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Nuuksio national park

Nuuksio National Park is one of Finland's 40 national parks, located in the south of the country. The main feature of the park is the Finnish Nature Center "Haltia", which allows you to take a trip through all the natural landscapes of the country a few dozen kilometers (miles) from its capital Helsinki. Because of its proximity, it is also one of the three most popular and recognizable parks and is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the city. There are 3 named mountains in Nuuksio national park but a lot of viewpoints on the rocky cliffs with magnificent views of the forest lakes. The highest and the most prominent mountain is Mustakorvenkallio (114 m / 374 ft).

Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Naming of the Park

The word "nuuksio" in the name of the park is a non-existent word, which, as believed, was specifically invented in the 1930s by a local school teacher who wanted to promote the use of the Finnish language, which at the time did not have as strong a position as nowadays.

It most likely comes from the word "njukca", which means "swan" in the Sámi language, the indigenous people of Lapland, the northernmost region of the country. Yes, you can see swans in the park during the most ordinary hike. For example, I've seen them all three times I've visited it: in April 2011, in September 2012, and in July 2019. However, the symbol and the most common animal of the park is another one, which I will talk about next.

The name of the park in Finnish: Nuuksion kansallispuisto, in Swedish: Noux nationalpark.

Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Geography and Landscape

Nuuksio National Park, covering an area of 53 sq km (20.4 sq mi), is located 37 km (22.9 mi) northwest of Helsinki in the capital region of Uusimaa in Southern Finland.

This distance can be covered quickly and easily by car in half an hour or 2.5–3 hours by public transport. In the latter case you should first take the Vr.fi (E, L, U, or Y) train or bus to the Espoo suburb and then take the 245 or 245A bus to the park, depending on where you want to get off.

The park has three main starting/finishing points for hiking:

  • Finnish Nature Center "Haltia" in the east: Nuuksiontie, 84, Espoo
  • Haukkalampi village and pond also in the east a little further along the road, if you don't want to go into the museum: Haukkalammentie, 32, Espoo
  • Siikaniemi village in the south: Kolmoislammenranta, Espoo

Nuuksio National Park, Finland

In terms of landscape, the park is real wild woods that you would not expect to find so close to Finland's largest city (and even though it is not very big itself with only 500,000+ people). In addition, Nuuksio was my first hike to a national park in a lifetime (and any protected natural area with marked trails, huts, visit center and so on), so I was very surprised, expecting to see a regular city park of large dimensions. I didn’t even take any food with me, which, of course, wasn’t in the park, and I got very hungry on the way back. Don’t make my mistake, take everything you need for a full day hike, including the water. Spring lakes in Finland are safe to drink from even without boiling, but small ponds with no moving water may not be quite suitable.

Then, there are many lakes of different sizes, ponds, and swamps in the park. The largest lake is Pitkäjärvi, a huge water body of thin elongated shape that stretches from north to south in the heart of the park. The Finnish Nature Center "Haltia" is on its eastern shore.

However, the Haukkalampi pond is much better known in the park, which is located also in its center, the place where all its main trails converge, so expect to see quite a few people here, especially on weekends in the summer, when the city's population is greatly increased by tourists. Near the pond there are two smaller ones but no less beautiful: Mustalampi и Valklampi. In addition, there are over 80 little lakes and ponds inside Nuuksio National Park.

Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Valklampi Pond in Nuuksio National Park

The largest mire is Soidinsuo, which is in its natural state like a hundred years ago, surrounded by old-growth forest.

As elsewhere in Finland, the park's third main landscape feature is multiple granite rocks, cliffs and hills overlooking the surface—traces of the retreat of the glacier that once covered all of northern Europe. By the way, the park is far from flat—also to small climbs and descents to a couple of hundred meters (feet).

Just to let you know: Another national park closest to Helsinki, Sipoonkorpi National Park, is east of the city near the other major suburb of Vantaa. But in my opinion he loses to Nuuksio.

Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Flora and Fauna

The Nuuksio National Park is covered with dense forests, which are the oldest in its central Haukkalampi part, dominated by pines and spruces, as well as mixed forests with many birches and other trees. In my experience of hiking in Finland, it is in this combination—pines, and birches—that the Finnish forests are particularly beautiful, as they complement each other, reflecting in the water of the lakes and ponds.

blueberries in the forest, Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Blueberries in the forest

Thanks to the mixed forests, the park is also gorgeous in late September and October, when they turn yellow and red. But I also enjoyed early April, when there was still snow in the park and its main pond was half-covered with ice and the forest streams were making their way through the woods anew. Yes, at this time of year in the park it is very wet, so take waterproof shoes—best of all ordinary rubber boots, as the Finns themselves do.

