Apr 13, 2019

Forest Bathing in Central New York

The sun and warmer weather have finally arrived so it is time to head to the forest. Central New York winters are long and the summers are short but there are days from when the snow melt to when the first snowflakes fall that make Central New York the best place in the world.  After months of cabin fever people are anxious to get outdoors but many people do not realize the benefits of spending time in nature.  

The idea that spending time in the natural world with no head phones and no cell phones is not new.  The Japanese healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy is the medicine of simply being in the forest. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.  It is simple and free, just go to a forest, sit for a while or walk slowly. No need to go au natural or be prone. It is best to go alone but it you are with other people spread out and no talking. Stop, look, and listen. Shinrin-yoku in turn led to the founding of Nature and Forest Therapists, worldwide, offering guides, and
workshops. Therapists create a “sequence of guided events that provides structure to the experience, while embracing the many opportunities for creativity and serendipity offered by the forest.”
Some of the benefits from walking in the forest may come from the fact that there is more oxygen in the forest since trees give off oxygen; and, being distant from man-made noises creates a feeling of escape and freedom. Regardless, Central New Yorkers are fortunate because they are never more than a few minutes’ drive to secluded forest area. 

Check out Beaver Lake Nature center where there are over nine
miles of trails, each one a different. Check out Hemlock Hollow, a short walk through the woods that is a shaded hide-away or the Deep Woods Trail, a 1.4 trail through the serenity of a mature forest. The 1.1 mile Woodland trail has a variety of hardwoods along the winding trail. Many of the trails have places where you can sit and contemplate nature.  My favorite trail has always been the Bog Trail, an elevated walkway through a unique habitat different than the other trails. 

Another of my favorites is the trail to the beaver dam at the Amboy
4-H Environment Education Center.  The beaver-built dams may be destroyed by man or nature but the persistent ‘eager beavers’ continue to build new dams; it is where they live.  This is where it is important to trod quietly so as not to alert the beavers to intruders in their habitat. Down the road a short distance is the Amboy Nature Center.

On my to-do list is the Richard A. Noyes Sanctuary at Nine Mile Point.  I have not been there since my old Girl Scout leader days. Bird watching is the perfect activity for communing with nature and spring is the perfect time to look for migrating owls and other birds while walking through the 90-acre sanctuary.

The New York State Department of Recreation has a web site that
provides information on a wide variety of hiking places for all level of hiking abilities some of which are even handicap accessible. Find your own perfect place to ‘forest bath’ and get the health benefits. So no excuses head to the forest.