In July we did a round trip in the eastern part of Finland, and drove through towns like Mikkeli, Savonlinna, Imatra, Punkaharju and Kotka. All very nice places to visit during the summer and the eastern part of Finland is famous for its sunshine.
On the way home we stayed one night in city of Kotka in a place called Kartanohotelli Karhulanhovi. We didn’t stay at the manor house but one of the guest houses, which we actually got all to ourselves including kitchen and the friendly staff even offered to heat the sauna for us, luxurious! We also enjoyed the art exhibition inside and outside of the manor house. (This is by the way not a paid advertisement, we just genuinely liked the place so much that I want to recommend it to you too!)
After a good night sleep and delicious breakfast, it was time to find Valkmusa National Park. Valkmusa offers an easy 2-4km hike in beautiful swamp scenery.
Valkmusa immediately became one of my absolute favorites of the Finnish National Parks. The duckboards were in good shape and the nature was absolutely stunning. There were simple benches along the way where you could sit down and enjoy the scenery. I’m sure you would be able to see elks and perhaps even bears if you stayed there long enough! We didn’t spot any animals this time.
Cotton grass was blooming and cranberries and cloud berries were growing alongside the duckboards. Seeing the cranberries and smelling the stunning scent of marsh labrador tea flowers took me right back to my childhood when my family was living in a house nearby a swamp. My Mom used to pick the cranberries and make whipped porridge. I loved hiking in the swamp as a child, it was exciting to walk there and try to watch out for the bog eyes. Back then there were no mobile devices so getting really stuck to a bog eye would have really meant trouble! I remember pulling my rubber boot out of the peat many times and walking home with a wet sock..
Valkmusa is really a hidden gem that not too many people know about. I highly recommend to visit it, it’s only 1,5h from Helsinki and you can visit the beautiful city of Porvoo on the way.
In the beginning of July we did a day trip to Leivonmäki National park. It’s a large forest and lake area about 2 hours drive from Helsinki, Finland. We decided to hike the Mäyränkierros trail which is a circular track that you can hike in about one hour.
The forests was quite impressive place and the hiking tracks were in good condition. The capital area has also many forests where we go for hike, but there you can almost always hear distant sound of cars somewhere. In this national park the silence made the place enchanting.
Seeing “beard moss” (‘naava’) grow on a tree is a guaranteed sign that the air is pure, as these lichen don’t grow in any polluted areas. They really do look like an old man’s beard don’t they?
The trail had also duckboards through the more damp swamp areas. It was nice to have a lot of variety in the scenery. The trail passed also several small lakes.
Forest offered also these tasty treasures, cloud berries (‘hilla’). It’s easy to understand where their English name comes from, because they do look like little clouds. These berries are highly valued in Finland and a traditional way to enjoy them is to eat them with “Finnish squeaky cheese”, which is specific kind of cheese made from cheese curd which is processed into flat-bread like cakes. The cheese makes a squeaky sound when you bite it.
The forest also offers a glimpse into the history. There are glacial erratic, rock formations from the ice age.
I was hoping to hear the nightjar (‘kehrääjälintu) singing, this national park is among the most significant territorial areas of this bird. Its singing resembles the the whir of a spinning wheel. Maybe next time!
Today I went hiking to national park called Nuuksio which is nearby Helsinki. You can reach the park best by own car, but it’s also reachable via public transport (closest buss stop is approximately 2km away from the Haukkalampi trails). If you arrive by car, you can use Haukkalammentie 32, Espoo in the navigator. And if you come by public transport, you can plan your journey with journey planner. You can visit the park rangers by Haukkalampi and get the trail maps (the trails are well marked with square shape colorful marks by the trails).
Although today was very cloudy and nature is preparing for the winter and snow, walk in the forest was good as always. I chose to hike the Korpinkierros trail (‘korppi’ means ‘raven’), which is about 8km long trail. There are also shorter trails available and you can also hike several trails if you want to spend the whole day in the forest.
I recommend to pack some snacks with you, as there are places where you can light camp fire and sit down for a while. It’s a nice experience to light the camp fire and grill some foord, or just warm by the fire.
The trails go up and down hill, some parts have duckboards. There is also a small island where you can camp over night. During the summer when the trees have leaves, it’s a nice hidden place where you can spend relaxing time swimming and camping. The island is connected to the mainland with a bridge.
This time my goal was just to get some exercise, but there would have been still mushrooms available. I came across people picking Cantharellus tubaeformis (Suppilovahvero) and found some Albatrellus ovinus (Lampaankääpä) by the trail. Nuuksio is a great place for picking mushrooms and berries in the summer and autumn.
I’m still “old school” when it comes to exercising in the nature, I enjoy hiking peacefully. But Nuuksio is the place to be if you also enjoy a bit more extreme sports. I met several trail runners and mountain bikers too. I definitely recommend a day trip to Nuuksio, you can experience some great scenery!