In paid collaboration with Kestävästi kasvua kesään Itä-Lapissa -project

In the morning, the weather forecast for the day was looking grim, giving us reason to consider back-up options for our trip to the fell. Thankfully luck was on our side, as the worst rainfall cleared up in the early afternoon. When the time came for us to start heading towards Kivitunturi fell, the sky was left with nothing more than a dense fog. This suited us well, as a misty fog over the forest wetland adds to its magnificence! The plan was to do the Kivitunturi Nature Trail basic route, 5.9 kilometres in length. Our fell tour was not so basic, however, as we would be joined by an exceptionally energetic and furry companion to get to this exceptionally beautiful fell.

Led by our guide for the day, Reija, we drove along dirt roads to an empty parking lot. On arrival, the star of our hike hopped out of the back trunk of Reija’s car: Alit the husky. Reija’s company, Radnis Northern Venture, organises farm tours and other guided adventures such as the husky hike we were about to go on. 

Alit had different coloured eyes, one brown and one blue – in fact, the word ’alit’ means blue in Sami, and the dog is from the Sami land. We took in the fell’s silence for a moment while Alit took the chance to do some unfinished business after the exciting car ride, then we were on our way!

The forest of Kivitunturi resonated peacefulness. The kota, our trip’s first stop, was as silent as the trail we followed. You could almost wrap yourself in the magic and stillness of Lapland’s warm and misty forest. The first signs of autumn could be seen here and there in the yellowing of birch branches and red shades of bunchberries.

It was a short walk to the first lookout point. After a warming workout up a flight of steps, we looked out from the terrace-like platform at the misty evergreen forest. The candle-like fir trees gave off a fresh earthy scent with a hint of musty aromas.

As I took my raincoat off, I realized that the brisk air had warmed up. The warm feeling was not just from the step workout to the platform – the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds. 

Kivitunturi hiking trail differs from other fell trail in that no expenses have been spared with the trail infrastructure. Flights of steps, boardwalks, and other wooden structures along the trail lighten your step and make the route feel shorter. This feeling is of course also influenced by the interesting sights to see at regular intervals along the way, the first of which is this lookout point.

“Luojanluomalaavu” is the first actual sight on the route, and it certainly is a memorable sight to see. The name literally means ”laavu created by God”, for a good reason. Karoliina posed for a photo in front of the lean-to with Alit, though in reality we didn’t stop here for long. A little further down the path is the official campfire site, so at Luojanluomalaavu we focused simply on admiring the scenic nature.

The trail was spotted with smaller and larger puddles, which Alit enjoyed cooling off in. It was fun to watch the husky greatly enjoying himself as he splashed around in the water. I wasn’t feeling particularly warm after taking off my raincoat, yet the thought of joining Alit in the forest pools was tempting. I contained myself this time. 

After our first sight-seeing warmup at Luojanluomalaavu, we were ready for the highlight of the trip, “Pirunkuru”. Here, a suspension bridge hangs over a magnificent gorge. Alit didn’t require any extra coaxing to cross the bridge, but after crossing we let him take a break with Reija while Karoliina and I went back to the bridge to get a better look at the gorge.  The steep and rugged drop is not done justice in pictures – this beauty must be experienced in-person!

While looking out from the bridge, I noticed for the first time that the blanket of clouds had started to give way to a small blotch of blue in the sky! For a moment the clouds still worked to patch up the sky, but the day was starting to brighten.

After Pirukuru, the trail continued with a fair share of paths, flights of steps, and boardwalks. The forest opened up to a bright sight of bushy pines with tufts of hanging moss and puddles and ponds shimmering on the shoulders of the fell. 

Our next break was at “Äitipetäjänlampi”, or mother pine’s pond. Awaiting us in front of the half-kota was a campfire, looking out to a calm, clear pond. Alit took a gulp from the pond and waded in for a bit before settling for a birch shrub root as his resting spot. After circling a few times, he was fast asleep. The dog lay in peaceful silence for the whole time that we snacked. We didn’t make a fire this time since we didn’t have the need for it. Reija had baked us blueberry pie, and boiling hot water was waiting in a thermos flask. Reija served us rose-hip tea, and everything was so delicious that it felt like nothing could have been better in that moment. 

At our rest stop, I examined the trail map and oops! I thought we were already almost at the peak, but according to the contour line the real ascent only started from here. The curve rose almost straight upwards. In reality, the trail sloped gently upwards with trees to push from on the way to the top. 

As we climbed higher and the weather brightened, the landscape started to appear. I am partial to the versatility of nature in Kivitunturi. The small bodies of water bring to life the already distinctive fell. I could spend forever admiring the view, the verdant nature nestled between water and stone creating a collection of miniature worlds. 

The autumn colours of “ruska” were already visible on the blueberry bushes, as could be expected in August. There were also still plenty of large ripe blueberries, which we took the time to pick along the way. The lingonberries were not ripe yet, cloudberry season was long gone, and cranberry season was still to come, but the blueberries were a perfect snack for the trip. 

I’m one of those people who finds water enchanting. As we reached a babbling stream running over jagged rock, it would have been impossible for me to pass by without stopping to examine it. I studied the water and how it smoothened the edges of rocks and formed a shiny, velvety surface over them. I broke the water’s surface and felt the rock with the entire palm of my hand, while the running water smoothened my hand as well. The water was clear, accentuated by the needles and leaves mixed within it. While I stopped to admire the water, Alit decided to take a drink as there was nothing more exciting to do.

The highest point of Kivitunturi is really quite humble. There is no showy pile of stones or sharp peak – in fact, as we examined the map, we realised that the fell seems to have at least two peaks. The path only traverses one of two gigantic bumps that sit side-by-side. The surface boasts a wide and beautiful landscape, low-growing pine trees and other forest, and the stunning scenery opens far out into the horizon. According to the old – or perhaps new? – wooden sign close to the peak, the Soviet Union is 71 kilometers away.

The peak was followed by a steep and narrow path downhill, through rocky and forest terrain. At this point, I wish I had something more supportive on my feet than rain boots. The slope led us to a beautifully colourful sunlit forest, the rays of light transforming blueberry shrubs into sparkling rubies. 

At the parking lot, we said goodbye to Reija and thanked her and Alit for a wonderful trip. Alit hopped in the car as if he had springs in his paws. Our journey continued onwards to “Samperin Savotta”, our place for the night. A short drive from Kivitunturi, it is located on the shore of Kemijoki river at the edge of Savukoski village. 

Waiting for us there was Ms. Santa Claus cottage’s cosy room and inviting beds as well as “Marski’s sauna”, already radiating heat. The heavy log sauna, originally built in Saunakangas for President Mannerheim, was later moved to this spot at Kemijoki’s beach cliffs. We studied the markings and numbers on the logs while keeping an eye on the spectacular sunset on the river. A thin layer of fog formed over the river as the sun set. The water of Kemijoki was clear, enabling the late evening light to shine beautifully on the riverbed plants. We stayed in the sauna until it got dark, and fell sound asleep as soon as we got into bed. Thank you Savukoski!

