The first certified forest therapy trail in North Carolina was dedicated at Pinnacle Park in Sylva on March 11, 2022. The easily accessible trail provides visitors an opportunity to experience the restorative benefits of spending time in nature through their senses. Brochures are provided at the trailhead that serve as a guide through the visit. The trail is certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.
Photo: A toast to the first certified forest therapy trail in North Carolina. (Left to right: Paige Dowling, Sylva Town Manager; Christine Hoyer, ANFT Trail Certification Coordinator; Mark Ellison, ANFT Certified Guide and Trail Consultant; Nick Breedlove, Executive Director, Jackson County TDA.
To be considered for certification trails are reviewed by an ANFT trail consultant who submits a proposal for a trail to be considered. Trails must offer abundant opportunities to experience nature free of distractions in a high quality natural setting. The trail at Pinnacle Park is the first to be certified that is managed by a municipality.
Forest therapy or shinrin-yoku started in Japan in the early 1980's to provide the opportunity to escape stressful urban life and enjoy time in nature. Japan has over 50 forest therapy bases. Forest therapy is simply relaxing in nature to experience it through your senses. It is not strenuous, nor is it a hike.
Guided walks offer the opportunity to have a more in-depth experience, as well as a beautiful tea ceremony at the end. Guided walks with a certified guide are available in many countries. If you would like a guided walk at Pinnacle Park, learn more at www.pinnacleforesttherapy.com.