The Nature Prescription: Why the great outdoors may be the best medicine

Jan 17, 2023
We live in an increasingly digital age. Our jobs rely on computers, our classrooms are filled with technology, we carry our phones at all times and we’re connected to the internet more than any generation before. As our reliance on technology grows, another parallel movement has been gaining strength—one that’s focused on disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature.


“People have always known intuitively that something about being outside makes them feel better but now the science backs that up,” explains Rob Klea, owner of New Trail Forest Therapy. “The direct health benefits from being in nature are unbelievable. They’ve proven that when you’re out in nature you’re able to pick up anti-stress, anti-depressant, happy chemicals just by being out there.”
The next time you need to destress, why not consider heading outside? BruceGreySimcoe is an amazing place to be outdoors. Whether you’re looking to hike or simply ‘be’ in the forest or our abundant green spaces, there are an increasing number of opportunities to reconnect with nature right here. Below are just a few outdoor experiences and local guides who can you start your journey back to nature.

New Trail Forest Therapy
Tobermory, Ontario

Rob Klea and his team are based part time in Tobermory and part time in Kitchener. Retired from the public-school system, Klea now spends much of his time as an independent contractor helping people reconnect with nature. “A lot of the work I do is in incorporating nature into the classroom in a way that’s going to help maximize focus and concentration,” explains Klea. That approach is something we can all benefit from.  
Klea firmly believes in the health benefits of time spent in nature and New Trail’s mission to is to spread the science behind that connection. On the Peninsula, New Trail offers Forest Bathing Walks and a variety of other nature connection experiences. 
To find out more about what New Trail offers, visit their website.

Forest Bathing trail at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain
Collingwood, Ontario

A visit to the Scandinave is already a beautiful outdoor experience, but the spa has another unique way to connect with nature. Their forest bathing trail is certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.

The trail is free to visitors, with the Scandinave encouraging spa guests to add this before or after their visit to enhance the wellness benefits of the Thermal Baths experience. The Forest Bathing trails leads to seven suggested marked stations (invitations), clearly marked on the trail. Guest Service agents at the spa can give you a Forest Bathing Guide to bring along. Guests are invited to finish up their walk with a sample of forest-inspired specialty tea. Prefer to have someone lead the way? Certified Forest Therapy Guide Beth Foster—who designed the trail—can be reserved in advance. Read on to learn more about Beth.


Forest Bathing with Beth
Barrie, Ontario

In addition to her recent work on the forest bathing trail at Scandinave, Beth Foster offers guided forest bathing experiences in the Barrie area. “As a Certified Forest Therapy Guide, I will guide you on a slow quiet walk and offer invitations to pause and notice your surroundings,” explains Foster on her website. “Each invitation is part of a sequence to help you connect with nature in a meaningful, healing way.” "Simcoe County is so bountiful in opportunities to connect with nature", says Beth. "I am offering Forest Bathing Hygge guided winter walks in Sunnidale Park, Barrie, especially great for those who know they need more incentive to go outside to play in winter but are also choosing to live lightly locally, on Sunday, January 22, 2023 (Lunar New year) and Sunday, January 29, 2023." Find out more about Beth's offerings

Mindfulness Winter Snow Shoe Walks
Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery
Annan, Ontario 

Offered from December to March at Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery in Annan, your mindfulness facilitator will take you on a snowshoe walk through the vineyard, pausing to enjoy the quiet beauty of the vineyard and leading to a tasting of Coffin Ridge’s finest wines and food pairing, while seated in our cozy nestles back in Coffin Wood Clearing. Snowshoes are available to borrow or bring your own.  Tours are $45 per person (non refundable - credit available). Tours begin at 1 p.m. sharp and run about two hours long and can accommodate a maximum of 12 people per tour.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, the snowshoe tours will be hikes instead. Find out more

MacGregor Point’s Forest Therapy Trail 
Port Elgin, Ontario

Ontario Parks has recognized the profound health benefits of being outside in nature. Their Healthy Parks Healthy People initiative aims to share those benefits with all Ontarions. As such they've begun adding new experiences in their parks, like the new Forest Therapy Trail added at MacGregor Point Provincial Park, the first designated forest therapy trail in Ontario Parks. The Tower Trail has a series of mindfulness prompts that help you explore a deeper connection with nature. 

Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre
Midland, Ontario 

Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre is an excellent spot for those looking to get out in nature, explore the forest and learn about wildlife at the same time. With a great trail network and some excellent programming from kids camps to their Birds of Prey presentations with birds they've either rescued or are rehabiliating, a day at the Wye is a day well spent. 

Wild by Nature Forest Sanctuary 
Miller Lake, Ontario 

In the spring, summer and fall, Wild By Nature Forest Sanctuary on Dyers Bay Road in Miller Lake offers visitors a great opportunity to reconnect with nature. With several experiences offered from a Guided Forest Bathing Experience with Tea Ceremony and a Self Guided Forest Bathing Trail, Wild by Nature can also offer custom experiences by request.

Sugar Ridge Retreat Centre
Wyebridge, Ontario 


This 150-acre facility is located right next to the Wye Marsh on forested land and meadows. Complete with hiking and biking trails as well as 10 four-person cabins in the woods, there’s also a large multi-purpose centre with great yoga and workshop facilities. Sugar Ridge hosts a wide variety of retreats and is the perfect place to get away from it all in the great outdoors. Find out more on their website.

Bruce Peninsula Eco Adventures
Tobermory/Lion’s Head, Ontario

Looking for a guided opportunity to get out in nature? Bruce Peninsula Eco Adventures offers a wide variety of outdoor experiences that will help you reconnect with nature. From their Soul Stroll outings to Brave the Caves and Birding by the Bay, they’ve classified their adventures by difficulty and content from family-friendly to cliff-edge and shoreline. Getting out with a guide is a great way to get started. Find out more about the Eco Adventures they offer on their website.

Join the Bruce Trail Conservancy ... Then Join a Local Club for Group Hikes 

The Bruce Trail Conservancy helps to conserve and care for land within the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. They also help maintain the famous Bruce Trail footpath that runs through Bruce and Grey Counties in our region. A Bruce Trail membership helps with those conservation efforts and also with trail maintenance. Local clubs like the Beaver Valley Bruce Trail Club, the Sydenham Bruce Trail Club, the Blue Mountains Bruce Trail Club and the Peninsula Bruce Trail Club offer group hikes that are a great way to get out and explore. Your membership will open up this calendar of hikes and even some group hikes for full sections of the trail to earn badges. 

Looking for more natural adventures?  Check out Trails & Paddling and Nordic Skiing and Snowshoeing in BruceGreySimcoe.