If you’ve read our first post about forest bathing in Nova Scotia, you’ll know that it’s something that can be practiced almost anywhere — all you need is that connection with nature and the natural world.
Finding the best places for forest bathing in Nova Scotia might take you to a peaceful, natural woodland — there are many in the province and each is eminently appealing and certainly works for a calming, in-the-moment forest bathing walk.
But you can also find nature near you in a local park, or in your own yard if you have plants and trees, or even IN your home if you have your favourite indoor plants or pet(s) around you. So even if you don’t have a car or access to public transport, you might find that some of the best places for forest bathing in Nova Scotia are actually close by in your local area!
In the end, it’s pretty straightforward. Finding the best places for forest bathing in Nova Scotia means finding your connection with nature — wherever that happens to be.
What makes for a good forest bathing destination?
So if you’re looking for a good outside area for forest bathing, what should you look for?
We asked several Nova Scotia forest bathing guides, experts who regularly take groups through some of the most breath-taking scenery in the province, what they look for in a great site for restful forest journeys.
Rosmarie Lohnes, an experienced forest bathing guide from Bridgewater on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, says that she finds quiet woods most effective where there is no highway noises, pets, or children.
Sophie Hebert, a certified forest therapy guide from Halifax agrees: “I love guiding outside the most. You really can connect with nature anywhere (because we are nature!) but in an ideal setting, I’d love to be in a place with some forest, a meadow, and water.”
Wendy Hanlan, of Harbour Retreat in Musquodoboit Harbour, says the forest locations she favours tend to offer a good variety of sensory stimuli to explore. “I prefer a country setting with fewer man-made noises,” she says.
Wil Brunner, a certified forest therapy guide who leads walks in the Annapolis Valley, says that forests that have diverse, native species provides us with the more natural or authentic way we can meet nature. “It’s the ecology that humans evolved with”, he says. “However, one can find nature anywhere and build that connection. The more convenient and accessible places are likely more frequently visited.”
However, even if an area seems like one of the best places for forest bathing in Nova Scotia, there’s still things to watch out for:
- a place with no clear trail,
- big rocks or roots that pose a tripping hazard,
- poison ivy or poison oak or any plant beings that could potentially cause injury if they were misidentified.
Best places for forest bathing in Nova Scotia
One of the grand advantages of living in Nova Scotia is the abundance of scenic and even remote natural places to visit — there are literally hundreds of untamed natural areas for forest bathing.
We’ve assembled just a few of the best places for forest bathing in Nova Scotia to get you started. Any one of these would be great for a low-stress peaceful forest bathing walk (with or without a guide):
1. Blomidon Provincial Park (Annapolis Valley)
Blomidon Provincial Park overlooks the Minas Basin near Kemptville and is renowned for its spectacular views of the twice-daily world’s highest tides from atop high cliffs. (Note tide times, as you could be stranded until high tide recedes.)
There are 13 km (8 mi) of trails through mature hardwoods with numerous panoramic views of the Minas Basin that venture into densely wooded areas, lush with vegetation.
And at low tide, walk along the vast expanse of soft clay beach that moments before was the ocean floor. Some have said that barefoot walking gives you an amazing feeling on your feet (and spares your footwear from mud). (Again, be warned that the tide comes in extremely fast, so don’t get caught straying too far out.)
2. Five Islands Provincial Park (North Shore)
The Five Islands Provincial Park is 24 km (15 mi) east of Parrsboro with high sea cliffs overlooking the Bay of Fundy tides as they come and and recede. Red Head Trail offers four of the best views of the islands and the basin with 5.2 km (3.2 mi) of tracked trails, which are marked and mapped.
3. Hemlocks and Hardwoods Trail (South Shore)
The Hemlocks and Hardwoods trail at Kejimkujik National Park has a five-kilometre loop that takes you on a memorable journey among some of Nova Scotia’s oldest trees — you will find 300-year old hemlocks along this trail. The many front country, back country, and seaside trails take you through an incredible variety of habitats and scenery, leading you through places of cultural and natural significance. This trail has a boardwalk that will take you over the sensitive roots of these giants.
