Enjoy Nature Anywhere: Find Feelings of Wilderness Close to Town
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.
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.
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.
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.