Embracing Nature’s Healing Touch: Forest Bathing (Shinrin-Yoku) in Northern Michigan

by Sally Brumleve | Apr 11, 2024 | Vacationing in Northern Michigan

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it is easy to overlook the profound healing power of nature. However, through the practice of Shinrin – Yoku, or forest bathing,…
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In today’s fast-paced world, where screens dominate our attention and stress weighs heavily on our shoulders, it is easy to forget the profound healing power of nature. But nestled in the natural environment of Northern Michigan lies an ancient remedy that is gaining popularity for its ability to rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit – Shinrin – Yoku, also known as forest bathing. Let us delve into the serene forests of Northern Michigan to explore this Japanese practice and discover the wonders it holds for our well-being.

Exploring the Concept of Shinrin-Yoku

Shinrin-Yoku, translated as “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere,” is not merely a walk in the woods; it is a mindful and intentional immersion into nature. Originating in Japan in the 1980’s, this practice involves slowing down, engaging all the senses, and connecting deeply with the natural world around us. It is about letting go of the distractions of modern life and embracing the healing energy of the forest.

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” ~ Gary Snyder

The Benefits of Forest Bathing

Studies have shown that spending time in nature, particularly through forest bathing, offers a myriad of health benefits. From reducing stress levels and boosting the immune system to improving mood and enhancing cognitive function, the therapeutic effects of Shinrin-Yoku are undeniable. In Northern Michigan, where vast stretches of pristine forests await, these benefits are amplified, offering a sanctuary for weary souls seeking solace and renewal.

Immersing in Northern Michigan’s Forests

North-County-TrailNorthern Michigan boasts some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the United States, with its dense forests, clear freshwater lakes, and rolling hills. Harbor Springs, nested on the shores of Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan, serves as an excellent gateway to explore the region’s nature preserves and embark on a forest bathing journey. Here are a few notable ones:

North Country Trail: This long-distance trail stretches across several states, including Michigan. In the Harbor Springs area, you can find sections of the North Country Trail that offer scenic hikes through forests and along rivers. One particularly beautiful section runs through Wilderness State Park.

Wilderness State Park: Located north of Harbor Springs, Wilderness State Park boasts over 26 miles of hiking trails. These trails wind through a variety of environments, including forests, wetlands, and along the Lake Michigan shoreline. The park offers both short loops and longer trails for hikers of all skill levels.

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve: This nature preserve near Harbor Springs offers several miles of trails through diverse habitats, including forests, wetlands, and meadows. The trails provide opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife viewing.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”~ Frank Lloyd Wright


Tips for a Meaningful Forest Bathing Experience

To fully reap the benefits of Shinrin-Yoku in Northern Michigan, consider these tips for a meaningful experience:

  1. Choose the Right Location: Select a tranquil forest setting away from noise and distractions, where you can immerse yourself fully in nature’s embrace.
  2. Engage Your Senses: Tune in to the sights, sounds, smells, textures, and even tastes of the forest. Let each sensation awaken your senses and deepen your connection with the natural world.
  3. Practice Mindfulness: Be present in the moment, letting go of worries and distractions. Allow yourself to sink into a state of relaxation and inner peace.
  4. Take It Slow: Forest bathing is not above covering long distances or achieving fitness goals. Instead, focus on moving slowly and deliberately, allowing yourself to savor every moment.
  5. Reflect and Appreciate: Take time to reflect on your experience and express gratitude for the beauty and healing energy of the forest.


In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it is easy to overlook the profound healing power of nature. However, through the practice of Shinrin – Yoku, or forest bathing, we can rediscover our connection to the natural world and experience its transformative effects on our well-being. In Northern Michigan, with its awe-inspiring forests and tranquil landscapes, the opportunity for rejuvenation and renewal awaits around every corner. So, why not venture into the woods, breathe in the fresh air, and let nature work its magic?


“Nature is the best medicine for serenity. Peace, calmness, stillness. It is good for the heart.” 

~Karen Madewell

Sally Brumleve joined the HVR team in January 2020 in the capacity of Acquisitions and Resort Services. She is an outdoorsy northern Michigan native and enjoys kayaking, cycling, hiking, snowshoeing, and camping. She has spent the past 14 years in the hospitality industry with responsibilities in front office, revenue management, food and beverages, sales, housekeeping, and resort retail operations. Her career experiences have been in Michigan, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to that, Sally spent 15 years as an entrepreneur living in the Upper Peninsula’s idyllic Les Cheneaux Islands, as the owner of a charming harbor market and managing broker for an area real estate company. She has experience in residential development and the lakefront cottage market. She holds a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and an MBA in Strategic Leadership from Spring Arbor University. She holds ABR and GRI real estate designations. In her role as Acquisitions and Resort Services, Sally enjoys helping homeowners realize their financial goals through the rental management program. She feels fortunate to live in the Little Traverse Bay region where great communities, freshwater and four seasons come together.

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