Swamp nymphaea, Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Swamp nymphaea is an example of flowering plant in Nuuksio National Park

Another reason for hiking in spring is the main animal on the park’s emblem, which I promised to tell you about—the Siberian flying squirrel (Liito-orava in Finnish). This is when they are having their mating season, so you will have more chances to see them. It is distinguished from the average squirrel by the webbing between its paws, which allows it to literally float through the air. These squirrels also have incredibly expressive large black eyes.

Still, it is not easy to see the squirrels—they are usually gray in color and they move mostly at dusk and at night. But the population in Nuuksio is one of the densest in Finland. In total, about 200 nests of these animals in the hollows of trees have been found in the park. They are protected both by Finland and Europe as a whole.

Ranges and Summits

The rocky hills and cliffs in the park, as well as in the entire Uusimaa region, belong to the Svecofennian orogeny geological layer or event, which lasted from about 2 to 1.8 billion years ago during the Paleoproterozoic era. Therefore, despite their low altitude, these rocks are among the oldest in Europe.

The highest of the park’s three peaks, Mustakorvenkallio (114 m / 374 ft) is located in its eastern part, away from the main marked trails. However, it is close to a major road 120 from the center of Helsinki to the north, so you can get on the mountain from the nearest bus stop Takkula near the Saarijarvi Lake with the island in its center.

Nuuksio National Park, Finland

The second highest peak, Punkkivuori (97 m / 318 ft) is located in the opposite western part of the park near the Poikkipuoliainen Lake. Unlike the first peak, there are several marked trails close to it, as well as some roads leading to the peak from nearby parking lots.

The third summit, Tränukättbacket (63 m / 207 ft), is located in the southern part of the park. It is the most distant and lowest, so it is of less interest.

View Points in Nuuksio National Park

Even if you don't make it to the park's highest mountains, you can climb the many rocks and huge granite boulders scattered throughout its territory to enjoy the views of the lakes and forests from them. I would mention at least four excellent viewpoints in the park: the first is the balcony of the Finnish Nature Center "Haltia" overlooking Pitkäjärvi Lake; the second and third are located on the banks of Mustalampi and Valklampi ponds in the park's center; the fourth awaits you on the blue marked Haukankierros trail overlooking the largest Haukkalampi pond.

Haukkalampi Pond, Nuuksio National Park, Finland

View on Haukkalampi Pond from the blue Haukankierros trail in Nuuksio National Park

Best Hikes in Nuuksio National Park

Nuuksio National Park has several hiking trails of easy difficulty, marked with different colors on maps and wooden markers or paint on trees. The trails range in length from 2 to 7.2 km (1.2 to 4.4 mi), including the three main ones: Punarinnankierros (red), Haukankierros (blue), and Korpinkierros (yellow). All of them are circular routes. However, this does not mean that you can't walk more in the park. On the contrary, the park is perfect for it.

Therefore, the main trail of the park is a combination of trails. The classic route starts at the Finnish Nature Center "Haltia", from where you need to follow the orange connecting trail through the woods toward the center of the park. Then take one or both circular trails, red and blue, which will take you another couple of hours until late afternoon. Have a pic-nic on the shores of one of the ponds. Then continue through the park between Kolmoislammit ponds on the yellow Siikaniemi Trail. The whole way will take you all day, or about 20 km (mi), so take one of the first buses in the morning and one of the last ones in the evening. If you travel by car, you can make a loop on the yellow trail and return to the parking lot.

Kolmoislammit Pond, Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Kolmoislammit Pond in Nuuksio National Park

If this is not enough for you, there are two more groups of trails, 5 to 10 km (3.1 to 6.2 mi) or more in length, located at the northern and southern borders of the park in separate recreational areas: near the settlement of Salmi on Salmijärvi Lake and near the settlement of Pirttimäki on Bodominjärvi Lake, respectively.

