Go Forest Bathing

Are you looking for a pristine place to practice the outdoor trend that became a huge phenomenon during the pandemic? 

For the uninitiated, forest bathing became trendy in Japan in the 1980s. It made a “splash” on the West Coast about 10 years ago and traveled East. It entails the practice of “immersing” yourself – in a mindful way – in nature. The Japanese discovered that by disconnecting from technology and tuning into the natural world, forest bathers experienced an improvement in their mental and physical well-being. Think of it as wandering through the woods as opposed to hiking with the intent to get from Point A to Point B at a swift pace. 

There’s a spot along the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail that’s perfect for forest bathing thanks to the efforts of the Lancaster Conservancy (and its partners), which continues to play an active role in preserving our riverlands in both Lancaster and York counties. One such preserve is located in Falmouth. From the parking lot, it’s a short walk to the Falmouth Forest Garden. The restored floodplain garden is filled with trees such as black walnut, persimmon, pawpaw and hazelnut. Shrubs such as native serviceberry and elderberry have been reintroduced, as well. Groundcover includes native herbs and wildflowers. It’s interesting and educational. 

Walk on through the Conoy Wetlands Nature Preserve and you’re surrounded by towering trees. Birds sing. Bees buzz. Butterflies flutter about. Fishermen steal an hour to put rod to water. Soon, you hear the sound of rushing water. A bridge provides a view of creek water tumbling over rocks as it makes its way to the river. 

Next up is the jackpot – a wetlands area whose mirror-like water reflects the trees and sky. A shelter with observation windows allows you to become one with nature. It’s absolutely beautiful. 

Jordan Bush and I walked four miles without even realizing it. We both rated the experience as a wow! 

For information about the preserves maintained by the Lancaster Conservancy, visit lancasterconservancy.org.

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