photography above by Michael Eversmier

“Nature in her green tranquil woods heals and soothes all afflictions.” 

 (John Muir)

A visitor to Oregon Ridge Park will immediately see that its crowning glory is the forest, which covers roughly 90% of the park’s 1100 acres. The value of this forest to the physical and mental health of its visitors is priceless! This is one of many terrific gifts at Oregon Ridge Park.

How many know that forest air has healing powers? Trees and plants emit oily substances which, when inhaled, have been shown to defend against cancer, inflammation, and neurodegenerative diseases. These oils help our immune system by increasing the number and activity of natural killer (NK) cells – white cells that fight infections and attack tumor cells.  Incredibly, this increased immunity can last up to ONE MONTH after a single trip to the forest!  Substances in forest air can also improve sleep, mood, and attention, and even boost creativity.

Oregon Ridge Park

Photograpy above by by Linda Lanzara

Most people know the feeling of well-being that occurs during a walk in the woods, but how many know that current research confirms this sense of calm and serenity? There is growing evidence that time spent in a forest actually promotes health and well-being. It’s called “forest bathing,” a Japanese practice which can be translated as “taking in the medicine or atmosphere of the forest.”

Spending time in a forest slows the heart rate, relaxes muscles, and lowers blood pressure and stress hormones. A forest walk of just 15 minutes can lift mood and relieve stress and anxiety!  

What could be more beneficial than getting away from screens nowadays? Forest bathing is a proven method of stress reduction. It involves mindfulness – meaning that one turns off worry, obsessive thinking, and addiction to screens, and focus on the now and all that is around you. The “now” includes bird songs, wind rustling in the trees, dappled sun, scampering squirrels, and often, the silence beneath it all. Research has demonstrated a significant positive relationship between nature, mindfulness, and measures of psychological well-being. This “forest therapy” draws many daily visitors to Oregon Ridge throughout the four seasons. 

If the Oregon Ridge Park were a prescription pill, it would be considered a miracle drug. Luckily, its health benefits are available without cost to anyone who simply spends time in the forest. 

“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Oregon Ridge Nature Center offers many programs that take people into the forest for guided hikes and activities. A monthly Senior Stroll, walk for wellness; Summer Morning Hikes in the Park; Introduction to Nature Journaling; Explore Winter through your Senses; an annual Wildflower Walk; A Quiet Place, an activity that will open your senses to the Natural World and many more. 

Please visit our online registration site for more information and to register for upcoming programs: