Autumn is here, and it is time to pack a backpack and head into the woods, which many locals do since it is "ruska" - the most beautiful time to discover Finnish nature! "Ruska" is a Finnish term to describe the beautiful autumn colors of the leaves, the fall foliage. Now, if you are in the Finnish capital, the best place to see "ruska" and enjoy a hike is the Nuuksio National Park.
To enjoy the feast of autumn colors - head to Espoo, the nearest city to Helsinki, and a part of the Finnish Capital Region. There you will find a well known national park named Nuuksio. If you are going by car, the journey will take you just half an hour. If you are using public transport, it is a bit longer but still easy to do, even as a half-day trip. First, you need to take a train to Espoo station and then change for a bus 245A, which will take you to the woods. If you are visiting for the first time, two places will probably be interesting for you. In case hiking is your goal, you should go to Haukkalampi, which is a lake with many hiking trails around it. There is a parking place right next to the lake. If you are coming by bus, it stops at "Haukkalammentie", which is around 2 km from the lake. I like to arrive by bus and find it rewarding that my hike starts earlier, especially considering the peaceful views on the way to the lake. You are going to walk through forests and fields, and admire horses on your way.
Haukkalampi is a good place for a break, you can find some picnic tables by the lake, a cafe, toilets, and even a house with a sauna for rent. Haukkalampi is also a good starting point for most of the hikes in the forest. You can take the Blue Trail for an easy hike around the lake, the Yellow one for a longer hike taking you by many lakes and up the forest cliffs and rewarding a hiker with nice Lappish views. The most challenging hike is considered to be the Red one which turns into the Brown Trail. This is a connecting route for two hiking trails that takes you to Haltia - the Finnish Nature Centre, which is the second place of interest for a first-time visitor. The hike gets more challenging if you are walking from Haltia to Haukkalampi. There are many stairs on the way, and this way you will mostly walk them up. On the way to Haltia, the route is not hard and takes just around 4 km.
A Nature Centre Haltia is a modern building on the hill that has an info point with all the maps of the area, some small necessary everyday items to buy in case you are hiking for days, a restaurant, and a museum. There is a bus stop right next to the Haltia Centre and a parking spot. One more hiking trail starts right opposite the Haltia Nature Centre and leads to a viewing terrace over the lake. This trail is accessible in a wheelchair and is an easy walkable wide road. The path is called Maahisenkierros, and no matter the easy road, the view, in the end, is very beautiful.
Apart from hiking trails, Haltia Nature Centre is an interesting place for a visit. Its museum is an engaging place for kids because they can crawl into different animals caves, find a sleeping bear, and discover the tunnels under the earth. You can even enjoy the improvised aurora borealis through a large screen and get into a wooden igloo. The restaurant is a good place to relax after a good hike. It serves lunches and a menu, also coffee and some snacks, but the best thing there is a spacious terrace overlooking the forest and the lake. That view is worth a bite! Haltia also arranges different activities for kids, so check the schedule inside the center. There are tables with benches outside of the center for eating and a thing we call "kota", which looks like a triangle tent. Inside kota, you can stay warm and grill some sausages.
If you would like to spend a few days in Nuuksio with comfort, there is a hotel at your service. The Hotel Nuuksio is situated near the lake. There are hiking trails to lead you deeper into the forest next to the hotel. The hotel is ranked 3 stars, but I found it to be more comfortable than that, considering a tasty breakfast, a swimming pool, a sauna, and a gym ready for use. Here, you can find "kota" for some warming up and grill. The local restaurant even provides a "kota-menu", the outside-food to try in the depth of nature.
The biggest part of Finland is actually a forest, and the amount of lakes is ridiculous. There are almost 190 000 of them in the country! That makes rocky cliffs, greeny forests, and countless lakes a traditional Finnish scenery that you should not miss. If you are visiting any city in southern Finland, the National Park Nuuksio is a great choice to enjoy a hike! Visit Haukkalampi Lake for many great hikes, Haltia Nature Centre for some rest and an interesting museum experience. And if a tent is not your way of enjoying nature, there is the Nuuksio Hotel to shelter you.
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