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Nuuksio National Park

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Lakes and forest in Nuuksio National Park

Nuuksio National Park [1] (Nuuksion kansallispuisto in Finnish, Noux nationalpark in Swedish) is in Southern Finland close to Helsinki on the outskirts of Espoo, also taking in bits of the neighboring counties of Kirkkonummi and Vihti.

Understand

History

Established only in 1994, Nuuksio is one of Finland's newest national parks, set up to ensure that a piece of pristine wilderness is kept within striking distance of the capital.

Landscape

Nuuksio's landscape is archetypically Finnish: conifer forests, lakes, small swamps between them and gentle rolling hills, sometimes covered in moss, sometimes with the granite bedrock exposed where the vast ice sheets of the last ice age scraped them clean. There are plenty of quiet spots of beauty, but don't expect jaw-dropping gorges or soaring mountains. (Good advice for traveling anywhere in Finland, that.)

Flora and fauna

The Siberian Flying Squirrel (Liito-orava) is official park emblem, but being nocturnal and living high up in the treetops, it's very difficult to spot. The Haukkalampi info center has an exhibit about the critter and even gives handy tips on how to spot its poo.

Climate

Nuuksio's climate is the same as Helsinki's: lovely summers, wet spring and fall, brutal winters. The high season is obviously summer, although mushroom pickers continue to tramp the trails well into the fall and hardcore skiers venture within in the winter.

Get in

There are two public bus services to Nuuksio, and both of them require a transfer if coming from Helsinki. Check schedules before setting off, as services are quite limited, particularly for bus 28.

To get to the eastern side of the park, take the commuter train S, U, E or L from the Central Railway Station to Espoo station, then transfer to bus 85/85A. Get off at Nuuksionpää (85/85A) if going to the main visitor centre at Haukkalampi, or at Kattila (the 85A terminus) if going to the second visitor centre. From Nuuksionpää, it's a 2 km stroll to the park entrance.

To get to the southern side of the park, take the trains A, E, U, S, L or Y to Leppävaara and transfer to bus 28. Buses 28K, 28T go to Hotel Siikaranta on the western shore of Lake Siikajärvi, while bus 28A goes to Siikaniemi on the eastern side.

To get to the rarely visited western side, take a private Pohjolan Liikenne [2] bus to Tervalampi and walk several km.

Fees/Permits

Entry to the park is free.

Get around

The only way to get around is by hiking. The Haukkalampi information cabin (Haukkalammen luontotupa) near the main entrance has simple free maps, or invest 10€ in a detailed topographic map of the area. You can also pick up the map at Helsinki tourist info offices.

See

Mossy boulders on Haukankierros

A number of well-signposted trails are available, while hardcore hikers can head out into the bush and stay at one of the many campsites. For the first time visitor, doing the Haukankierros loop and half of Korpinkierros will provide a good representative look.

  • Haukankierros (blue route). The "Hawk's Tour" is a four-kilometer loop starting and ending at the Haukanpesä information center, looping around Lake Haukkalampi. Lake views, cliffs, mossy boulders.
  • Korpinkierros (yellow route). The "Raven's Tour" is an eight-kilometer loop starting at the Haukanpesä information center, passing through Mustalampi (with campground), Siikaranta and Siikaniemi before returning back. It's also possible to walk only half the route by taking bus 28 in and 85 out.

Do

Picking berries in late summer and mushrooms in the fall are popular activities. In winter, the trails are open to cross-country skiing, although they are not lit or maintained.

Eat, Drink or Buy

No food is available in the park, so bring everything you need. Water is available only at the Haukkalampi information center. Making an open fire is allowed at the designated fireplaces near the campgrounds, so bring some sausages and have a picnic. Some of the fireplaces are covered and thus usable even when it rains.

  • Hotel Siikaranta, Naruportintie 68 (Siikaranta end of Yellow Route; bus 28K, 28T from Espoo stn), +358-9-867971, [3]. Lunch Mon-Sat 11 AM-1 PM, Sun noon-2 PM €18, dinner Mon-Sat 5-7 PM €14. Just outside the park at Siikaranta, the hotel's restaurant offers Finnish-style buffets for hungry hikers, but opening hours are limited.

Sleep

Lodging

Several wilderness lodges can be rented cheaply, but they're popular so advance bookings are essential. You will also need to bring your own sleeping bags.

  • Oravankolo, +358 203 44122, [4]. A modest cabin for 5 persons. Includes a sauna in a separate building. 60€/day.
  • Tikankolo, +358 203 44122, [5]. Another wilderness cabin with a sauna. Room for 6 persons. 60€/day.

There is also one full-service hotel just outside the park.

  • Hotel Siikaranta, Naruportintie 68 (Bus 28K, 28T from Espoo stn), +358-9-867971, [6]. Conference hotel mostly popular with companies arranging corporate retreats. Restaurant (buffet only, limited hours), bar, pool, sauna. €79/94 single/double, including breakfast.

Camping

Camping is permitted only in four designated campgrounds in the park. None have any no facilities, but open fires are allowed.

Stay safe

Apart from vipers and the very remote chance of meeting a bear, there is little dangerous fauna in the park. If you don't have a compass and orienteering experience stay on the main trails. Thanks to the swampy terrain, mosquitoes can be a nuisance, so stock up on the bug spray.

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