Forest Bathing in State Road

Riddled with anxiety and trapped in my own head, I’m what Mamaw would’ve called a worrier. Over the years, I’ve tried everything to deal with my racing thoughts: medications, counseling, yoga, journaling. Out of the long list of anxiety coping techniques I’ve used, hiking is by far my favorite. That’s why I couldn’t say no when I was invited up to State Road to see the “Forest Bathing” trail.

Forest bathing, a type of nature therapy, became popular in Japan in the 1980s in response to the mental health crisis arising from the technological boom. Part physical and part psychological, it reduces stress and improves feelings of happiness. Even better, it’s free. All that’s needed is a green space where you can commune with nature. Yes, please!

The first of its kind in North Carolina, the forest bathing trail was the brainchild of my tour guide, Bob Hillyer. He came up with the idea after visiting a similar one in Japan. With the Elkin Valley Trails Association, Bob brought the concept to life in the woods of State Road. 

The “forest bathing” trail is a one-mile loop that starts and ends near Grassy Creek Vineyard. Officially named the Klondike Trail, the path was created for folks to enjoy quiet solitude in the forest. Small benches dot the trail giving visitors a place to sit and experience the beauty of the world around them.

Once serving as a resort to local manufacturing families, the Chathams and the Hanes, Klondike Trail feels like walking straight into a fairy tale. Wild ducks and geese glide along a large pond, the sound of Grassy Creek bubbles, and during the fall, pink-hued leaves adorn the sour gum trees. It’s hard not to feel at peace in such a place.

Stop by the Klondike Trail to give forest bathing a try if you find yourself in State Road. I promise: you won’t regret it!

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