February 23rd, 2021
6 Places to Reconnect with Nature
It’s no secret that being out in nature calms us, but many of us spend hours indoors, staring at screens, away from natural light. While there is much focus on the physical consequences of this lifestyle—heart health, obesity, and muscle strain—not enough emphasis is put on its effects on our mental health.
Studies have shown that too much screen time and lack of natural light can lead to depression, cause anxiety, and deplete both empathy and altruism. Just 30 minutes of exposure to nature—a quiet walk in a park, sitting in a garden, or looking at a panoramic view—can significantly reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Stress, depression, and anxiety are risk factors for serious mental health issues. But spending time reconnecting with nature can soothe stress and get you back to feeling your best.
Stunning coastlines, lush forests, crystal lakes, and cascading waterfalls offer countless opportunities to connect with nature and soothe the soul. Here are six.
Maine’s highest mountain peak, Mount Katahdin, is more than 5,000 feet tall and as breathtaking from the ground as it is from the summit. The elevation and weather can make it a challenging hike, but even being in its presence is enough to rejuvenate the soul and free the mind.
The magical Vaughn Woods, located in Hallowell, is often nicknamed ‘Hobbitland’ because it resembles the incredible descriptions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Shire hobbit homeland. This beautiful nature reserve has many trails lined with red oaks, white pines, beech trees, and hemlocks. Each season offers a different activity, but it’s ideal for summer picnics. The fresh air will go a long way to clear a busy mind.
Just a short drive up the coast from Camden, this nature-lover’s paradise is gorgeous in any season. Hike the trails and marvel at the breathtaking views of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. Follow in the footsteps of renowned poet Edna St. Vincent Millay who penned “Renascence,” after her own visit here. What will the trails inspire you to create?
Located in Evan’s Notch, Rattlesnake Pool is a granite bowl that has been patiently flensed from the solid rock over millennia by the running waters, pebbles, and stones. The water is crystal clear and icy cold. The mosses lining the base have given it the nickname of the Emerald Pool. Although the water is frigid year-round, that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a popular swimming hole; an icy dip can do wonders for the mind. Nearby waterfalls add a beautiful soundtrack to complete the ultimate sensory experience.
Explore this 2.1-mile out-and-back trail near Bar Harbor, Maine. While only accessible during low tide, the Bar Island Trail is worth the trip. Its rock pools teem with small sea life and its sand bar makes the terrain soft and easy on the feet. There is nothing like feeling beach sand between your toes as cool water surrounds them.
Located on the Sandy River, Smalls Falls—one more than 100 waterfalls in Maine—is easily accessible, allowing a whole day of indulging in nature’s beauty. There are multiple falls, but the main one features a 54-foot drop. The sound of the cascading water, the feel of the spray, and the view of the natural beauty make this a sensory smorgasbord.
Maine offers an array of locations to get back to nature and soothe your tired soul. Taking time for self-care and mindfulness will go along to make your life’s journey less treacherous.
— Story & Photos: Stephen Bitsoli.