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Valley psychotherapist Sarah Matheson feels that hiking can be very complementary to the therapeutic or recovery process. “It has been shown that time in nature can be critical to those struggling with PTSD, and moderate exercise has been shown to be very helpful with mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety,” she says. “It’s also a way people [can] feel more connected to a higher power or to humanity as a whole.”
Hiking is no panacea, she cautions. “It isn’t for everybody, and I am very careful to not push everyone in that direction. [But] I have had clients discover that time in nature between sessions has increased their insight and allowed for them to tolerate a wider range of emotional experiences.”
The Woodchute Trail #102 in Prescott National Forest near Jerome is one of Matheson’s favorite hikes to unwind and challenge herself. “I like [the] beautiful views right away of the Verde Valley, Sedona and Prescott Valley... and that the trail has moderate elevation gains and losses throughout the hike, versus being straight up and then straight down. The view at the end of the trail is simply spectacular!”
— Mare Czinar
WOODCHUTE TRAIL #102
Prescott National Forest
LENGTH: 7.4 miles round-trip (to Jerome overlook and back)
GETTING THERE: From the State Route 89/89A junction in Chino Valley, follow 89A for 18.8 miles to the Mingus Summit, turn left onto Forest Road 106 and continue 1 mile to the trailhead at the Forest Road 106D junction.
NEXT MONTH: It’s called Hell’s Hole – but a local hiker explains why it’s more like heaven.
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