Nuuksio National Park
The landscape of Nuuksio National Park is classically Finnish: numerous lakes dot the landscape, all of which are completely engulfed by conifer forests (Division: Pinophyta
). These forests, which top the gentle glacier-carved hills, are cool and damp and are mostly made up of evergreen spruce (Picea sp.
) and pine (Pinus sp.
), both of which are well-adapted to the cold climate--they are more resistant to freezing than most trees, and their conical shape also helps them shed snow.
The dominant tree however, is Norway spruce (Picea abies
), the cones of which you will find scattered around the park. The adorable Siberian Flying Squirrel (Pteromys volans
), which can be seen on the official park emblem, can also be found here; but the fact that it is nocturnal, makes it a very difficult creature to spot.When it comes to the lakes, Mustalampi is definitely one of the highlights. The turf floats (that can be seen in the first half of the video above
) initially detached several decades ago when the water level of the lake rose after the dam was built. They are now not only a unique sight, but also home to nesting gulls (Larus canus
). The gulls flit around the lake amidst a cacophony of squeals and squeaks, whilst common cranes (Grus grus
) silently fly across the lake higher above. This lake is one of the most popular lakes in Nuuksio as it is easily accessible, and was where I started the two looped trails--Korpinkierros
.The turf floats of Lake Mustalampi
The easiest way to get to Nuuksio National Park using public transport is to take one of the commuter trains (S, U, E or L) to Espoo Station from the Central Railway Station in Helsinki. From Espoo Station, you can catch bus number 85, 85A, or 245 for the journey of half an hour or so. You can either disembark at Haukkalammentie and join the trail to head west, or stop at the Solvalla Sports Institute and hike up the access trail for approximately two kilometres to get to the trail head. You can also stop at Nuuksionpää and walk south to the trail head from there. There are several detailed maps online that should help you find your way around.Getting to Nuuksio National Park from the Espoo station
Useful Numbers Nuuksio Customer Service +358 401 63 6200 National Parks +358 205 64 4790 Solvalla Sports Institute +358 986 78 430 Greenwindow +358 985 52 559
The Lakes of Nuuksio
(hovering your cursor over the image below will reveal the names of the lakes)
The trail head is located on the left side of the road opposite the Nuuksio Reindeer park
. The trail makes its way into the forest and on to wooden planks that cross waterlogged terrain. Following the orange and black trail markers will bring you to a stairwell that descends to the shore of the 'Nuuksion Pitkäjärvi' lake, before swinging northwards. The trail then meets the Haukkalammentie road which eventually ends up at a carpark and the Tourist Information Centre. If you are driving, this road can be accessed from a turn-off
at the Nuuksiontie main road.Nuuksio's reindeers (Rangifer tarandus)
Nuuksio National Park has a total of twelve free camp sites
. These camp sites come fully equipped with dry toilets, fire pits for cooking, campfire areas, as well as shelters that contain both firewood and axes to split them. I decided to spend my first night at the Mustalampi campsite, which had a fairly large campground and wide open swaths of space amongst the rocks. The campsite also had great views of both the lake and its turf floats.Clear signage; one of the many dry toiletsNuuksio's Conifers
Korpinkierros Trail*Cick here to learn more about the difficulty rating.
Korpinkierros, which means 'Raven's Tour', is a nature walk that usually begins at the Haukanpesä information center, which is located approximately one kilometre along the trail that leads north from Lake Mustalampi. I began the hike at the western corner of the lake however and clocked in 3.4km for the loop, which should bring the actual total to about 5.5km (which was still strangely almost 2 kilometres shorter than the official estimates). The trail is marked by yellow
signs and, like most of those in Nuuksio, is so well-marked that it is practically impossible to lose one's way. There are oftentimes several markers that can be seen in the distance, which is a little excessive in my opinion and tends to detract from the wilderness experience.A wood cabin lay just beyond the Lake Mustalampi junction, and the trail turned north-west for a short while on a section that was festooned with both yellow and blue trail markers. The yellow trail separated from the blue just shortly after, and the trail swung south and straight towards the Kolmikulmalampi Lake before curving a little in order to sidle its shore.Nuuksio National Park trail markers
Despite the trail being quite wide, I kept an eye out for adders, which are also known as common European vipers (Vipera berus
). These venomous snakes are extremely widespread, and as a result have a lot of folklore surrounding them wherever one goes in Europe. Everywhere except for Ireland
that is. Legend has it that St. Patrick drove all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea, but Ireland has never really had any snakes to begin with, mainly because it is an island. Britain also happens to be an island, yet the adder happens to be Britain's only venomous snake. This is because the post-Ice Age land bridges that linked Europe to Britain 10,000 years ago lasted much longer than the land bridges between Britain and Ireland did, which basically gave animals from Europe, such as the European viper, more time to colonise Britain.Tinder fungus (Fomes fomentarius
