Shrinrin-yoku – the practice of ‘forest bathing’ that originally hailed from Japan – has gained prominence as much of the world grapples with a nature deficit.
In Vancouver, we’re fortunate that life’s quick pace is balanced by the opportunity to slow down and bask in forested areas and urban parks. Beyond the city’s limits, the surrounding areas also offer their fair share of wonderful spots for this activity.
So, if you’re contemplating a break from the daily grind and planning a forest bathing journey, here are the top eight spots to explore!
Location: Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4, Canada
Stanley Park in Vancouver is an ideal (not to add, convenient) location for forest bathing. Covering over 1,000 acres, the park holds old-growth forests, towering cedar and fir trees, and along the waterfront, a scenic seawall providing escape from the city.
Within Stanley Park, you can engage in mindful activities such as slow, contemplative walks on its numerous trails, including the Meadow Trail and Tatlow Trail.
The fresh air carries the earthy fragrance of moss-covered trees and the gentle rustling of leaves. It’s a good place to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and scents of the forest.
For a quieter and more meditative atmosphere, consider visiting during the early morning or late afternoon. This timing maximizes the benefits of reduced stress, improved mood, and decreased fatigue associated with forest bathing.
You can also join one of the guided forest bathing sessions held in Stanley Park.
The Stanley Park Ecology Society hosted one in June 2023. Alternatively, Aboriginal & Eco Tours offers forest bathing sessions for groups of two to 18 people.
Everett Crowley Park
Location: 8200 Kerr St, Vancouver, BC V5S 4G5, Canada
Everett Crowley Park has a unique history, once serving as a landfill before being transformed into a recreational haven.
It’s the fifth-largest park in Vancouver, and it now houses a diverse range of trees, including cottonwoods, spruce, hemlock, and maple, along with an array of wildflowers and wildlife.
The park offers a variety of trails, with most encircling its perimeter, while smaller, unnamed paths can also be explored. One notable trail, the Vista Way Trail, leads to a viewpoint on the North Edge of the Fraser River.
Everett Crowley Park hosts the city’s longest-standing annual Earth Day celebration. If you’re seeking more ways to connect with nature, consider participating in tree planting, birdwatching, and educational walks organized as part of this event.
Pacific Spirit Regional Park
Location: 5495 Chancellor Blvd, Vancouver, BC V6T 1E4, Canada
Located in the heart of Greater Vancouver, this park encompasses 874 hectares of lush, temperate rainforest, which makes it an ideal setting for this therapeutic practice.
The park features a network of well-maintained trails, such as the Salish Trail which winds through Hemlock, Cedar, and Maple Leaf trees and links up to the Imperial Trail.
One of the unique aspects of Pacific Spirit Regional Park is its proximity to the University of British Columbia (UBC), which ensures that the park remains relatively uncrowded, even during peak times.
For an even more peaceful forest bathing experience at Pacific Spirit Regional Park, avoid the bicycle-friendly trails and opt for the pedestrian-focused paths.
If you enjoy the company of a furry friend, rest assured that the park is dog-friendly, but be sure to choose trails designated as suitable for dogs to maintain a harmonious and tranquil environment for all forest bathers.
Location: 4902 Beacon Ln, West Vancouver, BC V7W 1K5, Canada
Aside from offering a historical attraction and a dramatic rocky shoreline, the Lighthouse Park has serene woodland trails which are an ideal spot for this rejuvenating practice.
As you wander through the park’s trails, like the Arbutus Loop or Juniper Point Trail, you’ll be surrounded by towering Douglas fir and arbutus trees.
The dense forest set against the backdrop of the shimmering ocean is the ideal mix.
The sound of waves crashing against the rugged coastline and the fresh sea breeze are a unique way of waking up your senses during your forest bathing.
Additionally, Lighthouse Park’s location in West Vancouver offers a convenient escape from the city, and it’s a well-loved spot for nature lovers, so the trails are always in great shape.
Starting in the fall of 2023, parking at Lighthouse Park isn’t free anymore – Make sure you’ve got at least CAD 3.75 in your pocket for parking.
Location: 2369 Lillooet Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7J 2H9, Canada
Rice Lake, tucked away in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve in North Vancouver, is a wonderful spot for forest bathing.
This peaceful lake is surrounded by a dense, verdant forest, which makes it an ideal destination for those seeking a pristine wilderness escape.
The trails encircling Rice Lake, like the Rice Lake Loop Trail, meander through towering cedar and hemlock trees. The clear waters of the lake mirror the lush greenery, adding to the overall sense of peace and relaxation.
You’ll also be treated to the soothing sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. This natural symphony helps you disconnect from the busyness of everyday life and truly immerse yourself in the present moment.
Rice Lake is also situated on the edge of Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. If you want to extend your forest bathing session, you can easily explore this adjacent area.
Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area
Location: 800 Burnaby Mountain Pkwy, Burnaby, BC V5A 1G9, Canada
Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, just around 20 minutes from Vancouver, is a natural retreat that features a blend of dense forests, picturesque viewpoints, and serene trails, which make for an excellent setting for forest bathing.
The trails on Burnaby Mountain, such as the Velodrome Trail and Trans Canada Trail, wind through towering Douglas fir and cedar trees.
While the gentle rustling of leaves invites you to fully engage with the present, you’ll be serenaded by the songs of various bird species, such as the melodious Pacific wren and the distinctive drumming of the pileated woodpecker.
Burnaby Mountain also offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area, including Burrard Inlet, the North Shore Mountains, and the cityscape of Vancouver.
In addition to its forests, Burnaby Mountain is home to diverse ecosystems, including meadows and wetlands. Exploring these different environments while forest bathing can enhance your connection with nature and offer a richer experience.
Burnaby Mountain showcases the beauty of changing seasons, from vibrant foliage in the fall to lush greenery in the spring and summer. These seasonal transitions provide unique opportunities for forest bathing throughout the year.
Capilano Canyon is home to lush temperate rainforests featuring magnificent Douglas fir and western red cedar trees. These ancient giants provide a serene and immersive forest environment for your forest bathing experience.
The well-maintained trails passing through Capilano Canyon offer a unique natural experience. For instance, Canyon Loop Trail offers several lookout points for the canyon, as well as Cleveland Dam and Capilano Lake.
On top of providing the perfect setting for walking, you’ll be treated to the soothing sounds of the rushing Capilano River which encourages tuning in to the inner self.
The nearby Capilano Suspension Bridge adds an exciting element to your visit, allowing you to experience the forest from a unique perspective before or after your forest bathing session.
Golden Ears Park
Location: 24480 Fern Crescent Maple Ridge, BC V4R 2S1.
Golden Ears Park boasts diverse ecosystems, including lush rainforests, serene lakes, and rugged mountains. This variety allows you to choose the ideal setting for your forest bathing experience.
The park features several pristine lakes, such as Alouette Lake and Gold Creek, , where calm waters are enveloped by towering trees. This opens the opportunity to engage with the forest’s sights and sounds while strolling along the water’s edge.
There are also a number of trails here, such as Lower Falls Trail and the East Canyon Trail, that will lead you through forested areas.
These trails give you views of the diverse wildlife in the park, like the majestic bald eagles. Observing and listening to the natural inhabitants of the forest can enhance your connection with nature during your forest bathing session.
Golden Ears Provincial Park lacks cell service in most areas, including trails, campgrounds, and the main Alouette Lake beach area. If you seek a place to truly disconnect and immerse yourself in nature, this park provides an excellent opportunity to do so.