Translated by Karolina Salin

See also

Visit Savukoski-Korvatunturi – Korvatunturi.fi

Radnis Northern Venture

Samperin Savotta

Reach the wilderness overnight by train – paddle at sunset in Salla

In commercial partnership with Visit Raseborg

Ekenäs old town, a colorful array of quaint houses and passageways, looks like something out of a painting. Given its picturesque appearance and proximity to the nature paradise of Ramsholmen, as well as the reasonable travel time for most Finns, the area is surprisingly quiet outside of the summer season. As summer fades, the streets of Ekenäs grow silent. Yet, it’s hard to imagine this hidden treasure more stunning than in this moment of peaceful bliss. This scenic spot is just a train or bus ride away!

Ekenäs on a map

Villa Skeppet is visible from the parking lot and starting point of Ramsholmen hiking routes. It is currently owned by the Christine and Göran Schildt Foundation, and you can learn more about its history by booking a guided tour. The building was designed by Alvar Aalto as a home for his friends Christine and Göran. Read more.

As we set off on our Ekenäs sightseeing trip, the cool October day was already turning to dusk. A sunflower peeking out from behind a wooden fence caught my attention. It seemed to be gazing at the sun and sea, and turned out to perfectly encapsulate the evening ahead: the scenery of our Ekenäs trip was fit for a postcard, filled with sunlight and lovely shades of “ruska”, Finland’s autumn colours!

Walking through Laivuri park, we marveled at what might be the thickest trees I have ever seen. In the other direction the blue sea glimmered beautifully, yet another view fit for a postcard.

My adventure buddy Karoliina turned her gaze up from the roots of the gigantic trees and spotted a bell hanging high up. The bell is a monument to the artist Helene Schjerfbeck, made for anyone to ring by pulling the string handle that hangs on a pillar. The sound travels far with the sea, even to Ramsholmen forest where the artist was said to enjoyed painting. Schjerfbeck lived in Ekenäs during the year 1925–1941, even having a nearby street named after her.

In one step we had left the park and were surrounded by the charming passageways of the old town. My mind was already somewhere much further, as far as Åland or even a storybook, with quaint houses and polished alleys. The magnificent features of the landscape contained captivating intricate details, such as the blocks named after sea animals. Among them were shark, whale, seal and many more, in Swedish.

The streets and alleys had revealing names such as “glove-maker’s” street and “hatter’s” street – the latter immediately brought to mind Alice in Wonderland. The names actually signify the town’s history, which is deeply rooted in the working class of the past. Nowadays the old working-class homes are mostly vacation homes. For those tickled by the thought, there were a few houses with “For Sale” signs in the windows!

Read more here about Ekenäs old town and other guides.

We stopped by the church. The current church building was completed in 1842. The original church was a small wooden building built in 1600, and in between there was a stone church that was burned down in a fire. The current church looks like a white stone giant towering over the low-lying wooden houses of Ekenäs old town.

Porcelain statues, teddy bears, and special mirror installations were on display in the house windows, which I figured were “gossip mirrors”. These allow those inside the house to see what’s happening on the street and who is walking there (with who!) without being seen. A great method of observation, and probably a spectacular source of gossip back in the day.

I liked that bulletins had been put up on the streets about people who influenced the area. Some were familiar, but most were completely new to me. One of the new names included Olof Bäckström (below), but I learned that he was the one to invent Fiskars scissors! These bulletins were scattered around town, a great addition for independent travelers.

Karo and I walked around solely on intuition, choosing to take whichever street or alley looked inviting. The setting sun of the October evening cast moody shades of light on the landscape only seen at this time of the year. The late autumn light is a magical sight by the sea of the south coast, and it beautifully complimented the nature and old town of Ekenäs. The rays of light refracted by windows and colourful shades completed the scenery with contrasts and effects.

We arrived at Raippatori. It was a small, cobble-stoned square between the old town and beach. The spot’s gloomier history aside, I enjoyed the sparks of colour: the yellow, red, and green shades from the buildings, trees, and vines were almost too much against the blue sky!

Raippatori is reminded of its history not only by its name, ”whip market”, but also by the still standing pole of shame in the market. There was a time “when crimes were punished by public whipping”, as mentioned on Visit Raseborg’s website. The current atmosphere here does not at all give away its past.

Our journey continued from the pole of shame to another narrow passageway. The colours of the houses and fences continued to intensify, competing for saturation in different shades of red. The sunny weather forecast for the evening did not disappoint; the place would be stunning in any weather at any time of year, but on our trip it felt like nothing could be better than a sunny autumn evening in Ekenäs.

The city of Ekenäs was founded in 1546. Four years before Helsinki! Back then it was a small fishing village and Sweden’s king Gustav I gave it city rights. Most of the preserved buildings to this day are from the 1700’s and 1800’s. To think! But if you look around you, the charming houses speak for themselves. 

Though the houses are not quite as old, it’s mind-boggling to think that the same passageways we were walking have been there since the 1500’s. It’s difficult to imagine what the world looked like back then, it feels so distant. At the same time, my heart is filled with warmth and comfort by the thought that my ancestors might have walked these same streets on their daily errands. 100, 200, or even 500 years ago – these streets already existed.

The air was calm. There were few other pedestrians, some passageways were totally empty. It was peaceful and clean; I noticed that the only “trash” on the streets were shriveled leaves from the trees, which were swept by the gentle sea breeze and rustled softly against the cobblestone asphalt.

Even without a map, it felt like were always exactly where we needed to be. Next we arrived completely by chance at a square, Raatihuoneentori, lined with cafes and restaurants. Café Schjerfbeck was already closed, but it looked cute and the windows mirrored the park’s autumn colours wonderfully. I walked a small round in the park (bottom right picture below) and noticed some city bikes. It would have been a great option for sightseeing the area if I had noticed early. You can read more about city bikes here

Market days at Raatihuoneentori are year-round on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I will have to come back when there’s snow to see the area in a totally different way!

Ekenäs old town hall below. So magnificent!

At the edge of the square was a map of the old town. This map is a great guide of the area if you prefer more organized sightseeing than Karo and me. We were more tempted by the freedom of letting our thoughts and feet guide us instead of the map. Laivuri park, which we passed through in the beginning of our trip, is seen on the bottom right of the map (Laivurin puisto).

Karo luckily noticed that cafe Cafferien at the edge of the square was still open. The time was quarter to five, so we had 15 minutes. The café was bustling with teens spending time together, mothers and children, as well as older folks. We ordered coffee and cake – the vegan raspberry pie with oat vanilla sauce was delicious – and we had just enough time to enjoy them peacefully. It was the perfect pitstop before the next leg of our journey, as our city break was about to be swapped out for a nature hike.

