Nature offers many benefits for people. It provides an opportunity to reconnect with the present moment, and not worry about the past or future. There is extensive research that being in nature can help lower blood pressure, increase self-esteem, and reduce anxiety.

One article published by the Yale school of the Environment found that people who spent an average of 120 minutes outside throughout the week reported significant benefits across gender, race, and socioeconomic boundaries. Click here to read the article. The article also pointed to the benefits of getting children immersed in nature. These benefits include resiliency and confidence.

Below is an activity we have written to bring together mindfulness and nature in a mindful walk around the Alden trail at the ELC.


Mindful Walk of the Alden Trail


Time: 20-60 minutes
Where: Environmental Learning Center; click here for directions

This activity is based on the practice of mindful walking. Click here to find out more about this practice. Mindful walking involves walking slowing and moving continuously.

As you start to walk the trail take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pay attention to the motion of walking, how the ground feels under each step, and the air coming into and out of your lungs.

When walking over the bridge be aware of how it creaks and wobbles. What do you notice about the bridge?

Trail leads to a suspension bridge, there are trees in the background

This suspension bridge marks the entrance to the Environmental Learning Center trails. Credit: Carmen Bachofen

After crossing the bridge, turn right. Continue the practice of walking while being mindful of your breathing. Try to notice things about your surroundings, does the air have a smell to it? How does the sky look? Being more aware of your surroundings can help bring you into the present moment.

Stop at any point on the Alden trail that catches your eye.

Dry grassland with cottonwood trees in the distance

Listening to the wind blow through the grass can be part of any mindful walk. Credit: Carmen Bachofen


Towards the end of the loop, when you reach the platform overlooking the Poudre River stop and listen to the sounds of the river.

In the foreground is a wooden platform overlooking the Cache la Poudre River

Viewing platform overlooking Cache la Poudre River, Credit: Carmen Bachofen

Nature can be a tool for healing and bringing awareness back to the present. We hope you enjoyed this exercise about using mindful walking during your visit to the Environmental Learning Center.

Health and Safety Reminders:
  • Please do not drink the water from the spigot at the ELC, the water has low chlorine levels at this time.
  • Always check the rules for the natural area you choose to visit; this can usually be found on the organization’s website.
  • Give wildlife space, never approach wild animals.
  • Prepare for outdoor adventures by packing water and snacks, wearing closed-toe shoes and weather appropriate clothing.
  • We urge everyone to follow current health guidelines:
    • Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between individuals who do not live together. Wear a mask when distancing isn’t possible.
    • Keep groups to 10 people or fewer.
    • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and eater after outdoor adventures. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
    • Stay home if you feel sick.

A mountain lion has recently been spotted at the Environmental Learning Center. Though uncommon on our property, we have had them out here in previous drought and wildfire years. Mountain lions are a natural part of the ecosystem and negative interactions with them are extremely rare. Please click here for safety tips, how to report a mountain lion sighting and more information about mountain lions.