9 GREAT PLACES TO FOREST BATHE IN MINNEAPOLIS - ST. PAUL
Updated: Dec 22, 2022
FOREST BATHING – WHAT IS IT?
You may have been hearing a bit about a new wellness practice recently – it’s called forest bathing, or shinrin yoku. Forest Bathing is the English translation of the Japanese Shinrin Yoku. Shinrin means ‘forest’ in Japanese, Yoku means ‘bath.’ This translates as immersing yourself in the forest air or experiencing the forest with all of your senses.
What it’s not: donning your swimming suit and playing Marco Polo in the trees.
You may be one of those on the vanguard that have already tried this powerful nature connection experience. If you haven’t, there are many certified guides right here in Minnesota who can take you on a transformative, immersive, and meditative journey into the forest.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT PLACE FOR FOREST BATHING?
One of the most exciting elements of taking forest bathing walks here in Minneapolis-St. Paul is the plethora of locations that allow you to disconnect with technology and surround yourself with the woodland air.
A place with good forest cover is a great place to start. But you can also experience the positive benefits in the middle of a native prairie. Here in Minnesota we have remnants of the “Big Woods” ecosystem – which were Maple-Basswood Forests and Oak Woodlands. Maple-Basswood forests tended to succeed Oak Woodlands, so you may find areas with large old oaks paired with smaller maples that outnumber them. This is the fun part of discovery – curiosity and wondering about what this place looked like when our ancestors saw it for the first time.
However, all forests are not created equal. Just because a place has trees does not necessarily make it beneficial for forest bathing. There may be beautiful woods nearby, but they might be located right underneath the airport landing approach, or next to a busy highway. While forest bathing encourages us to embrace all pieces of the human and more-than-human worlds as part of a larger whole, there are times when human sounds become too much of a hindrance to the meditative experience of forest bathing. So, if you find yourself in a place with overwhelming “human” noises it’s okay to look elsewhere.
Safety is also important, especially if you choose to go alone for an unguided sit spot experience or wander in the woods. Clear views and open trails are helpful in this regard. Never go into a locale that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Diverse ecosystems, and/or the ability to connect with water, make great places to forest bathe. Biodiversity is important for life on earth. This means different kinds of birds, small animals, plants, and trees all interdependent for their survival (and ours). This means more elements to hold your interest – birdsong, insects, flowers, fragrances, textures…
WHERE CAN I GO?
The following locales are sprinkled throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. They are some of my favorites that I use often. Each location has unique elements, distinct to its sense of place. These elements may appeal to some people more than others; others may be drawn to an entirely different set of features. I encourage you to explore them all and find the location that speaks most deeply to you.
Supporting these stewards of wild places by our patronage is critical. We all need exposure to nature, kids especially. The more we bring our children and ourselves into the wilds, the better off we all are. The forest can bring us back to ourselves. This list has been updated since it's original publication with a few additional forests. Off we go…
6710 Lake Shore Drive, Richfield, MN 55423 | 612-861-9365