Central New York offers several hiking spots to clear your mind and soothe stress.
The Japanese know it as shinrin-yoku or “forest therapy,” a ritual that involves immersing yourself in a wooded area to decrease stress. According to Mother Earth News, forest bathing can improve mood and feelings of wellbeing. In addition, several studies indicate that forest therapy can decrease feelings of depression and improve creativity.
Take a hike
So it’s no wonder taking a hike is good for you and wandering the woods is gaining popularity. Central New York offers plenty of forests to bathe in. Here are seven spots worth the trip:
Baltimore Woods Nature Center
The hardwood and hemlock forest known as Baltimore Woods Nature Center in Marcellus boasts more than 180 acres of woodland, field and stream. There are more than six miles of trails open daily from dawn to dusk. You’re sure to de-stress in any season while immersed in its natural beauty. Go to https://baltimorewoods.org/
Beaver Lake Nature Center
Open year-round, Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville is home to more than 600 acres of natural beauty and nine miles of trails. Beaver Lake is a 200-acre glacial lake that’s a hot spot for Canada geese and other birds. Look for trails that loop the lake, journey through wetlands on the park’s boardwalk, pass through open meadows and meander through wooded forest. https://www.onondagacountyparks.com/parks/beaver-lake-nature-center/
Pratt’s Falls in Manlius is features an overlook you can get up close and personal to. This 137-foot drop is a stellar sight a mere 15 miles from Syracuse. With picnic benches and restrooms, you can make a day trip out of it. Plus, there are other trails to hike from 1.2 to 2.6 miles. Visit https://www.onondagacountyparks.com/parks/pratts-falls-park/
Because of its spectacular views and high elevation, Highland Forest in Fabius is touted as “The Adirondacks of Central New York.” This county park has more than 20 miles of year-round trails. Explore six square miles of forest with plenty of signage. Free maps are available at Skyline Lodge. https://www.onondagacountyparks.com/parks/highland-forest/
Fillmore Glen State Park
Take a short trip out to Fillmore Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes. Go on a cool hike through rock formations and waterfalls and end your daytrip with a refreshing jump in the park’s swimming hole. Visit https://parks.ny.gov/parks/fillmoreglen/details.aspx
Green Lakes State Park
Green Lakes State Park in Manlius is the site of two glacial lakes surrounded by nearly 2,000 acres of forest. Formed nearly 15,000 years ago, these meromictic lakes feature calm, mirror like surfaces. For more, visit https://parks.ny.gov/parks/172/details.aspx
Just South of Syracuse, Clark Reservation State Park in Jamesville offers rugged, rocky landscapes, woodlands and meadow and a glacial plunge basin lake. There are five trails, including the cliff trail, which features a look over the ledge 175 feet at the water below. https://parks.ny.gov/parks/126/details.aspx