The Japanese have a term, Shinrin-yoku, that means “forest bathing” — a visit to the forest for relaxation, a chance to stroll through nature and take in the atmosphere for one’s well-being.
Walking in the forest is refreshing for your body and soul.
On an early morning in late October, my son and I took a walk at Eno River State Park. We didn’t have much time, because he had an appointment coming up. But it was a clear, cool fall day, the leaves were changing, and the perfect day to experience the park.
I love hiking in the fall here in North Carolina, but I have to grab the chance while I can. Especially if you’re only able to do it on weekends — the window of opportunity is small to experience the fall leaves, and on a day where it’s not raining. In the past, I’ve waited too long and then a typical fall rain and wind storm comes, and then that’s it for the leaves…too late.
Most of us think of hiking as an hours-long experience, especially at a large park like Eno River. And as a result, we may put off doing it because we are waiting until we have the time. For many of us, that “perfect” time just doesn’t come.
As my children have gotten older and we are all juggling busy lives and careers, I’ve learned that outings with them can be spontaneous and shorter than I might like, and still be just as meaningful and enjoyable.
When you have an opportunity, no matter how short, just go. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you.
Here’s a photo tour of our 30 minute hike at Eno River State Park.
Located near Durham and Hillsborough, N.C., Eno River State Park encompasses 4,000 acres and has 28 miles of hiking trails. They vary from easy to moderate in difficulty, and vary in length from a half-mile to 3.75 miles. Longer hikes can be accomplished by combining any of the 17 trails. Trails meander through the forest, and sections run along the shallow Eno River. Large rocks along the river’s edge allow you to walk out, sit and enjoy the experience for as long as you’d like.
This day, we saw just a fraction of the park. We walked down to the river access, on the trail along the river a bit, looping back up to the parking lot through the forest. It was about 0.75 mile round trip, and included a steep area with rocks for steps down to the river, and returning through the forest trail on an incline back up to the parking area.
Unwind with the sounds of water gently rushing over the rocks, and birds singing.
My “forest bathing” that day may have been a quick shower and not the two-hour hot tub experience I’d prefer, but I’ll take what I can get. I left physically and mentally refreshed, and I look forward to coming back soon to enjoy the rest of the park.
For more information, see Eno River State Park on the N.C. State Parks website.