If You’ve Ever Wanted To Experience A Winter Wonderland Like No Other, Finland’s Nuuksio National Park Will Make Your Dreams Come True.
Traversing across ice and snow in a National Park in Northern Europe wasn’t something I thought I could access easily. It was only by chance that in my research for something off the beaten track to do whilst we were in Finland did I stumble across this marvellous opportunity. Nuuksio National Park is located only 45 minutes outside of Helsinki and we decided to commission a private tour guide to take us out for the day.
As we had no idea how difficult a trek this would be, getting a private guide gave us the flexibility to explore Nuuksio at our leisure. I explained to the guide that we had an 8-year-old with us who had never really done anything of the kind and he was extremely accommodating. It turns out the hike was by no means difficult and the ability to start and stop as required enabled us to enjoy the day immensely. I will preface this by saying that we were very well equipped in terms of winter hiking boots and clothing. It is imperative that you’re properly dressed as on some days the park dips below -20 degrees celsius.
Here are our 8 reasons why you must go to Nuuksio National Park in winter. Well actually, we insist. This is a winter wonderland at its best!
NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK REASON #1
Breathtaking. Considered unsuitable for farming or development, Nuuksio’s rocky and wet terrain was only transformed into a National Park in 1994. It’s pristine wilderness of over 40 lakes, swamps, quintessential Finnish conifer and birch forests and ponds within the 45 square kilometre area is truly stunning when its covered in snow.
NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK REASON #2
Not a Single Soul. As the National Park was only such a short distance south of Helsinki and touted as a popular spot for the locals to get away from the city, I naturally assumed that it would fairly busy. As we drove away from the main highway and entered the park, I was immediately struck by how quiet it was. There were hardly any cars in the vicinity and there were certainly not many people around. As we approached the trail where we would start our walk that day, we were officially the only people in sight.
I soon came to the realisation that we had travelled 9452 miles / 15,211 km to be faced with the prospect that we were going to have 45 square kilometres of nature all to ourselves, devoid of not only tourists but even locals. It was bliss.
NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK REASON #3
Frozen Lake. For the first time in my life, I walked on frozen water. Armed with our emergency ice picks around our necks, we started our 8km Korpinkierros trail at Haukkalampi lake. As I stood on the edge of the lake, I was struck by how big it was and when I told Hannah we were going to walk across the lake, her reaction was priceless.
As I’m not a local or a person who is experienced in determining if the ice was safe to walk on, I felt relieved that we had engaged an expert. I mean, I have no idea how to read the appearance of the ice in terms of colour, texture or features, how to calculate the thickness of the ice, understanding the depth of the water underneath nor could I have told you whether the temperature fluctuations would affect the safety levels of the ice!
NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK REASON #4
Accessible. Nuuksio National Park is so easy to get to. As per Finnish National Park website, here is how you can get to Nuuksio:
- Going to the eastern or northern parts of the Park, drive on the Nupurintie Road (road number 110, old Turku road), and then turn to Brobackantie Road towards north in Nupuri. Later Brobackantie road changes to Nuuksiontie road.
- Drive Nuuksiontie road past Solvalla a couple of kilometres. Turn left at the National Park sign, if going to Haukkalampi. If going to Kattila, in the northern part of the Park, stay on the Nuuksiontie road (also called Kattilantie) until it ends.
- To get to the southern part of the Park, from Brobackantie Road follow the signs to Siikajärvi.
- To the western parts, drive via Veikkola.
By Public Transportation
- To the eastern or northern parts of the park, take the bus 245(A) (reittiopas.fi) from Espoo Centre (Espoon keskus). In the summer it gets you to Kattila in Nuuksio, but in the winter it terminates at Nuuksionpää. Trains (S, U, L and E) run to Espoo Centre from for example Helsinki. The regional ticket (‘seutulippu’) is valid on local trains.
- If going to Haukkalampi, the nearest bus stop is about 2 km away, at the fork of the road to Haukkalampi.
- To the southern part of the Park, take the bus 238 (reittiopas.fi) from Leppävaara in Espoo. Trains run to Leppävaara from for example Helsinki. The regional ticket (‘seutulippu’) is valid on local trains.
- To the western side of the park, to Tervalampi, take a coach from Helsinki. The coaches are operated by Pohjolan liikenne (liput.matkahuolto.fi). From Tervalampi it is about 2 km walk to the park.
NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK REASON #5
Easy to Get Around. If you’re great at the outdoors, you don’t need a guide at all as the walking trails are easily identified with very comprehensive maps and markings. Here are some of the trails you can select from:
Nahkiaispolku Nature Trail, 2 km circle trail
Starting Point: Haukkalampi Nature Information Hut
The Nahkiaispolku Nature Trail, 2 km, begins at Haukkalampi Nature Information Hut. Along the trail you find information on habitat restoration. The interesting trail in quite difficult terrain is marked with cone signs.
Kaarniaispolku Nature Trail, 2,7 km circle trail
Starting Point: Parking place in Veikkola industrial area, at the end of the Soidentaantie Road
The Kaarniaispolku Nature Trail, is located in the South West corner of Nuuksio National Park. The trail designed for school group use. The starting point for the trail is a parking place in Veikkola industrial area, at the end of the Soidentaantie Road. The trail is marked with brown cone signs. Along the trail the terrain varies from mossy spruce forests to beautiful Haaversopakko bog, and from spectacular rocky forests to an old disposal site.
Haukankierros Trail, 4 km circle trail
The quickest way to get a general impression of the Nuuksio National Park is to walk the Haukankierros Trail.
The trail goes up to high rocks, where you have the great scenery towards Haukkalampi and Brook Myllypuro valley. The trail is marked with blue signs. At the halfway of the trail, west side of Haukkalampi lake there are about 30 meters long steel stairs. It is possible for a dog to walk beside the stairs. Sights include the scenery to Brook Myllypuro valley, and the turf floats of Lake Mustalampi. At the halfway of the trail, west side of Haukkalampi lake there are about 30 meters long steel stairs.
Korpinkierros, 8 km circle trail. This is the trail we did.
Starting Point: Haukkalampi
Korpinkierros, 8 km, crosses Rajakallio Rock with a long uphill climb. Along the trail you can see many small lakes and ponds. The trail is marked with yellow signs. Services include Haukkalampi Nature Information Hut at starting and ending points, water available at the Guide Hut, camping site, campfire site and cooking shelter at Lake Mustalampi, reservable camping site at Lake Kolmoislampi, two campfire sites/ camping sites and a lean-to shelter at Lake Holma-Saarijärvi.
NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK REASON #6
Sled. The guide brought along a small sled/toboggan for Hannah just in case she got tired along the walk. Which of course she then “claimed” she was! Hahaha! The sled turned out to be a great idea as Andrew dragged her across the lake as she decided to vlog her way through on the Go Pro. We managed to also sneak in some tobogganing which of course was just good wholesome fun.
NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK REASON #7
Campfire Lunch. We stopped at one of the campfire sites for a small lunch. We were treated to hot lingonberry tea and local bread and pastries. After walking for a few hours in the freezing cold weather, that tea was nothing short of heaven. And whilst we were sipping on that sweet liquid, the pastries were being toasted over the fire. And that heat was just bliss as we sat down for a rest whilst the little one got straight onto roasting some marshmallows.
But we were eager to get going again because we were freezing! The walk was keeping us nice and warm. Oh and we were hopeless on the ice surrounding the campfire. Slipping and sliding away as we watched our guide expertly manoeuvring around. At one point I just sat down and bum shuffled my way back down to the lake. I had this fear I would fall and crack my head open!
NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK REASON #8
Reindeer Farm. On the way back, we stopped by at a Reindeer farm for the feeding session. We got to feed them lichen, their favourite thing in the world. We also got to meet Oscar, the grouchy alpha male with magnificent antlers. He was however a bit of a bully as he wouldn’t allow us to feed the females and would chase them away whenever we tried. So we had to feed the ladies in stealth decoy mode as we distracted Oscar on the other end of the feeding platform.
I do highly recommend going with a guide and Olli from Feel The Nature was fantastic. Transport is covered to and from the park, he had all the necessary equipment such as walk poles, snow shoes if required and emergency paraphernalia and we didn’t have to think (no maps or having to identify trail markings) throughout the whole day and was just led by him. Olli’s tour also incorporates learning about nature and so he taught us a little bit about Scandinavian flora and fauna and the animals that inhabited the area.
All of us had an incredible day. One we will never forget. And the fact that we got to experience this all on our own with no one else in sight was a real highlight. We didn’t at any point feel tired and Hannah did the 8km with ease. In fact, it didn’t even feel like 8km because we were just having so much fun. Please, please visit this National Park in the winter. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
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