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Connect to the Restorative Power of Nature

Experience the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku in the solitude of Pinnacle Park in Sylva, NC. Located in the beautiful Southern Appalachian mountains.


Hi, I’m Mark Ellison. I can help you experience the restorative power of nature through the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, also called forest therapy. I helped introduce shinrin-yoku to the United States in 2013, after meeting and learning from Dr. Qing Li, who  developed the practice of shinrin-yoku in Japan in the 1980's. I am certified as a forest therapy guide and forest therapy trail consultant by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.

I earned my doctorate in adult education and human resource development from North Carolina State University, focusing my research on the restorative benefits of hiking in wilderness solitude.  This, combined with my love of helping people experience and learn about the natural environment through walks, help me provide a unique sensory experience in the lush forests of Western North Carolina.

My walks are in Pinnacle Park in Sylva, NC which is the only certified forest therapy trail in North Carolina. Located in Jackson County, we are in the epicenter of wellness and adventure experiences in the Great Smoky Mountains region of Western North Carolina. I also guide waterfall therapy walks for Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina.

Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is simple: by spending leisurely time in nature, we achieve scientifically-demonstrated health benefits and we connect with the natural environment. Guided walks facilitate sensory awareness, invite you to slow down, and open the door for nature to heal.

Walks are approximately 2.5 hours and are not strenuous. I will offer several invitations for you to experience nature through your senses. The walk ends with a relaxing tea ceremony.

My walks have been featured by: 

-This Working Life (2022 Australian Career Book of Year)

-North Carolina Travel Guide 2023

-South Magazine (magazine of the coastal south)

-First Presbyterian Church Sylva, NC

-Plateau Magazine (Highlands/Cashiers)

-Spectrum News North Carolina

-National Geographic:1000 Perfect Weekends

-Eating Well Magazine

-Our State Magazine

-North Carolina Travel Guide 2021

-O Magazine (Oprah)

-Birmingham Home & Garden

-Mountain Xpress 

-Ocala Style

-A Plus (Ashton Kutcher’s digital magazine) 

I am also a contributing writer for The Appalachian Trail Conservancy's website and Journeys Magazine on topics related to nature, health,  recreation, and conservation.

My commitment to practicing a Leave No Trace philosophy in my outdoor adventures was highlighted by the State of North Carolina on VisitNC.


Schedule a walk to experience the restorative power of shinrin-yoku in the beautiful Southern Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Grab a cool t-shirt to remember your time in this amazing place.

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With Amy Grant on her farm near Nashville, TN guiding a music and forest therapy experience for senior adults for the Trails Please Foundation.

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Photo by Ryan Donnell
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