Nuuksio National Park
Nuuksio National Park (Nuuksion kansallispuisto in Finnish, Noux nationalpark in Swedish) is in Southern Finland, 35 km from Helsinki on the outskirts of Espoo and the neighboring counties of Kirkkonummi and Vihti.
Covering an area of only 45 square kilometers, Nuuksio is a pint-sized marvel.
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. Its location so close to a major city is unusual, and due mostly to the fact that the rocky and wet terrain was unsuitable for farming or other development.
Nuuksio's landscape is archetypically Finnish: conifer and birch forests, forty-three 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.
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 cross-country skiers venture within in the winter.
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.
Use HSL's route planner to find routes from any address in Helsinki region to Nuuksio National Park.
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, it's a two-kilometer stroll along the paved road to the park entrance. If going to the northern side of the park, take 85A to the terminus at Kattila (May-October only).
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 the southwestern side of the park, take a bus 280 or 290 from Helsinki City Bus Terminal (Kamppi Center) to Veikkola koulu and take a taxi to last few kilometers north to the park. You can also walk or cycle those quiet village roads.
To get to the rarely visited western side of the park, take a bus 280 or 290 from Helsinki City Bus Terminal (Kamppi Center) to Tervalammen kartano and walk several km.
To get to the quiet northeastern side of the park, take a bus 346 from Helsinki City Bus Terminal (Kamppi Center) to Pyyslampi. The nature park with its lakes begins right from the southern side of the road.
Entry to the park is free and no special permits are necessary.
Motorized vehicles are prohibited in the park, so most visitors 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.
Bicycling is allowed on 30 km of designated routes, including National Cycle Route 2, 14 km of which passes through the park.
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. This is also the most popular route, and it can get almost crowded on weekends if the weather is good.
- 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.
Picking berries in late summer and mushrooms in the fall are popular activities. Fishing is allowed, although there isn't all that much to catch. In winter, the trails are open to cross-country skiing, although they are not lit or maintained.
Rock climbing is allowed only at Pitkäjärvi and the eastern Kolmoislammet. Ice climbing is permitted throughout the park.
Several tour operators specializes in Nuuksio:
- Green Window, ☎ +358 40-407506001. Arranges guided hikes, group tours, corporate retreats etc in Nuuksio. Has access to several cottages and even a Lappish hut for group accommodation, with saunas for charter as well.
- Feel The Nature Treks (Feel The Nature Treks), ☎ +358 10 581 3890. Feel The Nature Treks arranges guided canoeing, hiking and mountain biking tours in Nuuksio National Park. Wintertime company organizes also snow shoe and ski tour programs.
- BioGeo-Traveller, ☎ +358 44 928 0343, e-mail: email@example.com. Offers guided hikes of various duration and difficulty in Nuuksio National Park. from €25/person; children under age 16 free of charge.
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 (see below) restaurant offers Finnish-style buffets for hungry hikers, but opening hours are limited.
- Hotel Elohovi, Kurjolammentie 38, Tervalampi, ☎ +358-0-2242840. Very popular nature hotel for business and other groups in the Nuuksio National Park. Services: 8 meeting rooms in a peaceful environment, restaurant, 26 rooms (accommodation capacity for 60 persons, lakseside sauna, different excursions to the Park customized according to your wishes. Double room €53/person/night and, single room €91.
- Hotel Siikaranta, Naruportintie 68 (Bus 28K, 28T from Espoo stn), ☎ +358 9-867971. Conference hotel mostly popular with companies arranging corporate retreats. Restaurant (buffet only, limited hours), bar, pool, sauna. €79/94 single/double, including breakfast.
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 40 163 6200. A modest cabin for 5 persons. Includes a sauna in a separate building. €60/day.
- Tikankolo, ☎ +358 40 163 6200. Another wilderness cabin with a sauna. Room for 6 persons. €60/day.
- Hawkhill nature. High standard cottages in Nuuksio.
For groups, Green Window (see Do) can also arrange private lodgings elsewhere in the park.
Camping is permitted only in four designated campgrounds in the park. None have any facilities, but open fires are allowed.
Apart from vipers and the very remote chance of meeting a bear, there is little dangerous fauna in the park. Thanks to the swampy terrain, mosquitoes can be a nuisance, so stock up on the bug spray. Stay on the main trails if you don't have a compass and orienteering experience.