. Forest bathing, known as shinrin-yoku in Japan, is the practice of mindful enjoyment of forests and nature. This therapeutic travel trend is now catching on around the world. It’s fairly easy to undertake forest bathing in Canada, where forests, lakes and rivers reign supreme. Even close to major urban centers.
Forest bathing is all about exploring the forest mindfully, focused on the sights, smells and sounds of your natural surroundings. The rustling of leaves, the sound of wind in the pine branches, the smell of earth and the forest floor. You need to touch the trees and their bark, graze hands over fern fronds and feel the tall grasses. You’re here to feel the living natural world around you – think of it as an immersive bit of outdoor education.
Why Forest Bathing
For many urban dwellers and families, nature deficit disorder is real thing. Many people do not have access to the natural world in an easy or inexpensive way. Fortunately for those living or visiting Vancouver, there is no such issue. Access to nature is relatively easy, and the forests are close at hand. We can get our kids in nature within 30 minutes or less, which has a profound impact on their (and our own) mental and physical health. Studies have shown that time spent in nature, walking or forest bathing lightens our mood and improves our mental well-being.
Forest bathing in Vancouver is easy. All you have to do is find a forest and explore. It’s the perfect activity for health conscious travellers or individuals on a budget. There’s nothing more budget-friendly than putting on walking shoes and heading out into the closest forest trail near you.
Best Spots for Forest Bathing in Vancouver
I’ve chosen five of the best forest bathing spots near me in Vancouver, British Columbia. Many of these are accessible to visitors and tourists too. So lace up those walking shoes and head out to one of these parks to enjoy some serious forest bathing in Vancouver.
The most beloved park in Vancouver offers more than 27 kilometers of trails lined by towering cedar, hemlock and fir trees. Stanley Park’s proximity to the West End and downtown Vancouver permits residents and visitors leave the urban jungle to easily access trails, ponds, and scenic viewpoints.
Lynn Canyon Park
On the North Shore, Lynn Canyon Park features miles of tree-lined trails, including portions of the challenging Baden-Powell Trail that runs the length of the north shore mountains. Stroll across the Park’s Suspension Bridge for free, and check out the Lynn Loop in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park.
Pacific Spirit Park
This park covers more than 763 hectares of lush west coast rainforest, including more than 50 kilometers of trails. Pacific Spirit Park extends down to a beautiful foreshore along the Point Grey Peninsula, and includes secluded clothing-optional Wreak Beach. The forest lands, which include creeks, bogs and a small canyon, separate UBC from the city of Vancouver.
UBC Endowment Lands
The UBC Endowment Lands share some of the same space as Pacific Spirit Park. The only real difference is a jurisdictional one that makes no real difference to the forest bather. Walking closer to the UBC campus will give bathers access to cafes, restaurants and the many museums located at the University of British Columbia.
Everett Crowley Park
This hidden green sanctuary is located in the Killarney neighborhood in southeast Vancouver. The 38 hectares of Everett Crowley Park include forest trails, walking loops, meadows, ponds, and scenic viewpoints of the Fraser River. Most importantly, this and the other parks allow forest bathers to slowly make their way through the woods, watch and listen for birds, and take time to stop and smell the flowers.
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