Forest Therapy, the art and science of “shinrin-yoku”, is a delightful form of contemplative walking in a wooded area, gently connecting us to the natural world through actively engaging our senses. Sound, sight, smell, taste and touch can heighten our awareness of the intricacy of the life all around us. Intentionally paying attention-while walking slowly, ‘and pausing often- can help us notice so much more than walking to ‘get somewhere’.
The health benefits of forest therapy are numerous: Moving our muscles increases the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids, which helps decrease blood sugar and blood pressure. Our lymphatic system is primarily moved as muscles contract, and that helps rid us of waste products more quickly. Trees emit phytoncides, which are their way of fending off germs and insects…and, happily these aromatic oils stimulate our “natural killer cells”- which are lymphocytes able to bind to bacterial and virus-infected cells and tumor cells, and kill them! NK cells are unique: they have the ability to recognize stressed cells in the absence of antibodies, which allows for a much faster immune reaction.
Forest Therapy Walks & Deep Soak Hikes
Explore the paths and trails around Port Townsend and the Olympic National Forest with your guide Ellen, who will share nature poetry and a guided meditation along the way. Please leave your cell phones and furry companions behind. This is a time to be quiet, to sink into the natural silence of the woods with less of the usual distractions. Donations to our guide are enthusiastically accepted! Thank you in advance.
Forest Therapy: Silent Walks & Hikes- Fall/Winter 2023 Schedule:
Forest Therapy Walks at Fort Worden and Old Fort Townsend State Parks:
- Fort Worden State Park Schedule*:
- We will resume forest bathing in April 2024, to enjoy the beauty of spring in our community! Schedule TBD. Sign up and you will be notified.
*Fort Worden State Park: Walk – Sit – Walk: We will meet and greet in front of the Nora Porter Commons Building, 210 Battery Way.
- Old Fort Townsend State Park Schedule: 2024 dates TBD
*Old Fort Townsend State Park: Walk – Sit – Walk: We will meet and greet by the Parks fee station.
As we enter the ‘cathedral’ of the park spaces we walk comfortably far apart. Our walk follows paths linking the woods and meadows. Several times we will pause, listen to a nature poem, and sit in silence- and perhaps with a bit of guided meditation led by Ellen Falconer, mindfulness teacher. Please wear clothing which will keep you warm and dry, as we may be sitting or standing about in wet, chilly, invigorating weather. Please consider a donation to our guide, either by payment on this page or via a donation box at the start of the adventure!
Come with us for a “Deep Soak” in the forest: All Day Hikes on the Olympic Peninsula:
2024 Dates TBD, stay tuned!
Our day-long hikes are selected to be on easy to moderate trails. Our focus is to take in ‘the atmosphere of the forest’ (shinrin-yoku), walking at a leisurely pace, in silence, pausing often to soak in the subtle and not-so-subtle activities around us. We each bring water and food, bug deterrent, sun screen, hiking sticks, something to write in, and whatever clothing you need. Bandaids for sore heels are a consideration as well. As registration fills and the day of the hike gets closer, we can arrange car-pooling to each trailhead. The forest service roads can be rough- anyone with a car with high clearance and/or all/4 wheel drive who wants to chauffeur hikers will be given cash from the passengers-this is a good way to get to know our fellow hikers before we enter the realm of companionable silence when the hike begins.
Registration is required for each of the Deep Soak forest hikes. All hikers pay Olympic Peninsula Mindfulness $20, plus a donation to volunteer drivers when ride-sharing. A minimum of 4 registrants are required at least a week before the hike. We reserve the right to cancel the event due to low attendance or inclement weather. Thank you!
If you wish to express your gratitude for our local forest therapy “baths”, and as required for the day-long hikes, you can pay the guide in-person, by Venmo, or donate here, via PayPal.
Ellen recites “When I am Among the Trees” by Mary Oliver
Forest Therapy along the Upper Dungeness River
“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding”
– FLUENT, by John O’Donohue. Photo of the Lower Big Quilcene River.