After the coffee, we meandered through the town to our starting point, from where we would start heading in the opposite direction. First we wandered for a moment on the silent Kuninkaankatu (“king’s street”), which was full of brick-and-mortar stores that had already closed for the day. I already knew the story behind this, as I read beforehand that this was the first pedestrian street in our whole country, and the stores still close in the “old tradition” at five o’clock.

For those who enjoy shopping and dining, I recommend Ekenäs as a day trip in the sense that shops and cafes are mostly open during the daytime. My introverted heart was less interested in the services available but could have burst from joy at the quiet and exquisite views that provided endless photo opportunities.

As we once again passed Laivuri park’s giant trees, Helene’s bell, and Villa Skeppet, we were soon back at the parking lot where our car was waiting. The car could wait a little longer, however, as we went past and found the starting point for the hiking paths of Ramsholmen. The guidepost effectively displayed the main features of the area, and we took a picture as a backup on our journey.

Though Ramsholmen is most often spoken of, the entire area also includes Hagen and Högholmen. Wooden bridges connect the islands, and the route’s charm comes from the European-style grove’s magical atmosphere and the sea views. The views are best admired by choosing paths that occasionally escape the forest’s shade to open shores.

The sun approached the horizon, producing a jungle of cool shadows and warm rays of light. The main track was solid and wide, but smaller paths strayed here and there. We once again allowed our feet to guide us. We crossed paths with dog walkers, photographers, parents with their children, runners, walkers, and cyclists. Many smiled and greeted us.

At the first bridge, we stopped to take in the scenery so elegantly painted by the sun and the running water below us.

I must shamefully admit that I am unfamiliar with the tree species in the area. Some trees seemed to reach the sky, at the least. The few I could recognize were maple and common hazel. Many spots on the ground were covered in a carpet of maple leaves, their colour enriched by the refracted light.

The refracted sunlight is a reason why I recommend Ramsholmen specifically as an evening stroll destination. Why not a morning walk as well! The thick shade of the grove is in striking contrast with the bright sunlight on the shores, and in many places we felt like were shifting between worlds as we stepped from light to dark and vice versa.

The next bridge is longer than the first, and the scenery totally different. The bridge stretched across reeds openly while water flowed narrowly beneath it. The gold-tinted reeds swayed in the wind and gave the archipelago an authentic touch.

As we moved onward, the route narrowed and was totally covered in leaves in some places, but it was still easy to follow throughout the trip. Our surroundings switched between blue-green pines of the coniferous forest and grove filled with green foliage and yellow-orange leaves on the ground.

Most of Ramsholmen is wheelchair-accessible, but the area of Högholmen is not suitable for wheelchairs. The coniferous forest was particularly uneven.

On the way back, we had one last cherry on top of our Ekenäs cake. This was watching the sunset on the beach, and it was timed perfectly! The passage shaded by the common hazel led us to the beach, where the bright orange light awaited us.

As we arrived to the beach, it was empty. It would have been an amazing spot to go swimming if we had brought swimsuits and towels. There was even a changing cubicle conveniently there. Next time!

The sun gives off the most intense rays and fullest colours just before it dips beneath the horizon. We were able to enjoy the breathtaking view of the final orange rays shining on the forest floor. Dusk began to descend on our way back to the car, and had just about taken over as we arrived.

We were given one final goodbye from Ramsholmen on our way back. Above, the light of the setting sun shining through the treetops set the autumn colours into blazing flames.

In addition, I noticed a small movement from a bush on the side of the road. A deer crossed the road, seemingly quite tame as it let us pass quite close by it once it had made its way to the shelter of the forest.

Though I had guessed that Ekenäs old town and Ramsholmen were beautiful destinations, I have to say that the trip exceeded my expectations. The area is also so close to Helsinki metropolitan area that most can visit relatively easily. It’s vital to remember your camera, as a more photogenic place is hard to even imagine! There is plenty of accommodation available in the region, so I would warmly recommend a mini-vacation here for those who have the chance.

Learn more

VisitRaseborg.com

Travel to Raseborg without a car (VisitRaseborg.com)

Ekenäs Old Town (VisitRaseborg.com)

Helene Schjerfbeck (VisitRaseborg.com)

Alvar Aalto architecture in Raseborg (VisitRaseborg.com)

Beautiful places nearby

Billnäs ironworks is now 380 years old – the beautiful village is a great destination for a summer trip

The Antskog Ironworks in Raasepori – a historical idyll by the river

One of the most beautiful hiking areas in Raseborg hides among the reed beds and hazel groves – hiking on the trails of lake Lepinjärvi at dawn

Culture & cardio – experience the Embankment route from the capital region to Fiskars on a train and bike

In paid collaboration with Kestävästi kasvua kesään Itä-Lapissa -hanke

In the end of August, we spent a week discovering the best of Salla, Savukoski, Pyhätunturi, Kemijärvi and Posio in Eastern Lapland, Finland. The end of summer couldn’t be a more perfect time – no mosquitoes and few tourists, just the peace and calm of the wilderness. Our program for the week included cycling and climbing, hiking in the fells with and without huskies, as well as horse riding and stand up paddleboarding. Our very first stop on arrival, however, was a paddling trip on a serene lake in the wilderness.  

It’s a long way to Lapland from the south of Finland: it can be over 1000 kilometres depending on the destination, and easily 12 hours of driving. That’s why taking the night train is so handy, with the additional option of taking your car onboard. We loaded our car onto the train at Pasila railway station in Helsinki and travelled through the night across the whole of Finland, up to Kemijärvi!

Pasila railway station, Helsinki

The evening was well spent watching the sun set from our cabin window, and as dusk set in we saw the brightly lit Häme Castle reflected on the surface of Vanajavesi lake. The cabin was compact, with two comfortable bunk beds and a small private lavatory. Ear plugs effectively blocked out any rattling noises from the train during the night, permitting a good night’s rest.

Our train journey ended in Kemijärvi, at a modest railway station. The air was crisp – the previous afternoon in Helsinki went up to 30 degrees Celcius, here it was 14 degrees. The railway station slowly filled with people clearly lacking their first morning coffee.

Kemijärvi railway station

After around half an hour we got our car out from the train carriage. Our first stop was in fact for coffee in Kemijärvi centre, before heading towards Salla!

It took no more than an hour to get from Kemijärvi to the base of Sallatunturi fell. On the way we checked the weather forecast, which promised cloudy skies that should clear up by the evening. The cotton clouds blanketing the sky were a calming sight on our way to Sallatunturin Tuvat, where we made camp for the first night. My friend, whose journey had started a few days ago, was overjoyed to be able to do laundry, while more than anything my appreciation was focused on the calming silence around us and the hut’s ambient interior.  We had a short rest after the drive to recharge for the evening’s adventure. 

After our break we quickly dropped by Kaunisharju lookout point, located just a few kilometres from Sallatunturi, along the road towards Kuusamo. The lookout point opens out to a fantastic view of Finland’s newest national park!

