Pinnacle Forest Therapy

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“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees…while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”     John Muir                              (Photo by Mark Ellison)

Pinnacle Forest Therapy offers guided Shinrin-yoku walks in the beautiful forests of Pinnacle Park in Sylva, NC. Located in Jackson County, we are in the epicenter of wellness and adventure experiences in the Great Smoky Mountains region of western North Carolina.

Forest bathing, or shinrin yoku, is simple: by spending leisurely time in nature, we achieve scientifically-demonstrated health benefits and we connect with the natural environment. Guided walks facilitate sensory awareness, invite you to slow down, and open the door for nature to heal.

Walks are approximately 2.5 hours and are not strenuous. Your guide will offer several invitations for you to experience nature through your senses. The walk ends with a relaxing tea ceremony.


A Shinrin-yoku walk at Pinnacle Park

You will walk with certified guide Dr. Mark Ellison who helped introduce the practice of Shinrin-yoku to the United States in 2012 and has been featured in numerous publications, including O, The  Oprah Magazine.


Slow down and enjoy the awe inspiring beauty of the Appalachian Mountains (Photo by Mark Ellison)

The cost for individual participants is $25. There is a minimum $50 fee for a walk if less than two people register. Walks will be limited to no more than 6 participants. The recommended social distancing guidelines of 6 feet will be observed. 

All walks are on the lower trails at the park with only a slight change in elevation and are low intensity. Send an email to register.

Please arrive at the parking lot for Pinnacle Park 10 minutes prior to the walk start time. You will receive an email confirmation about the walk once you have registered.

Summer/Fall 2020 Schedule (Walks are offered at other times and locations by request)

-Saturday, August 22 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, August 29 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, September 5 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, September 5 @ 5:30 pm

-Saturday, September 12 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, September 19 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, September 26 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, October 3 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, October 10 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, October 17 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, October 24 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, November 7 @ 9:00 am

-Saturday, November 15 @ 9:00 am

If you would like to schedule on another day or time, please let me know.

Pinnacle Park is located 10 minutes from downtown Sylva. You can enjoy good food, beverages and shopping before or after your walk!

IMG_20200815_171612Email me to learn more about going on a guided forest therapy walk. I look forward to hearing from you and walking in the forest with you soon!

Feedback from a few forest walk participants:

“Before meeting Mark, I was on a mission. A mission to better understand and experience the power of nature.  Unaware at the time that the wilderness actually does have healing powers of sorts, I met Mark at a conference and was immediately drawn in to his stories. He took me out into nature in a memorable experience I will never forget. He has a gift of calmness, yet extremely knowledgeable of the wooded surroundings. It was a true gift to be able to experience the outdoors thru his eyes, and to end the day by a creek with hot tea in hand… nothing better.”          Glenn,  Nashville, TN

IMG_20200717_093213“A beautiful November morn spent with Mark in the magnificent woods Of Pinnacle Park in Sylva, N.C. With Mark’s guidance he fine tuned our senses encouraging  us to a greater awareness and a more humble understanding that one may, through patience and an earnest desire, begin to enjoy the magic and majesty, both large and small, that      abounds in the creation, THE FOREST.  ENJOY!!!”       Rich, Raleigh, NC

“Take a Deep Breath: You’re already feeling less stressed after your drive. Now take that one step further with a forest therapy walk with Dr. Mark Ellison in Pinnacle Park. Leave your preconceived notions of hiking behind and be prepared to slow down and forest-bathe. The Japanese call this form of therapy Shinrin-Yoku—essentially immersing yourself in the calming energy of the forest. Dr. Ellison guides participants through a series of mindfulness exercises that are guaranteed to leave you feeling more rested than when you arrived.”   

   Birmingham Home & Garden Magazine


Western Carolina University students enjoying their first forest therapy walk.

Recent articles about Pinnacle Forest Therapy guided walks:

A Plus (Ashton Kutcher’s digital magazine

Birmingham Home & Garden

Mountain Xpress 

Ocala Style

O (Oprah) Magazine (the ultimate destination for stylish Southern living)

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5 thoughts on “Pinnacle Forest Therapy

  1. Are there any programs you know of for certification as a forest therapist? Do you provide any training? I am very interested in the field. Currently I lead hiking groups with high school students, but I would like to develop a program to help adults reap the health benefits of our many forests. I live in central pa., surrounded by state parks, natural areas, wonderful waterfalls and bogs, yet few in our community venture into the woods. I believe if they realized the benefits and were led by a knowledgable facilitator, they may feel more comfortable. I am a certified high school teacher with a counseling certification. I have hiked extensively for the last four or five years, and it has greatly improved the quality of my life. I have semi-retired and would like to dedicate myself to getting people into the woods! Thanks!!

    Cindy Way

  2. Dear Mark, I was delighted to find this page on your blog as I have not been here for a while.
    You are following your heart and using your remarkable knowledge and resources with your Shinrin Yoku classes. I am looking forward to sharing news about your work with my HT students this week, especially as they will be embarking on some “forest bathing” with me in a lovely forest close to our classroom. All the best, Ann Kent HTM.

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