Practically at the doorstep of Finland’s capital lies Nuuksio National Park. Offering a wide range of different trails, there’s something for all levels of fitness. For one of the longer ones try Korpinkierros – The Raven’s Tour (or The Raven’s Trail). This 7-8 kilometres long hike is perfect for a half-day excursion. Offering beautiful views over lakes and ponds as well as diverse forests this hike gives a great glimpse of Finnish wilderness at its best.
Disclaimer for the Coronavirus Spring of 2020
During the spring of 2020 when we’re all trying to help flatten the curve and avoid the coronavirus there are a few things to bear in mind even in the middle of the woods.
As everything else seems to be cancelled or closed, the already popular hiking areas are even more crowded than before. This means you should be even more attentive and considerate towards fellow hikers than in normal circumstances. Minimise contact by stepping to the side of the path to allow for others to pass, stay home if you have symptoms and avoid rush hours.
If possible avoid public transportation as well and the cooking shelters and outhouses along the trail.
Hiking Made Easy
What better way is there to enjoy nature than heading out for a good hike? However, especially if you’re not an experienced hiker or you’re new to the country, it might be hard to know where you can go and how to navigate.
Nuuksio National Park is an enormous area – over 50 square kilometres. I don’t recommend just wandering aimlessly into the woods unless you’re a pro level hiker and a super-skilled forest forager.
Thankfully, there’s no need for that as Nuuksio offers a wide range of marked trails – easy to follow and almost impossible to get lost. Even those with no previous hiking experience can find suitable trails here.
The marked trails even have cooking shelters and outhouses along the way for your comfort and convenience. Many of the trails are circular routes, meaning they start and end from the same point.
Korpinkierros – The Raven’s Trail
We headed out early in an attempt to avoid crowds. Even in normal circumstances Nuuksio National Park can get so crowded during popular weekends it’s almost impossible to get there. Thanks to the coronavirus the amount of people heading here is even larger.
Turns out that being early really is the way to avoid crowds. We arrived in Nuuksio at a little past nine in the morning and there were just a couple of other cars in the parking lot.
You won’t find the names of the different trails by the parking lot, so if you’re a first-timer you might find it a bit confusing: in what direction should you go?
Navigate your way towards the information hut by Haukkalampi and look for a sign there with the word “Ympyräreitit”, meaning “circular trails”. There are three coloured dots on this sign, red, blue and yellow. Follow the yellow markers for Korpinkierros.
An Oasis of Tranquillity
I was feeling tense and irritated when we set off, but as soon as the forest encompassed me I could feel my heart rate slow down. As I breathed in the fresh forest air I let go of all that negative energy and could feel myself relax.
A light breeze caressed the top of the gigantic pine trees, creating a gentle swooshing sound. This was accompanied by a cheerful chorus of chirping birds, saluting the arrival of spring.
We walked past a babbling stream and admired the vivid green nuance of the moss-carpet covering most of the forest floor.
Still Waters and Snack Time
Following the yellow markers we continued along the trail and arrived at beautiful Lake Mustalampi with floating mats of peat moss. There’s a cooking shelter with a really nice view here, perfect for those post-coronatime hiking days (hang in there, they’re coming!).
The trail took us along narrow, root-covered forest paths, wider gravel roads and over smooth cliffs. Duckboards and bridges made sure our feet didn’t get wet.
Food with a View
About halfway into our hike my stomach really started grumbling, but we had to wait for quite a while to find that perfect scenic snack spot (I’m very picky when it comes to selecting picnic spots). It wasn’t until the trail finally circled back to Mustalampi that we sat down.
Admiring the blue sky mirrored in the still surface of the water we dug into the contents of our rucksack. There’s nothing like a good hike to get your appetite going and our sandwiches, salmon pie and coffee never tasted so good.
After Mustalampi, it was just around one kilometre left. All in all it took us around 3 hours to finish the trail and in total we walked 8 kilometres.
What to Expect when Hiking Korpinkierros
Korpinkierros is categorised as one of Nuuksio’s challenging trails, but I’d say it’s a pretty undemanding route. With the exception of a few short steeper sections (barely hills) this is fairly easy hiking. I’d say this is a hike suitable for most, regardless of fitness level.
There are a few places that can occasionally get a bit wet, but you’ll do fine with regular sneakers or tennis shoes. In other words there’s no need for expensive hiking equipment.