) was also quite common along the trail. This fungus infects trees through their broken bark and causes the host tree to rot. It grows on the sides of the tree as a parasite at first, and continues to do so long after the tree itself has died. Tinder fungus is fairly interesting to bushcraft proponents as it has traditionally been the main ingredient of amadou
, which is used primarily as tinder for lighting fires. Amadou was used for this purpose by ancient people, and was even found on the 5300-year-old remains of 'Ötzi the Iceman
'!A common European viper (Vipera berus); tinder fungus (Fomes fomentarius)
The root-filled trail crossed sections of mud, where planks had been laid out to prevent further trail erosion. The trail passed another campsite as it rounded the western shore of the Holma-Saarijärvi lake, before continuing south-east towards the next lake, Poro-Kolmoislampi. The trail branched off just after, and I kept left as I continued to follow the ubiquitous yellow trail markers. Shortly after, approximately 2 kilometres in, I came upon a road of sorts that was large enough for cars. Cabins were then spotted on my right, and they turned out to be the beginning of the settlement known as Siikaniemi. If one chooses to exit the park from here, there is a bus stop that is located further down the trail to Siikaniemi, just before it reaches the northern shore of lake Siikajärvi.I continued on the trail instead, before it veered left sharply and away from the cabins.Stairstep moss (Hylocomium splendens)
Everyman's (person's) Rights
Despite the proximity to people's homes, exploring the vast forests and numerous lakes around Finland comes with very few restrictions. This is because of the traditional Finnish legal concept known as 'Everyman's Rights
'. The term may lack epicenity, but it allows everyone, no matter their gender or nationality, to enjoy the Finnish countryside. This freedom does come with responsibilities however, as nature as well as other people and their property have to be respected. This also helps to ensure that Finland's beautiful yet fragile nature remains pristine.The trail climbed up boulder-filled sections for a while, and I realised then that the only two locations where one could rock climb
in Nuuksio were relatively close by. One of the locations lay on the north-east shore of the huge lake Kolmoislammit, that lay immediately to the north. The trail eventually veered left and followed the path of electrical cables and a road that made its way northward. The trail then passed a large junction with an information board, before ascending up a slope and to the tiny lake of Vähä Romlampi. I continued northwards from there, and before I knew it, the loop was done and I had arrived back at the Lake Mustalampi junction!
Haukankierros Trail*Cick here to learn more about the difficulty rating.
I entered the area with the yellow and blue trail markers once again, but instead of turning left to head south at the junction, I turned right instead. I had just looped around the Korpinkierros
Trail in a counter-clockwise direction, and was now heading up the blue
Haukankierros Trail in a clockwise direction, almost as if I were trying to draw out a mangled '8' on the map.Haukankierros means 'Hawk's Tour', and is a 4-kilometre loop that circumnavigates Lake Haukkalampi. The trail is one of the most popular trails in Nuuksio as hiking it is one of the best ways to get a gist of what the park has to offer. The trail begins with a bit of a viewpoint on a ridge. As I approached, I caught a glimpse of Lake Haukkalampi in the distance, but the further I made my way along the rocks, the more the view became obscured by trees. The root-filled trail then delved into the moist spruce and pine forests. Everything seemed to just get drawn in as the damp gorge narrowed. Things became more concentrated, sounds came alive, and even the running water seemed to speed up. Multiple river crossings were passed and small cliffs loomed out to my sides. The sun peaked through the trees and cast long shadows, which was strange considering that it was only past 14:00--Nuuksio's latitude of 60° N meant that the sun's angle at that time was only 45°.Sphagnum moss lined the sides of the riverbank (Sphagnum sp.)
Just after I descended a metal stairwell, the trail began to climb up the slopes of the hill. The roots that were ubiquitous gradually morphed into rocks and boulders. The boulders were to make up what was to be a ridge-line of sorts, and as I rounded it, views of the Brook Myllypuro valley that looked out to the north-east were glimpsed off to the left. Layers and layers of forest could be seen from this vantage point, as well as numerous light brown patches that were intermingled with the lush green swathes. The patches were areas that were full of skeletal structures of trees that looked as if they had been defoliated, and that reminded me of the dreaded dieback
disease that I had encountered several times when hiking in Australia
. Drummings could also sometimes be heard, as great spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major
) hammered away on the sides of tall tree trunks.Liverwort (Hepatica nobilis); Mezereon (Daphne mezereum)
It began to snow as I made my way down to the carpark and past the information boards. Despite it still being fairly early in the day, I didn't linger too long as I was eager to get out of the now plunging temperatures. I hurried across to the campsite that was located on the eastern banks of the lake, and found a nice spot to pitch my tent. I then bundled myself into the sleeping bag, and watched the snow as it fell softly onto the calm waters of Lake Haukkalampi.