Kaunisharju lookout point, Salla national park

Our first scheduled activity for the evening started at Salla nature centre, with Timo from Salla Wilderness Park. Soon we were joined by a Dutch family of four, and the evening’s program could begin. After getting into Timo’s car, we cruised down a dirt road to the edge of a serene lake.

The road continued up the Northeast side of Hangasjärvi to an elegant high ridge with a beautiful view of the fells. Looking out at the landscape, we wondered as a group what our chances might be of seeing the northern lights if the sky would stay clear through the evening. My friend, and especially the Dutch, were thrilled by the idea.

It was a steep descent from the back of the ridge to the shore of Hangasjärvi. Timo gave us brief safety instructions and handed out life vests and paddles. It wasn’t long before everyone sat merrily in their canoes. 

Hangasjärvi is around three kilometres in length, an oblong but narrow and practically untouched lake very close to Sallatunturi. The water’s surface was wonderfully smooth, perfectly reflecting the forest landscape throughout the evening. You could almost touch the silvered pine and gently rising mounds of fuzzy marshland. 

Paddling felt safe and pleasant, not at all difficult, even though I’ve truly only paddled before in my youth. The canoe was comfortingly stable and relaxing. The bow murmured soothingly as it broke the water’s surface ahead of us. It felt as if time stood still in the silent night air, only broken by the occasional hushed conversation between paddlers and the clopping hooves of reindeer in the nearby forest.

The setting sun painted the few clouds left in the sky gentle purple and orange hues. Aptly named the sunset paddle tour, it couldn’t have been timed better. We paddled toward the southeast end of the lake, passing through a narrow strait where we were briefly immersed in the dense forest. Taking a moment to stop and let the canoes glide along the lake’s surface, the silence and surrounding nature were breathtaking. I dipped my fingertips in the water to find that it was pleasantly warm, not the chilling cold that I was expecting. 

The setting sun is unique in its ability to paint many different moods on the landscape in the same moment. I sat at the bow of the canoe – the slave’s seat, according to the guide, though it didn’t feel like it – and my friend sat at the back, steering our direction. I got to admire the views ahead of us; the blue sky and chartreuse shores mixed with forest glowed beautifully against the towering sun-kissed backdrop of Ruuhitunturi fell. When I turned to look back, the first signs of dusk already showed in the reddening sky and forest darkened by the backlight.

Once we reached shore on the other side of the lake, our guide made a cosy campfire and served us coffee, tea, and a local delicacy: ‘kampanisu’, or a comb-shaped sweetbread. The peaceful moment was a perfect chance to exchange thoughts and ideas with the rest of the group. The Dutch told us about their journey here by ship and train, from the Netherlands via Germany to Finland, and finally Lapland. They were planning to continue to the North Cape and Lofoten islands before returning home. The family seemed delighted with their trip so far. 

Those who wanted also got to cook sausages over the fire, the traditional Finnish camping food! The crackling fire and buzz of the group’s discussions created a lulling backdrop for watching the different phases of the sunset and increasing stillness of the lake. There was even a rocking chair next to the kota to sit and marvel at the landscapes. 

After getting the canoes back in the water, we paddled back towards the starting point. The night sky was gradually cast with clouds of different sizes, colours, and shapes. Eating and gazing into the campfire left me feeling drowsy as we glided into the dusk that had descended on the lake. The tranquility calmed the mind, and even though conversation between the paddlers continued, my mind already started drifting towards sleep.  As we were leaving Hangasjärvi ridge, we saw a perfect halfmoon that shone brightly between the peaks of the Sallatunturi fells. 

Translated by Karolina Salin

Read more about things to do in Salla:

Visit Salla – in the middle of nowhere

In commercial partnership with Visit Raseborg

I had been eagerly looking forward to my paddling trip in Billnäs cultural landscape. The morning arrived very cold, and my car windows were covered by frost. Luckily, the weather forecast promised us a beautiful day with sunny intervals. I started my drive towards the Billnäs ironworks where I was going to meet my guide Gustaf Ahlroos, more familiarly known as Gutte. Gutte organizes, e.g., paddling and biking trips around the Billnäs area.

Mustio starting point on the map

Billnäs finishing point on the map

The length of the paddling route is about 20 km.

There are no rapids on this stretch of the Mustio river making the route a perfect fit for touring kayaks and inexperienced paddlers not familiar with rapids.

Usually the paddling trips start from Mustio, but we decided to leave my car at the finishing point of the route in Billnäs and head to the starting point by Gutte’s car. I took a scenic route to Billnäs, but still arrived there a bit early. So I had a little time on my hands, and I wandered around the Billnäs Ironworks and got to know its history. At the same time, I was curious about getting to the river already. Unfortunately, the fall colors had already faded, and stormy winds had left the trees bare.

But the river looked inviting. There is something so charming in fall season. The skies are gray, the weather is foggy, the air is filled with earthy smells – it’s always so beguiling. Seasons bring changes to river environment as does the river flow. As we were able to witness, heavy rainfalls result in increased river flow and higher water level. The fast flowing river may also speed up your paddling.

We set out to paddle on kayaks that Gutte had rented in Mustio. If you are not in a hurry, go check out the magnificent Mustio manor. The manor is situated only a few hundred meters from the starting point. But we had to get going, because the sun sets quite early in the fall. The paddling route to Billnäs is more or less 20 kilometers, so it’s a decent muscle workout at the same time. I have paddled quite a lot, but I’m not really used to kayaks, so this trip was also a learning experience for me.

Gustaf ”Gutte” Ahlroos

Gutte is a nature-loving guy and a versatile entrepreneur who works in the Billnäs area. Gutte’s company Lyfte hires out kayaks and mountain bikes and organizes guided tours like this paddling trip on Mustio river. It is also possible to experience a combined biking and paddling tour.

Gutte is also a Certified Mental Trainer as well as a Personal Trainer. He is also currently studying to be a hiking guide.

Read more about paddling and biking in Billnäs on Gutte’s Facebook pages.

This paddling route is perfect, if you have never done any kayaking and want to practice it safely with an experienced guide. The first three kilometers are pretty easy. The river flow is relatively slow, and the stretch is largely sheltered from the wind. During the first three kilometers, you will have time to get used to kayaking and practice different paddling techniques.

Just as I started to get the hang of some basic techniques, we passed by the small Junkarsborg island with ancient castle ruins. The castle dates back to the 12th century, the late Iron Age, and has presumably also been inhabited by Vikings. Tradition has it that the castle was first called Raseborg, and that name was later on passed to The Raseborg Castle in Snappertuna. My family is related to the former Lord of The Raseborg Castle, and that is why it was quite special for me to be paddling in the area connected to my family’s heritage.

There is a strong current near Junkarsborg, and there are also quite a few big rocks. So pay attention at this point!

After Junkersborg, we paddled over Lake Päsarträsket, after which the river meandered through the fields for several kilometers. Gutte told me that in the summertime herding cows come to the river bank to stare at the paddlers passing by, and it is not unheard of that a curious gray heron starts to follow a group of paddlers. The river banks offered us a shelter from the wind, so it was easy to paddle for a while, but as we approached the Kyrksjön lake, a brisk wind started to blow.

