People have experienced the rejuvenating benefits of a warm bath. Just as immersing oneself in warm water has health benefits, so does immersing oneself in nature according to recent studies. The Japanese call this “forest bathing,” and the benefits include stress reduction and mood elevation. When the rigors of studying become too much, students in the Academic English Studies (AES) department have plenty of options for forest bathing.
Lewis & Clark College is routinely voted one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. The college sits on top of a hill in southwest Portland overlooking Mount Hood. The Lewis & Clark campus has a wonderful combination of natural forest and beautiful landscaping among tall trees. One of my favorite paths meanders behind the library and offers views of the reflection pools and Mount Hood. AES students do not need to travel far for a forest bath.
Tryon Creek State Natural Area is a short walk from Lewis & Clark College. There are over 650 acres of lush forest, including 8 miles of hiking trails. Because Tryon Creek is so close to campus, students can easily take a forest bath here in between classes. The park is very safe and there are a variety of trails for all levels of ability. There is even a 3-mile paved bike path. Another benefit of this park is the opportunity to see wildlife such as owls, deer, and rabbits.
Council Crest is fairly close to Lewis & Clark College, but it is not within walking distance. However, there are public buses that go there, and it is certainly worth the effort. Council Crest offers stunning views of five snow-capped mountains: Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and Mount Jefferson. While most people drive or take the bus, it is possible to hike up to this beautiful park.
Forest Park is the largest park on this list with 5,200 acres. According to the Forest Park Conservancy, it is “one of the largest urban forests in the country.” With 70 miles (110 kilometers) of trails, there are plenty of opportunities to bathe in the forest. Forest Park is 23 miles north of Lewis & Clark College and can be accessed via bus at several different points. Because the park is very large and has many trails, deciding on a trail can be overwhelming. This Portland Monthly article, “8 Essential Forest Park Hikes,” can help.
Mt. Tabor is the only park on this list that is located east of the Willamette River, locally referred to as “the eastside.” There are over 190 acres and miles of paved and unpaved trails on which people can hike or bike. And it is easily accessed by bus. One of Mt. Tabor’s most attractive features is its view of downtown Portland. Because this view faces west, it is a popular place to enjoy the sunset. Even though many people go to Mt. Tabor, it is always possible to find a trail that offers solitude and a peaceful place to forest bathe.
These are just a few examples of the parks in Portland. There are many more! I hope you have the opportunity to visit Portland and experience forest bathing in this majestic Pacific Northwest wonderland.