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Enjoy Nature Anywhere: Find Feelings of Wilderness Close to Town

Posted by Loren Drummond at Oct 16, 2017 03:00 PM |

It can feel like a challenge to connect with nature and capture the sense of solituide close to town—but it’s not impossible. A few tips to find that wild feeling.

Why do you hike? When your motivation for hiking is to spend time with your friends, or to get in a bit of exercise, trails near town are often perfect. But what about when you’re looking for solitude and a chance to reconnect with nature? It can feel like a challenge to connect with that wild feeling close to town—but it’s not impossible.

trails take - Erik HG.jpgLook at these two images. Pretend you're standing on the trails. Do you know which one is urban? (See the answer below.) Photos be Erika Haugen-Goodman.

I recently had the popular Mailbox Peak Trail to myself for more than 2 hours by starting a midweek hike at 5:30 a.m. I am not naturally an early riser, but I made it happen because I needed those 2 hours of walking through the woods and listening to birdsong as the world woke up around me. I held the satisfaction of that wild feeling all through the workday.

Unplugging close to home

There are tried-and-true tricks to unplugging without a 3-hour drive to a remote, capital ”W” wilderness. Look for underused trails near town to explore. Or try carving out time when you can get a popular local trail to yourself: Start out early, get out on a foggy day or spend a vacation day to visit mid-week.

Mind tricks

Besides hiking in the rain or getting a dawn start, there are other ways to find that sense of solitude closer to town. They’re more of a mind trick than a trip-planning strategy.

On a walk around your neighborhood, find a tree you like. Stop and look up. Imagine yourself in the middle of the woods and watch the branches blow for 5 minutes; it will feel like an eternity.

Looking up at trees by Gabor GardonyiLook up and let the trees help chill you out. Photo by Gabor Gardonyi

Even better, find a nearby trail in a park or green space. The first time you find yourself alone (even for 5 or 10 minutes), take a minute or two to try and forget where you are. It’s better if you can get near a stream or river, which can effectively mask urban sounds.

Take a deep breath.

Smell the soil. Look around for signs of wildlife. And in the forgetting, you can remember why you love to hike in the first place.

Image Answer: Left, Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. Right, Rattlesnake Ledge, off I-90.

Comments

smultringunn on Enjoy Nature Anywhere: Find Feelings of Wilderness Close to Town

I've really embraced urban trails since having kids...and getting out on them through the winter has made the gloomy season so much easier on me! Also, in the past few months alone I have met a bobcat and an owl on the powerline trail two blocks from my house!

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smultringunn on Oct 17, 2017 08:43 AM

luckybe on Enjoy Nature Anywhere: Find Feelings of Wilderness Close to Town

Great article! A remainder of how to enjoy our world in simpler, easily accessible ways.

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luckybe on Oct 21, 2017 10:58 AM

Loren Drummond on Enjoy Nature Anywhere: Find Feelings of Wilderness Close to Town

@smultringunn a bobcat and an owl! Cool. Totally hear you. Even getting an hour on local trails can make a huge difference for coping during fall and winter.

@luckbe thanks!

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Loren Drummond on Oct 24, 2017 03:15 PM

LordHillBandit on Enjoy Nature Anywhere: Find Feelings of Wilderness Close to Town

I am lucky to live minutes from Lord Hill, and make it my pastime to get out in the woods. It really is amazing how fast the outside world fades away when you're sitting quietly amongst the trees.

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LordHillBandit on Dec 24, 2017 10:42 AM

chrisburke on Enjoy Nature Anywhere: Find Feelings of Wilderness Close to Town

Urban parks with forested ravines leading to salt water are the best for obtaining that wild feeling in the city. A list would include, from north to south, Japanese Gulch, Meadowdale Beach Park, Llandover Woods, Carkeek Park, Seahurst Park, Marine View Park, Saltwater State Park, and Dash Point State Park.

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chrisburke on Mar 21, 2019 08:59 AM