Gutte told us that this part of the route is often very windy, and that there may be big waves, even though the lake is shallow.

There are many suitable places to stop for a picnic along the route, but we decided to enjoy our packed lunch before starting to cross the lake. Gutte also kindly made us a cup of coffee, but just as we started to eat, it began to rain. The weather forecast proved not be accurate, but that’s just typical… Fortunately, we had these waterproof drysuits on, so the rain didn’t really bother us. When getting ready for a paddling trip, you should always pack a rainproof jacket with you, even when there is no rain in the forecasts.

Next we paddled over the lake and arrived at the city center of Karjaa. After a short stretch of urban paddling, the rain really picked up and it started to get dark as well. But we were right on schedule and our route was coming to an end – we made it to Billnäs just before dark.

At dusk the Billnäs Ironworks looked just absolutely beautiful. The quacking ducks welcomed us back to the same bridge where I had been admiring the scenery before the start of our little paddling trip. Luckily we were dressed appropriately for the weather and didn’t get cold. On the contrary, I was a little hot when we paddled upwind. We also took several short breaks.

I have been paddling my packraft in many places from wilderness to urban environments. I was pleasantly surprised by this route, as it was truly atmospheric with rich cultural landscape. It was nice to paddle in a kayak on a river like this at a moderately brisk pace. We were a little late, but I can only imagine the landscape with fall foliage in all its glory. We decided to come back with my wife and next time take the combined biking and paddling tour and top off the day by eating in the Billnäs restaurant.

Read also:

An impressive cycling route in Raseborg: Presenting the 46-kilometre long Front Line Route

One of the most beautiful hiking areas in Raseborg hides among the reed beds and hazel groves – hiking on the trails of lake Lepinjärvi at dawn

The Antskog Ironworks in Raasepori – a historical idyll by the river

Culture & cardio – experience the Embankment route from the capital region to Fiskars on a train and bike

In cooperation with Cursor

Article by Mari Valtonen

The Salpa Line bike route is located in southeastern Finland, in the province of Kymenlaakso, near the Russian border and close to the Finnish section of the Europe-wide EuroVelo13 or Iron Curtain Trail. The Iron Curtain Trail (9950 km in total) introduces European history from a time when the continent was forcefully divided into east and west, and the general atmosphere was tense. In Finland, which miraculously defended against the Russia goliath while maintaining its independence, you should definitely take a small detour to experience the 72 km long Salpa Line bike route.

Distance: 72 km
Duration: 2 days
Destination on map
Difficulty: Easy route

The Salpa Line is a fortress line built in defense of Finland’s eastern border, the structures of which are still clearly visible in Finnish forests. The Salpa Line is even one of the best preserved fortress lines in the whole of Europe built during the Second World War, reaching all the way to Lapland from the southern coast of Finland, and many of the most spectacular and powerful structures are located in Kymenlaakso. The Salpa Line reaches an impressive total length of 1,200 kilometers and was built between 1940 and 1941, and 1944.

Kymenlaakso has two Salpa Line themed museums – one in Miehikkälä, and the other in Virolahti. Both are located along the EuroVelo13 and the Salpa Line bike routes. These museums shed light on the background of this impressive structure and are definitely worth a visit. EuroVelo13 travelers can easily start the Salpa Line bike route from either location.

However, the route is not only suitable for those interested in military history. You can also enjoy a lot of beautiful and extensive Finnish nature with its beautiful forests and idyllic farming landscapes. I set out to find out what the Salpa Line bike route has to offer. Join me!

The warm fall weather and the fine fall colors ensured that the cycling season in southern Finland continued into October. The Salpa Line bike route was a great choice for enjoying the northeastern European fall weather for a couple of days’ bike ride.

You can start your trip from anywhere on the route, but you can easily park your car in the parking areas of the Miehikkälä Salpa Line Museum or the Bunker Museum in Virolahti (the distance between these sites is about 20 km). On the last day of September, I started from the Bunker Museum. The museum is only open on Fri–Sat in the fall, so I started my journey straight away since the museum was closed.

The Salpa Linja bike route is not marked on the terrain, but I had uploaded Cursor’s map to my Google Drive, where I could easily track my journey with the phone’s GPS data. The route travels partly along a hiking route called Salpa Trail, but those sections were often marked as mountain bike sections, so I most often chose the dirt road route. A third asphalt option was also indicated on some points.

Here we go!

After driving west on Vaalimaantie for a while, the route turned southeast onto Vahtivuorentie. The dirt road was in good condition, although bumpy. First there were warnings about horses on the road and then about snowmobiles, but I didn’t see anyone. After some recently planted forest, the road dived into a coniferous forest. According to the map, the first dugouts – troop-protecting structures used in the war – should be located near the Vahtivuori campfire site, where I parked my bike on the side of the road and continued walking up the path.

There were insanely big blueberries everywhere! In Finland, you can pick natural berries, thanks to the so called everyman’s rights, so I tasted the northern superfood with a smile on my face. However, the berries were already quite tasteless at this time of year, so I didn’t regret leaving my bucket at home.
Next, my attention was drawn to some really large boulders. Could they be man-made parts of the Salpa Line, or natural obstacles, I wondered. I found the cooking shelter on top of the hill, but the trees prevented a wider view of the surrounding landscape. I decided to use my Trangia to make coffee with apple pie before I went looking for the dugouts.

After studying the map, I realized that I should have been right next to the dugouts, but I didn’t see anything. Military history isn’t exactly my area of expertise. I wonder what I was supposed to be looking for. I had read beforehand that most of the dugouts are not maintained, with potentially dangerous drops and sharp iron structures so it was a bit terrifying trying to find them alone. I’ve never been to the army, so even in that sense, I had no idea how the dugouts could’ve been built into the terrain. I understood that the map made it difficult to determine the exact location of the dugouts and probably the GPS signal on the phone displayed my location incorrectly. I was beginning to wonder whether I would find any bunkers on the whole trip.

Amazing boulders! Or tank barriers after all?

I had read that there should be a cave and a nature stage near the fire site. I went down the path and followed some signs. I noticed that there were better signs on the opposite side, and discovered the first winding trenches and the opening of the first bunker No 82. After continuing ahead, I came across another much cozier lean-to called Rinnelaavu, and found the rock cliff I was looking for, with its railings. Next to the railing there was a path down and a view opened up to the nature stage: What a great venue with stands can be found below the cliff! The barrier rocks have been mined from the cliff, and this can be seen in its the vertical shape. The place is so impressive that it would be great to watch a show there sometime!

The nature stage looks rugged!