Skiing in Nuuksio

In winter in Nuuksio National Park you can do cross-country skiing through the forests, but you probably won't find many marked trails here unless someone has laid them out before. The largest of the nearest ski resorts to Helsinki, Vihti Ski Center, is located 48.5 km (30.1 mi) to the northwest of the city. The resort has 3.8 km (2.3 mi) of slopes for both alpine skiing and snowboarding. There are 9 ski lifts at the resort.

Find other ski resorts in Finland on its World Mountain Lifts page on PeakVisor.

Finnish Nature Centre "Haltia"

The Finnish Nature Center “Haltia” is also the park’s visitor center, where you can take a virtual journey through all of Finland’s four major natural landscapes: Helsinki area, Lakeland, Baltic Sea Coast and Archipelago, and Lapland. The center also has an excellent gift store and cafe.

The name of the center is a twist on the name of the country’s highest mountain, Halti (1,328 m / 4,478 ft), located in northwestern Lapland on the border with Norway. Haltia is the first building in Finland made entirely of massive cross-laminated timber and is completely environmentally friendly: it runs on solar panels and collects rainwater and leaves no litter.

The “Haltia” is not only a benefit of gaining new knowledge and inspiration, but also practical. In case you have forgotten any of your equipment, you can rent it from the center: tent, backpack, sleeping bag, waterproof poncho, cooking gear, and so on, and even a child carrier.

Finnish Nature Centre "Haltia"

Nuuksiontie, 84, 02820, Espoo, Finland

+358401636200

info@haltia.com

Haltia.com

Pitkäjärvi Lake, Nuuksio National Park, Finland

View on Pitkäjärvi Lake from the balcony of the Finnish Nature Center “Haltia”

hiking shoes exhibition, Nuuksio National Park, Finland

The evolution of hiking shoes exhibition in the Finnish Nature Center “Haltia»

Kolmoislammit Pond, Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Traditional hiking shoes made of reindeer skin of the Sámi native people of Lapland as part of the evolution of hiking shoes exhibition in Finnish Nature Center “Haltia”

Accommodation

While hiking in the Nuuksio National Park you can stay in a tent at one of 12 free camping sites, on nine of which you can make a fire.

There is also locally famous tree camping, which involves using UFO-like tents from the British brand Tentsile. These tents attach to trees and let you sleep suspended off the ground. You can try tree camping at the Tentsile Experience Green EcoCamp Nuuksio.

You can also rent two complete huts: Oravankolo and Tikankolo, for about €50–80 per night, but you have to do it very early because they are very popular.

A side-step: In general, Nuuksio is the third most popular park in the country, with 314,500 visitors in 2021, primarily due to its close proximity to the capital of Helsinki. (Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in Lapland is the most popular with 699,200 visitors in the same year, followed by Urho Kekkonen National Park in the same region with 446,300 visitors. Nuuksio is also ahead of such parks as Koli, Oulanka, Pyhä-Luosto, Repovesi, among others.

You can make a reservation for the huts in the Uusimaa region at Verkkokauppa.eraluvat.fi by going to the Huts section.

Before and after your trip to Helsinki and the Uusimaa region, you can easily find all kinds of accommodation options, including the famous Finnish cottages with saunas in the countryside. These are common to rent during summer vacations, even among locals.

 Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Cities and Resorts

Espoo is the closest major city to the Nuuksio National Park, which is the second largest in the Uusimaa region after Helsinki. In my opinion, you can visit the city for a day or more by making it a base for hiking in the park. It will cut you a couple of hours off on transportation and allow you to spend more time in nature. There's plenty to see in the city itself, though.

The city's main cultural and architectural attractions come from many different styles and eras. Here are just a few examples so you can get a glimpse of the city:

  • Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral, the oldest preserved building in Espoo, built in the 1480s, and Espoo City Hall, from the the city is managed today
  • Royal Manor House, founded by King Gustav I of Sweden in 1556, and Neo-Renaissance Alberga Manor House built by the Russians in the 1870s
  • Espoo Cultural Center in Tapiola district of Espoo made of several ice-cold buildings of the famous Finnish architect Arto Sipinen; and Otaniemi Campus of the Aalto University (former Helsinki University of Technology) in Otaniemi, with the design of even more famous local architect Alvar Aalto
  • Metro Arena for hockey opened in 1999 and Tapiolan urheilupuisto sports park in the same Tapiola district of Espoo

The official tourist site of Espoo is Visitespoo.fi.

 Espoo, Finland

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