4. The Tobeatic Wilderness Area (South Shore)
The Tobeatic Wilderness Area at Forest Point Lodge is one of the more internationally well-known forest bathing sites in Nova Scotia – with such an reputation that people will travel for such experiences. This is pristine Acadian forest; thousands of hectares of red spruce mixed with sugar maple and yellow birch, beech with their silky bark, red oak, pine and spruce, and hemlock on the lower stretches, some of them 30 metres or more tall. No roads, no houses, no industry … just nature. No all-terrain vehicles, no trucks.
5. West River Falls trail & Eagle Bridge (Highlands/East Shore)
Try this 0.8-km loop trail near Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 10 min to complete. This is a popular trail for hiking, snowshoeing, and trail running, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash. This is a superb little trail, bridge, and boardwalk over a lovely salmon river. In October with fall colours it is spectacular!
6. The Pugwash Estuary
The Pugwash Estuary extends from the Pugwash Harbour to Conns Mills. Beyond Conns Mills there is no tidal flow and Pugwash River stretches about 16 km to Mahoney’s Corner. It’s a mixture of forest and salt marsh that borders some of the most sought-after oceanfront property in Nova Scotia.
There are currently two trails for you to hike along the beautiful shores of the Pugwash Estuary and River through mature and regenerating Acadian forest. Skirt the edge of the salt marsh, with views across the estuary.
Halifax: forest bathing in urban areas
Some of the best places for forest bathing in Nova Scotia can be right in its biggest urban area: Halifax!
You might think that residents would have trouble finding easy access to unspoiled areas to practice away-from-their-home forest bathing in an urban centre. But amazingly, the opposite is true.
Halifax is surrounded with many wonderful parks that showcase the natural wonders of the province including those listed below AND Shubie Park, Purcell’s Cove Backlands, the Dingle, and Duncan’s Cove hiking trail. There’s no shortage of choices for good forest bathing that close to this urban Nova Scotia city.
7. Halifax Public Gardens
These gardens are found in the city-centre and are open from 8am until 30 minutes before sunset. High wrought-iron gates welcome you to the grounds. On your walk, you will find:
- Upper and lower bridges that cross the stream and ponds,
- Victorian-style carpet beds with designs of arranged dwarf plants.
- Tropical display beds for exotic plants,
- 32 geometric beds, a common element of Victorian gardens,
- Floating beds that are planted in traditional Victorian annuals and provide exuberant colour and complement the intricately carved wooden trim of the bandstand.
- Griffin’s pond is now a stopping place for migrating birds with regular flyovers by cruising ospreys.
8. Point Pleasant Park
Point Pleasant Park is located at the south end of Halifax and covers 75 acres of wooded parkland. It has 39km of easy winding trails and wide paths, many of which are wheelchair-accessible.
You’ll find large maps showing the walkways at the western entrance (Tower Road at Point Pleasant Drive). There are beautiful scenery of coastal ecosystems and views of the Atlantic and across the harbor.
The park is home to many varietis of wildflowers, ferns, shrubs, and trees such as apple, white birch, red maple, and sugar maple and many more.
9. Five Bridges Wilderness Area
The Five Bridges Wilderness Area is nearly five times the size of the Halifax peninsula and lies between Highways 103 and 333.
It’s a rugged landscape of forest, barrens, wetlands, rivers and lakes, With its scenic views, natural setting, cultural history and location, the wilderness area offers superb opportunities to appreciate nature.
10. Salt Marsh Trail in Cole Harbour
The Salt Marsh Trail in Cole Harbour is part of the abandoned Musquodoboit railroad that has been transformed into a part of the Trans Canada Trail. Depending on how far you go, walkers will see the great salt marsh, smell the coastal air, and view some beautiful panoramas.
These are among the best places for forest bathing in Nova Scotia. Each of these beautiful natural locations have something unique to offer and is sure to provide you with a wonderful forest bathing experience.
But the province is full of unspoiled areas to settle your soul and calm your mind. So, whether you are looking to reduce stress levels or improve your mood, be sure to check out one of these Nova Scotia forest bathing hotspots!