There was a concrete doorway next to the stage, and after a while, and after I got my headlamp working, I had the courage to enter through the door. Inside I discovered a large cave carved into the rock and there appeared to be a smaller room at the back. Water fell from the ceiling. The bunker seemed so strong that I dared to continue through the second door. There was an embrasure on the right side of the second door, and on the left you could see the small room that I had noticed earlier. There were no furniture. After leaving the cave, the air felt warm and I felt relieved – I made it! I realized that it takes a lot of courage to enter such structures on my own. I decided that this would be enough for now, and that the structures that I would explore next would be at the Harju Learning Center.

The road lead to an idyllic field opening and a row of tank barriers erected on the Ravijoki river banks. Later, the barrier line continued along my route in many places and I can only imagine how much work it has taken to build it with the tools of that time! At this point, the tank barriers were inside the pasture, and after a while a resting flock of sheep appeared.

Tank barriers as sheep pasture

Next, I climbed to the courtyard of the Harju Learning Center, where I saw many beautiful old buildings. The students had just finished their school day. The summer café Kiessi seems to operate there but it was already unfortunately closed for the year. The Kiessi Museum was on the opposite side and the door was open. Inside I found a collection of horse-drawn vehicles and some information about the history of the Harju manor.

The Harju milieu

From the Harju courtyard, the journey continued along a birch alley until we turned left onto Museotie. A great view opened up to the Harju manor. The route continued along the side of the road and alternated between idyllic well-maintained countryside and different types of forests. Huge boulders could be seen here and there. Grasshoppers were still chirping along the road, and there were still flowers such as bluebells, tansies, thistles and sow thistles. Summer was in the air!

The old kilometer markers guided me towards Virojoki, where I had planned to have a little lunch break.

After the village center, my journey continued on a bike road next to Vaalimaantie for a short while before the last bit of road turning to Miehikkälä. A couple of sphere-shaped dugouts were marked on the route map along Mattilantie, which I decided to visit. I found the dugouts relatively easily when I followed the path in the forest. But I didn’t enter because they seemed to be in bad condition. Also, there were some homes nearby so you had to be careful not to walk into anyone’s yard.

Soon I spotted a sphere-shaped dugout right by the side of the road on the left side! The camouflage of the dugout – the moss that covered it – was destroyed, so the round dome was clearly visible. Unfortunately, the location by the side of the road meant that the dugout was full of trash bags and I didn’t bother to go inside. According to the Finnish trekking etiquette, you should always take your trash to the nearest trash can and take them with you if there are no trash cans on site. Nothing should be left behind.

Balded sphere-shaped dugout

Based on the map, the next attraction was the Kotolankoski rapids of Vaalimaanjoki, which was a very pretty place. It would have been a much better place for a break than the place I had chosen. After the rapids, the road turned into a dirt road and passed through the village of Kotola. Kotolankoski is worth a break!

The evening was getting darker, and I had to maintain a decent speed so that I could get to my accommodation near the center of Miehikkälä. Indeed, around September and October, you have to consider the fact that it starts to get dark around 7 p.m. Finally, I spotted the village of Miehikkälä!

Vaalimaanjoki river

According to the instructions, the accommodation was next to the church. In the tenant’s yard, the village blacksmith’s cabin was a separate two-person accommodation building with a kitchenette, toilet and shower. Perfect accommodation for such a one-night bike ride.

It is also possible to plan the route so that you stay in a tent at one of the lean-to or campfire sites along the route. These are located in the western part of the route, so in that case you should start from the Salpa Line Museum in Miehikkälä. I had originally thought about bringing a tent, but I couldn’t fit the gear on the bike so I decided to book accommodation. Based on the route map, there seem to be accommodation options in several places, so there is room for choice.

The dahlias were in bloom outside, on October 1st!

After breakfast, I started towards the Salpa Line Museum, which was only three kilometers from the center of Miehikkälä. I decided to take a shortcut along Taavetintie and skip going round Myllylampi, marked on the route map. The trip started uphill and I felt the 40 km cycling from the previous day.
After climbing into the museum courtyard, I marveled at the silence and indeed: it was October 1st and the museum was no longer open during weekdays! This was my own mistake, since I hadn’t considered it would be October. From the window I could see that staff were there and after knocking on the door they were kind enough to give me a map of the outdoor areas and permission to tour places that were not locked.

I had thought that I could safely visit the museum’s refurbished dugouts, but this seems like the perfect excuse to revisit southeast Finland some other time.

That’s how impressed I am with the Salpa Line fortifications. In sunny weather, I toured the trenches, visited the aerial surveillance tower, and marveled at the tank barriers and cannons. I was thinking how all of it would have worked if the enemy had approached Taavetintie. Could they have stopped it? The tour took so much time that I decided to use my Trangia to cook lunch at the museum’s campfire site.

From the museum, the route turned to Rakolantie and an exceptionally enjoyable part of the journey started! The road was a smooth dirt road and it meandered in stunning pine forest, among sturdy and gloomy spruce trees, and occasionally through idyllic field areas. When cycling, you felt like you were following a trail of historical events. I wonder if the people who built the Salpa Line are still alive. Have they felt proud to build such large fortifications? The concrete dugouts are in relatively good condition, as the Finnish Defense Forces partially maintained them until the 1980s.

No worries when cycling through boreal forests!

On this stretch, many parts of the route merged with the Salpa Trail. I had read in the guide that there was something worth seeing in Jermula, and I decided to visit, even based on the name alone, to see what I would find in the direction of the sign.

There was a sign to the dugouts on the way there, but I kept going all the way to the back where I found a parking area. A road continued to the right, and there I first found a tipi-like hut, then a Jermula cottage used by war veterans, and a lean-to. There were concrete figures at the campsite: a couple and a dog, but I didn’t see anyone else. There was also a well in the yard and a long jetty at the beach. I was startled when a heron took off just a few meters from the beach!

When I came back, I went to the parking area to find dugout 310/443. I just took a sneak peek, because once again I was terrified to go in alone. There was even an information board near the door. As I cycled back to the route, I noticed an embrasure disguised with rocks on the slope and climbed to see it. I was beginning to know how to look for the fortifications in the terrain!

The fall colors were beautiful and bright, as the sun shined in summerlike fashion. The grain fields were all already harvested – fortunately, because winter is approaching. After turning to Vuolteentie, the route crossed another beautiful little river, the Turanjoki.

From the Salpa Line Museum onwards, the cycling route sometimes merges with the Salpa Trail for long distances. There were also beautiful, short forest parts on Vuolteentie, and there were even dugouts right next to the road. The shore of Pyyhinlampi would’ve been a great spot for a break, but after studying the terrain map, I found that going there would have meant uphills both ways, so I decided to postpone the coffee break. Today’s part had more hills anyway, and I was feeling it in my legs.

After this, there would have been a short mountain bike trail to the left, which traveled along the unfinished cave of Soikonvuori, and I had read it was beautiful. I decided that I might not dare go into the cave alone, and I decided to skip it on this trip. After the forest section, the route passed through the idyllic village of Mässelinmäki.

The barn is camouflaged too!

