Often, we think of outdoor activities as somewhat adventurous — rafting down a raging river or working up a sweat on a strenuous hike — but what if you could experience the great outdoors in a serene, relaxing manner that lowers your stress levels and leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated? That’s exactly what forest bathing provides.

A practice growing on the mindful travel scene, forest bathing originated in Japan several decades ago, as a way to inspire individuals to connect with the country’s gorgeous forests while also helping them recoup from work and tech-related stress.

We know that too much time at work or in front of screens can be bad for our mental health and that spending time in the fresh air and around trees and other plants is beneficial for our mental health — so it’s no surprise that this new approach to stress relief worked. Forest bathing quickly grew a following that spread internationally.

So what exactly is forest bathing?

No, you won’t need to strip down to your skivvies for this bath. Instead, forest bathing typically includes simply walking or sitting in a natural environment, in a quiet, mindful, present manner that allows you to really focus on what you’re seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, and sometimes even tasting, all around you. Forest bathing is easy and perfect for any age or fitness level — and it’s an activity you can enjoy during your trip to LivCo. And we've rounded up a bunch of places you can visit to connect with nature.

Hemlock-Canadice State Forest

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The beautiful, near 7,000-acre Hemlock-Canadice State Forest offers ample opportunities to forest bathe in the reclaimed lands around Hemlock and Canadice Lakes. Park your vehicle and then explore the multiple hiking trails that serve up views of the water. Most of the trails here are rated as “easy,” though some are on the longer side, so be sure to check the estimated hiking time for the trail of your choice before heading out.

Letchworth State Park

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Like the idea of forest bathing but not the idea of giving up creature comforts or amenities? Then Letchworth State Park might just be the perfect place for you to go. The park offers a nature center, playgrounds, a visitors’ center, programming, and more. Expect some crowds during the summer, especially around the waterfalls; however, there are also opportunities to find a little seclusion as well, if you take to the hiking trails.


People Hiking at Letchworth

Canaseraga State Forest

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As a relatively undeveloped state forest, you’ll find plenty of peace, quiet and solitude at Canaseraga State Forest. Criss-crossed with unpaved roadways, old farm lanes and deer paths, the forest is relatively flat, so it’s a great place to forest bathe with pets or children in tow.

Sonyea State Forest

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The Genesee Valley Greenway passes through Sonyea State Forest. Here, you can discover the railroad remains as you explore the Keshequa Gorge and its creek. The water’s edge is a favorite spot for a peaceful picnic.

Genesee Valley Greenway State Park

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This pet-friendly park follows the historic remains of the Genesee Valley Canal and Pennsylvania Railroad, mixing nature with historic features like warehouses and canal culverts, resulting in plenty to take in with your senses as you forest bathe. The Greenway is 90 miles long so, depending on where you enter, you may also find gorges, farmlands, wetlands, and other features.


People walking Greenway

Ossian State Forest

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Another rustic forestland with little development, Ossian State Forest is filled with quiet, placid marshlands and lakes. Wildlife watching is a favorite activity here and one you can incorporate into your forest bathing experience, as you keep an eye out for wild turkey, beavers, mink and even the occasional black bear.

Or you can take a guide and some gear with you!

Whether you’re heading out to forest bathe in one of LivCo’s beautiful forestlands or you’re plotting out a hike, paddling trip, or any other outdoor adventure, make sure you’re properly (and safely!) outfitted with all the right gear.

Trail Otter is LivCo’s only outfitter store, selling everything you need for hiking, backpacking and outdoor fun of all types. And if you prefer a guided outdoor adventure, Trail Otter offers hiking and backpacking tours in Letchworth State Park and other spots in the Genesee River Valley, all year long, in case you want to get out in the woods but maybe don’t want to go it alone. Even if you don’t need a guided tour, though, the staff is chockfull of useful information and advice to make your trip easier. Stop into the Trail Otter store in Leicester (where you’ll also find the world’s largest backpack!) before you even step foot into the forest — you’ll be glad you did.


Trail Otter largest backpack