The trail offers varied terrain. On the gravel roads you could easily walk with for example a stroller, but some parts it’s just a narrow path. In these areas there’s a lot of roots jutting out from the ground, so mind your step to avoid tripping.
There are a few scenic spots, but don’t expect a never-ending parade of breathtaking views. Korpinkierros doesn’t offer the most stunning viewpoints of Finland. But if you find beauty in detail and diverse natural environments I’m sure you’ll enjoy this hike.
Are There Wild Animals in Nuuksio?
In addition to providing excellent hiking, Nuuksio National Park is home to many different creatures.
The area is rich in biodiversity since it provides a lot of different natural habitats. You’ll find secluded valleys, dense forest as well as lakes and marshes. As a consequence, there’s a great variety of species living here including the lynx, otters and the endangered flying squirrel – the park’s mascot. From time to time even bears have been spotted in Nuuksio.
However, fret not – on this and some other of the more popular trails it’s highly unlikely you’ll meet any of these shy creatures. The most exotic thing you’ll see will probably be a fellow hiker.
Important Rules to Follow in Nuuksio National Park
To avoid disturbing nature or other visitors there are special rules that apply when hiking in Nuuksio National Park.
Keep in mind:
- No littering! There are no garbage bins in the park so remember to bring whatever you brought into the park out from it as well.
- You aren’t allowed to light a campfire wherever you want to. There are special campfire sites clearly marked along the route for this purpose. If there’s a forest fire warning, campfires are allowed only in Haukanholma and Mustalampi cooking shelters (or just avoid lighting a fire altogether). You’ll find information about forest fire warnings here.
- Don’t disturb animals or plants. However, you are allowed to pick berries and mushrooms (just make sure they’re the edible kind).
- Hiking with a dog is my favourite kind of hiking. Just remember to always keep your dog on a leash. A national park is a sanctuary for many animals. A pet roaming around freely could easily disrupt the protected wildlife.
- No motorised vehicles are allowed within the park. If you’re riding a bike or a horse, make sure to stay on the marked routes.
For more important rules check out the website for the national parks here.
What’s the Best Time to Hike Korpinkierros?
The best hiking season in Finland in my opinion is autumn, when the fall foliage is it at its most colourful. Summer has its advantages as well, it’s nice and warm (hopefully), and the wildlife really springs to life.
However, spring is definitely not a bad option either. Even though there are no leaves on the trees yet, this particular trail does give a very intense greenness, as the whole forest floor is covered in a thick moss carpet and there are plenty of green pine trees.
During the spring of 2020 when we’re all trying to avoid the coronavirus it’s crucial to time your visit right. But even without the virus, Nuuksio National Park is so popular it gets crowded and avoiding rush hours will make a huge difference to your experience. Let’s face it; if you’re heading here to enjoy the wilderness, you probably want to enjoy the sounds of nature, not noisy fellow hikers.
Head here as early as possible to avoid crowds. If possible go hiking during weekdays, as weekends are the most popular.
How to Get to Nuuksio and Korpinkierros
Korpinkierros and several other trails start from Haukkalampi in Nuuksio National Park. The address for the parking lot is Haukkalammentie 32.
Once you get to the parking lot it can be slightly tricky figuring out where the trail starts. Make your way to the information hut by Haukkalampi (some 300 metres from the parking lot) and from there follow the sign “Ympyräreitit” and the yellow markers for Korpinkierros.
It’s also possible to arrive by public transportation. In fact, normally this would be recommended, but during the coronavirus spring, try to avoid public transportation. Bus number 245 goes to Nuuksio.
Fast Facts About Hiking Korpinkierros Trail
Here are the most important facts in a nutshell:
- Nuuksio National Park is one of Finland’s 40 national parks. It’s located mainly in Espoo, but also stretches on into both Kirkkonummi and Vihti.
- There’s a wide range of different trails to hike within the national park.
- Remember to follow the rules of the national park – you’ll find them here.
- Nuuksio National Park is located close to Helsinki and easily accessible even by public transportation. Spend half a day or several days – it’s up to you.
- Visiting the park and hiking is free.
- Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.
- Korpinkierros is 7-8 kilometres long and takes around 2-4 hours to finish depending on your level of fitness.
- Best scenic snack spots are located at the beginning and end of the trail by Lake Mustalampi.
- The trail is easy and doesn’t require any special hiking equipment – normal trainers will do fine.
- The starting spot is by Haukkalampi and follow the yellow markers for this particular trail.
- Head here early in the morning to avoid crowds.