Shortly before the highway underpass, there was a concrete dugout 153 on the edge of the forest opening, which looked so firm that I ventured to go inside. The embrasure pointed directly at the highway. I thought that during the war there had been few roads in the area where the enemy could have progressed inland, and all of them had spots where they could be cut off if necessary. Now there’s a huge highway to Russia! But that is how it should be: neighboring countries peacefully trade with each other and live their own lives.

The embrasure in this dugout points right in the direction of the highway

According to the map, there was supposed to be a lean-to right after the highway underpass, where I decided to take the last coffee break. I read on the information boards that a bunker had been blown up to make space for the highway. The Salpalaavu lean-to turned out to be a brand new lean-to placed right next to the concrete bunker! The sun was already setting behind the woods when I made the coffee and ate the last piece of apple pie.

There seemed to be a large parking area nearby and signs to the Bunker Museum, which was only 2.5 km away. The last part of the route was brand new asphalt road, which must have been built when the highway was completed. There would also have been a mountain bike section going alongside the Salpa Trail, which would probably have been nicer, but on my bike and load it wouldn’t have been a good idea.

The Salpalaavu lean-to is located right next to the dugout

The two days passed pleasantly when admiring the landscapes of southeastern Finland painted bright by the fall colors, and exploring the Salpa Line. The Salpa Line bike route can be recommended for tour cyclists, and you don’t have to be a military history enthusiast to go on the route. The route requires a bit of an adventure attitude, as it is not marked on the terrain and you need to read a map. Only a small part of the Salpa Line fortifications are marked and it might take some time to find them. Safety issues should also be taken into account. Most of the dugouts have not been refurbished, so they are accessed at your own risk.

Bring a good headlight (and spare lamp) with you. I highly recommend going with a friend, as going alone increases risks, and it took a lot of courage to explore the dugouts on my own, at least for me. Of course, during the summer or on weekends there are certainly more travelers in the area than during the off-season and on workdays. If you enjoy your own peace, then I recommend going on workdays.

In addition, it is advisable to check the opening hours of the museums in advance, as they definitely provide added value and information for the trip. For me, at least, the closed museums bothered me so much that I have to visit the area again in the future!

Read more:

EuroVelo 13 – Iron Curtain Trail, Visit Kotka–Hamina

Salpa Line Museum

The Salpa Line Trail

The article has been created for the Bizcycle project / Southeast Finland-Russia CBC program. The program is funded by the European Union, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Finland.

View from Iivaara fell

Hiking up north in Finland if always fun – but it’s even better than usual during the fall. Great brisk weather, no mosquitoes, safe environment – you can lose yourself for hours on end… in a good way. Join me this time as we hike up Iivaara fell, and enjoy the best hiking weather of the year in picturesque Koillismaa – North-East Finland.

Iivaara peak on the map (Sijainti: N=7300404.330, E=622387.834 (ETRS-TM35FIN))
Follow me on Instagram
More hiking videos: Youtube / Take a hike with Mika Viitanen
More hiking in Finnish language: Youtube / Taarna
Parking spot directions: Google Maps
More information on the location: nationalparks.fi/iivaara

In cooperation with Nuuksioon.fi

Autumn is unquestionably one of the best seasons for a visit in the woods and even a short break to the colourful forest soothes one’s soul. They say the closest forest (and national park) is the best forest as well as the most sustainable choice, but in my case there’s some hindrance with Nuuksio National Park. Currently the route selection seems a bit restricted and I’d rather favour treks requiring no car, so that I could leave from A and ramble to B.

Having all this in mind we tried out this new Nuuksioon.fi-service, which apparently would give recommendations for potential routes, services and transportation options in Nuuksio National Park. Time consuming and bouncing browsing on different websites is history, as now all necessary information can be found in one place!

The service asks first what type of visit I’m planning. Good for me I can choose multiple choices: quick visit, reviving visit and trekking. Other options were ’with kids’, ’running in the nature’ and ’biking’. Presumably the service calculates optimal possibilities from its data according to my answers. And the possibilities are wide!

More than 20 routes are introduced and categorized on easy-intermediate-demanding -scale. There are maps for every route, I’m given an estimation for the duration and furthermore there’s arrival information with public transportation. Woah! As we are not looking for a circular trail, we choose to go with the option of starting from Kattila and ending in Nature Center Haltia. Distance is approximately 7 kilometers, which we consider to be just perfect for a half-day trek. Summing up all the things we need and want to do, the transportation, hiking, breaks, lunch and Nature Center Haltia, this is a good plan for the day. There’s all the info we need, so after packing bags we’re ready to hit the road and trail!

September in Nuuksio is glorious. On a Thursday morning there are just two other passengers with us going all the way to the final stop at Kattila. The morning light is alluring and calling us to the trails. As we walk, we thank ourselves and the route suggestions so that we decided to walk towards south.

We see the sun rising in front of us behind the forest, I see the shimmering light in dew drops and adore the mist growing out of lush moss. Today there seems to be a tiny hint more of magic in these woods.

The trail from Kattila to Haukkalampi is versatile and gives a lot of different landscapes for a wanderer. We just can’t pass the newborn chanterelles to the path, and so we become mushroom pickers too. During the day we spot yellow-foot mushrooms here and there and of course we have the urge to pick them too. “The Earth is our Mother, she gives and she takes.” Today she definitely gives.

There’s more than just forest floor to see; we notice rock walls, duckboards, swamp, ponds, and even take a little detour in order to visit the cave by Vähä-Haukkalampi, a place I’ve never been before but have heard stories of. So much to see and marvel on such a short trail!

At Haukkalampi there’s Cafe Silva, where we decide to have a break. Obviously we didn’t just accidentally find it, but it was introduced with opening hours by the online service, so we knew in advance that there would be no need for thermos coffee this time. Morning has turned closer to noon, and some cars have found their way to the parking lot. I’m rather happy we decided to take the bus instead.

Haukkalampi-pond is like a mirror and even the sun is shining the low temperatures require a warmer jacket for the break. There are some rental canoes and sup-boards on the shore and it would be very tempting to gracefully float on the surface. Next time, perhaps.

We are well over half way to Haltia and lunch buffet. It’s surprisingly fun and perhaps a little luxurious to hike with very light equipment, as we decided to use the catering services instead of carrying our own snacks.

After we’ve left Haukkalampi behind other occasional hikers can be seen on the route. On this part of the route there are a few tough and steep hills. Luckily a couple of stairways have been built to make the walk more convenient. At the north end of lake Pitkäjärvi we stop to admire the smooth, glimmering surface again.

Rumbling hunger sets the pace for the rest of the journey and finally seeing Haltia below us feels plainly great. The lunch buffet is plentiful and we take our time relaxing and cooling off on the balcony.

After lunch we still have time to get acquainted with the current exhibitions at Haltia and we spend some more time exploring other possibilities for a visit in the future. Fatbike rentals would be awesome for the next time, and we immediately check the possible 15 km trail from Haltia to Northern Nuuksio. There’s also chance to accommodate in a Tentsile-skytent right next to Haltia in the summer time! Perhaps next time we take a new angle to Nuuksio either from air or from the saddle of a bike.

