June 17th, 2019

Tiny Travels: These places for forest bathing near McMinnville are perfection.

Baths solve everything, but you don’t need a tub. If you’re traveling to McMinnville, think about weaving in a little forest bathing, a new/old practice that might be the perfect add-on for any trip to the area.

Forest Bathing

Just what is forest bathing? It is both as old as time – people have always lived in relationship to nature – and as new as the 1980s. During that go-getting decade, people in Japan developed the idea of Shinrin-yoku as a way to combat the stresses of modern life through regular immersion in the woods.

In the period since, studies have noted specific health benefits beyond the catchall term stress reduction. They include benefits you can feel in your body directly, like improved mood, increased ability to focus, increased energy levels, and improved sleep, to improved indicators for overall health like reduced blood pressure and a boost to the body’s ability to combat disease.

These are all great, but personally, I’m just as hung up on the intangibles, the things harder to measure, which have been reported with forest bathing. These include benefits like clearer intuition, better ability to communicate, deepening social ties, and an increase in overall happiness. 

If you’re suddenly thinking: “Get me some woods, stat!” then I have some places for you.

Best places and events to forest bathe in and around McMinnville

Forest bathing series:
Yoga teacher and owner of 4 Elements Yoga Erin Bowman brings regular forest bathing group sessions to local parks this summer.  Check in for guided forest bathing events on July 6, 13, 20, and 27 and August 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31. Contact McMinnville Parks & Recreation for more info.

Summer Event (July 19-21):
Artist Day Schildkret, a creator of impermanent earth art, comes to McMinnville for a weekend immersion with 4 Elements Yoga. The event includes a community creation of impermanent nature-inspired art, forest bathing, and a weekend workshop. Contact 4 Elements Yoga for details.

Miller Woods
This nature reserve located three miles west of McMinnville features 130 acres of woodland, grassland, as well as miles of unpaved forest paths with possibilities for hikers of all abilities.Commune with the majesty of native oaks right near the parking lot, or immerse yourself completely in a forest bath of Doug fir.

Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge
Bird is the word, but native oaks are the silent speakers here. This refuge was set aside as a habitat for bird species, but includes a native oak savanna perfect for forest bathing. The trail you want is called the Rich Guadagno Memorial Loop Trail and leads you through a sumptuous white oak perched on one of those classic Willamette Valley hilltop.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey
Silent walks and forest bathing are a pure delight at this abbey between Lafayette and Carlton, where visitors can spend an afternoon in quiet reflection among the trees, the sun, and the passing clouds. Be cognizant that you are sharing space with a monastery as you enjoy the reflection pond and the trails around a restored native oak savanna.

Where is your favorite place to forest bathe? Have you tried it?

Emily Grosvenor is Editor of Oregon Home Magazine and head storyteller for #McMinnvilleDentist.  Follow her on Instagram @emilygrosvenor.