Forest therapy is a popular practice in Japan, but you don’t have to travel far to reap its rewards.
Markham is home to several Shinrin (which means ‘forest) Yoku (which means ‘bath’) trails, allowing you to explore rivers and valleys protected by the Greenbelt while enjoying the simple and therapeutic act of spending time in a forest.
The intention of Shinrin Yoku is to deepen one’s connection with the forest. Researchers have found that people who spend time in forests have lower heart rates, lower blood pressure and lower concentration of stress hormones, the City of Markham reports.
Markham’s self-guided Shinrin Yoku trails are in Pomona Mills Park, Rouge Valley Trail, Springdale Park and Valley and Toogood Pond Park. Click here for more information on their location.
The Shinrin Yoku trails include improvements to the existing pathway system through the addition of mulch, interpretive signage and seating. Markham’s Parks Renaissance Strategy worked with the Global Institute of Forest Therapy (GIFT) to create interpretive signage for the trails.
Each trail has its own unique interpretive signage to create places where individuals and groups can go to for a self-guided Shinrin Yoku experience. The Springdale Park and Valley trail was the first trail designated by GIFT in Canada.
About 80 per cent of the project was funded by the Parks Renaissance Strategy in keeping with the mandate to revitalize older parks to further engage residents.
The city worked with the Greenbelt Foundation and Park People throughout the planning and implementation stages. The remaining cost was funded by the Greenbelt River Valley Connector Program, a collaborative grant offered by the Greenbelt Foundation and Park People.