Photos: Antti Huttunen

As the nights get darker, northern lights can appear again. One night I was waiting for them with my friend. According to the forecast there should have been an amazing light show coming up due to a G2 geomagnetic storm. The auroras should be so bright that they could be seen even in Helsinki, and we were in Lapland! However, the sky was getting cloudy…

Internet and social media are full of beautiful photos of northern lights. However, photographing or even seeing them is not always a peace of cake. Clouds are the biggest problem. Great job if you’re in Lapland and it’s winter – your chances are really good. That’s why I was very optimistic that night.

We made a campfire on our yard and started waiting. The radio was on and we made some tea. But the clouds were coming and I started to wonder if we’re going to see anything at all.

Around 10 pm I took the first photos of the sky. I didn’t see any northern lights yet, but if there’s any light in the sky, the camera can see it even when the naked eye can’t.

And there certainly was something going on.

This was a good time to check that the camera settings were ok for some serious aurora shooting. Maximum ISO and F value, shutter speed about 5 seconds… and focus to infinity. Let’s try with that.

As I was adjusting the camera settings, the sky exploded – but only for a few minutes.

To the naked eye it did not look this green. As I said, cameras can see more than we can. That’s why photographing the auroras is so much fun, it feels like magic!

Before I knew it, the show was over. Reality check: it was way too cloudy.

This is how it can go sometimes – the nature decides whether we can see auroras or not. But nevermind, we had had a great evening anyways!

Autumn is about to begin in Lapland – there’s already some beautiful autumn foliage to be seen. But autumn colors are not the only sign of the summer being over. Autumn in Lapland smells like fresh rain in the forest, tastes like berries and sounds like singing swans. You can also see the beautiful starry sky of Lapland for the first time in months. Here are nine signs of nature that tell you autumn is here!

Misty mornings

Autumn is the time of beautiful, cold and misty mornings. You want to get up early so that you won’t miss them!

Nights get darker

This feels very special especially because in Lapland the sun hasn’t set for months. So when it finally does set and the evenings get dark, it feels truly amazing. You can see the stars for the first time after spring, and even some auroras can soon appear!

Autumn foliage

The first ones to begin turning red are bilberries. Make sure that you have a camera with you when you go outside – this is something truly amazing.

Berries get ripe

Bilberries first, then lingonberries and soon also cranberries – they are waiting for you and they are delicious! Thanks to the everyman’s right, anyone is allowed to pick berries in Finland. Just make sure you treat nature with respect and leave nothing behind! Do not litter!

Fresh smell of rain

Who wouldn’t love the smell of a refreshing rain in beautiful nature. In autumn, this smell is at its best. Each forest or swamp has a wonderful smell of its own.

Time for some mushroom picking

Like berries, you can also pick mushrooms. If you’re lucky, you’ll find delicious porcinis or chanterelles!

Chanterelles

Swans get ready to leave

The whooper swan is the national bird of Finland. But they can not stay here for the winter. In autumn you can hear them singing in the wilderness, as they get ready to leave.

Thunder storms appear

Especially in August it’s possible to see and hear some amazing thunder storms and rainbows in Lapland.

Reindeer get handsome again

This might come as a shock, but reindeer get really ugly in the summer when they moult. In August they start to look very handsome again, and the males also have huge beautiful antlers.

P.s. We advice you not to approach male reindeer especially in September, as they can get aggressive during this period of reindeer’s rut.

In partnership with Visit Raseborg

➡️ 5,5 km, loop
? Shelter
Starting point on the map
ℹ Read more

The Enchanted Forest Trail (Peikkometsän kierros) is a picturesque and diverse trail in Västerby recreational area in Raasepori, which is about an hour and a half’s drive from Helsinki. Its 5.5 kilometre length is perfect for a family with children on a day trip – leaving time for games, breaks and even hunting for mushrooms. The trip can be made at any time of year. The forest is full of light, with scenery which is probably still beautiful even in the darker times of year.

Västerby recreational area was a new location for us. According to the map, there was an interesting route of just the right length: The Enchanted Forest Trail, which takes you up onto the rocks and the edge of a pond. There was also also a lean-to shelter, the perfect spot for a break.

We drove through Western Uusimaa from Helsinki to Tammisaari admiring the wonderful scenery on the way. We found the parking place for the recreational area and starting point for the Enchanted Forest Trail easily with the help of a map.

There was plenty of space at the parking place. In addition to the information board, we found some convenient climbing trees.

The trail started with a section on the rocks, where moss had created lovely green columns.

The trail was wide and easy for even smaller people to use, but still nice and diverse. The Enchanted Forest Trail is marked on certain trees with yellow paint, and there are duckboards going over wet areas. We felt a little overdressed in our warm clothing, as it felt like summer.

On the way we made some interesting discoveries. Someone (or something) had dug into a wasps ground nest and spread pieces of honeycomb on the moss, on the shores of Vitsjön pond. It was also here that we found our first porcini mushroom.

We were well prepared with plenty of things to eat. Our plan was, that at the shelter, we would make a warm lunch. But the table and benches on the shores of Vitsjön were calling us to take our first snack break there.

The path went through beautiful swamp areas and through the forest to the lakeside rocks of Grabbskog Stortäsket. The view from the top of the rocks was stunning, where you could see the lake narrowing into a canyon.

By the higher path we found a real fungal surprise. The warm weather had brought about twenty porcini mushrooms to the surface, none of which had any worms. Our mushroom basket was full in moments.

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While looking for more porcini mushrooms (boletes) we spotted a huge cauliflower mushroom Sparassis crispa on the slope. Even though it’s a delicious edible mushroom, it’s also rare, so we left if there, as advised by the mushroom book.

Traversing along the trail we came across a few trekkers, but there were certainly no crowds on the Enchanted Forest Trail. When we arrived at the shelter, the fire was already going and a few others were also taking a rest. For our lunch we had brought a mushroom risotto to make with our camping stove, which fit well with the trip’s unexpected theme. For dessert we made croissants on the fire by wrapping the dough around a stick.

On the Enchanted Forest trail, as well as wonderful views, you may spot some stone trolls. This was particularly fun for the kids. The Geocacher in our family also made some of their own discoveries.

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The trail is a loop and returns to the shores of Vitsjön pond. Once there, we decided to go back and check the jetty built on the rock. This would be a great place to return in the summer when the water is warm. An unexpected find that brought a great deal of joy to the kids was on the tree next to the jetty. A rope was attached to it making possible a swinging game that was enough to fill mothers with dread, but thankfully we survived without getting wet.

The Enchanted Forest Trail can easily be combined with other Raasepori sights. We didn’t get to see the castle ruins, but on the way home we went to admire Tammisaari’s old centre, wooden houses and seaside park.

Here are a few more views from the route:

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Translation: Becky Hastings

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