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Intro to Backpacking for Mental Health & Wellbeing




Sep 6, 2024


3 Days


4:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Appalachian Trail

About the Program

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! Co-led by Dr. Heidi Schreiber-Pan, Executive Director of The Center for Nature Informed Therapy, and two other mental health professionals, we will come together for an immersive nature experience in the beautiful Michaux State Forest (about 2 to 2.5 hours from Baltimore).

Facilitators will use their experience in nature-informed mental health to lead participants to unplug and rejuvenate as we hike across the ridges and valleys of the Appalachian Trail.

We will introduce several nature-informed wellness practices and simple mindfulness activities to enrich your experience of the landscape.

Being in nature can boost your mood and improve mental health. Hiking reduces rumination which is associated with anxiety. Just fifteen minutes of walking in the woods generates a 16 percent drop in the stress hormone cortisol. This weekend promises a deep drop in cortisol.

Backpacking provides a welcome break from the feeling of always being ‘switched on’. We’re constantly staring at screens and checking our phones, always plugged into the network of the world.

Wandering where there is no Wi-Fi can really help to relieve the effects of the mental fatigue that technology inevitably brings.

We will meet on Friday and set up camp in Caledonia State Park for the night, where there will be running water and bathrooms. On Saturday morning, we begin our backpacking adventure and camp that evening in a wild area with no running water or facilities. We return to Caledonia State Park around 2 p.m. on Sunday. Anticipate a total of 10 miles for the trip over the two days, with some elevation gain and occasional wet and uneven ground.

This is the perfect experience for anyone who needs some time in nature to recalibrate. For anyone who wants to take their nature connection to the next level. For anyone who needs a digital detox. For anyone who is trying to gain clarity and desires a “cleaning of the mental windshield”.


  • This program is open to those who have a fitness level that allows 2 days of moderate-pace hiking.

  • All food and group cooking equipment will be provided. You will receive a packing list of items you will need that are NOT provided, along with a link to rent gear (such as a tent, backpack, sleeping bag/pad).

  • We will gather/filter water for use on Saturday and Sunday.

  • No experience in backpacking is necessary.

  • We will be carrying packs and hiking trails that are at times muddy and hilly.

*Scholarship available upon request! 

Your Instructor

Eliane Coates

Eliane Coates

Eliane earned her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. She has several years of experience working with adults, adolescents, children and families. Prior to pursuing her counseling degree, Eliane worked in outdoor education and fully believes in the healing powers that come from being in nature.

Rachel Oppenheimer, LGPC

I strive to create a safe space to help my clients achieve self-awareness and feel accepted. I believe that all people are capable of growth. I earned my Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Villanova University. I have experience helping adolescents and adults with anxiety, emotion regulation, negative self-talk, and self-esteem. I assist adults (18+) with maintaining eating disorder recovery. If you are an adult seeking eating disorder recovery support, I strive to help challenge eating disorder thoughts and strengthen your True Self utilizing an Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT) approach.

Eliane Coates
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