Few major cities can offer a natural, forested park as a tourist attraction. Nuuksio National Park in Helsinki is a great exception to that fact. Full of astounding plant and animal life, it is just one more thing that makes Finland’s capital exceptional.
Brimming with lakes and ponds tucked inside thickets, it is a great look into Finland’s ancient past. The country is made up of thousands of islands that arose as the landmass broke up a geological era ago. Nuuksio is one of the finer results.
The park is about 40km northwest of the city center. Located near several of Helsinki’s suburbs, Espoo, Kirkkonummi, and Vihti, the park is a wonderland of flora and fauna. There are Hollywood movie-like meadows and pastures. There are equally dramatic ravines, cliffs, and trails that will keep the most avid nature buff active for days.
Open year ’round, during the summer one can go hiking or cycling. Canoeing is a popular pastime, as well. In winter, skiing through the park is a common practice. Finns strap on cross-country skis as readily as those in Southern California lace-up roller skates.
Along the many trails and around the water areas you are as likely to see a wild lynx as a Siberian flying squirrel. If you happen to see one of the wild cats take a sip from a pond, just keep a safe distance. These shy creatures avoid contact with humans but can be fierce and dangerous when cornered.
One of the larger ponds is Haukkalampi, situated in the eastern part of the park. There are a nature cabin and lots of brochures available there. Stop in and ask one of the friendly staff for information about all the things to see and do in the area.
Just in that area alone, there is an 8km nature trail called Korpinkierros that makes for an outstanding walk. For another all-day excursion try the 4km-long Haukankierros that winds its way around the pond. There are four campsites that provide cooking facilities and toilets, as well.
In the northern section try Kattila, along the shores of another large pond called Kaitlampi.
On the shores of Lake Pitkäjärvi, one can enjoy a 2.6km hiking trail in summer or join in the skiing in the winter. Here you can rent a canoe in summer or enjoy some mountain biking. There’s a downhill skiing resort called Swing Hill nearby that is open during the winter. The facilities don’t offer any ski equipment rental, however. You’ll need to bring your own.
On the southern shore, there’s a cabin that offers something to eat and drink before you set off on a 5km hike along the nearby trail.