Sipoonkorpi National Park
Your trip to Finland is never complete without immersing yourself in the beautiful Finnish nature. As Nuuksio National Park is the most popular destination in Helsinki area, it does get very crowded with both tourists and locals, especially during the summer. Therefore, if you crave an exciting adventure to the Finnish woods and do not want to encounter too many people, Sipoonkorpi National Park is no doubt an ideal choice for your day trip from Helsinki.
Lakes, along with deep green forests, has a significant impact on the making of Finnish identity.
Personally, I love hiking here because despite its humble size, it offers a diversity of admirable landscapes: unspoilt dense woodlands, vast green fields, interesting mossy rocky hills and scattered serene villages.
In this post, I’m going to share with you my recent hiking experience in this beautiful park.
Getting to Sipoonkorpi from Helsinki via public transports
Located only 24km away from the Finnish capital, Sipoonkorpi is easy to reach by bus. Leaving from the city center, you have a few options to choose from, depending on where in the park you want to drop off. The journey takes only about an hour, making Sipoonkorpi an ideal day trip from Helsinki.
- Bus 731N or 738 or 739: If you go with one of these buses, you will get off at Kuusijärvi (Stop name: V9719 Lahdentie). Kuusijärvi is a popular recreational center comprising of a cafe, public smoke saunas and a sandy beach by a large beautiful lake.
- Bus 717A: This bus will take you quite close to Kalkkiruukki campsite and many trails of different lengths start from here. The stop is Kalkkiuunintie (V9809).
As I planned to do some serious exercise that day, I decided to take 717A to Kalkkiuunintie and start hiking from there.
Now, let the fun begin!
After jumping off from the bus at Kalkkiuunitie, I headed to the dirt road on the opposite side and swiftly started my hike on Kalkinpolttajanpolku trail. My first impression was that the trail wasn’t very well marked as I almost missed a turn without looking at Google map. 2 minutes later onto the trail, I realized that this was going to be challenging. This narrow trail is located on a rugged terrain which requires a lot of climbing up and down.
Halfway through the dense wooded trail, I reached Högberget, a mossy rocky hillscape with view back to “civilization” at the horizon. And even though this is supposed to be the most popular spot, I only bumped into a few day hikers. Towards the end of the trail, the steep terrain really had me put my muscles into good use. I have total respect and admiration for those cyclists who biked swiftly on the jagged path and even carried their bikes up and down the stairs.
I decided then to hike a longer route to Kalkkiruukki campsite as I wanted to check it out for future camping trip.
However, after checking out the site, I realized that it was nowhere near a water feature. It is really unusual in Finland not to have a lakeside camping area. As a result, I decided that Kalkkiruukki was not an ideal place for me to spend the night.
Since it is still too early to have lunch and I was still full of energy, I decided to hike to the little lake called Katronträsk North of Kalkkiruukki. This turned out to be a memorable and eye-opening experience. Even though both Google and paper maps mark a trail leading to this lake, it came as a surprise that there there were absolutely no real trails or markers, just a tangle of lines with footprints and bike tire marks.
I had to rely completely on the GPS signal on my phone (which thankfully worked fine) to navigate through this maze of “animal’s trails”. Not a soul did I meet, just the sound of birds chirping and leaves rustling (and occasionally my own exhausting exhaling). I was completely immersed into the powerful wilderness and it felt so thrilling. The hike took me through a myriad of interesting landscapes: dense rugged forests, fields of beautiful wild flowers, soft mossy ground with scattered pine woods. After I reached lake Katronträsk, I found a generally dry ground nearby to put up my hammock and enjoy a long lunch.
After a 30-min break, I wanted to hike back South to check out Bisajärvi. Again, both Google and paper map show another route almost parallel to the one I just hiked up with, I headed to that direction to the worst part of the journey! A minute right after I took the turn from the dirt road, I no longer see any trail (though Google map’s signal showed I was right on it), just a vast field with scattered young pines and birches.
The ground suddenly became so soft, mossy-cushioned and soaked with water. For a second I was scared that I entered some kind of swampy/marshy area! However, I tried to remained calm and continued to step carefully while double-checking the GPS signal that I was heading to the right direction. After a while later, the terrain wasn’t mossy cushioned anymore, just plain muddy and wet, and I got mud covered half calf height. I was glad at least I wore my waterproofed hiking shoes that day, so even my stretchy pants stained with mud, my feet were completely dry!
I couldn’t hike straight down South as Google map showed me as there were some God-knows-how-deep ponds which took me a lot of time to go around. I saw some footprints on the mud from time to time so at least I know there were hikers heading that way. An hour or so later, I finally set foot on firmer and drier ground though I still didn’t any proper trail. The exhaustion ad frustration I suffered on this no-trail made me decide to hike to Viirilä to catch a bus home, instead of heading to Bisajärvi as planned.
Now that I recollect the journey, I can’t help but chuckling at the unexpected experience and actually would be eager to go for a hike at Sipoonkorpi again.
Packing list for a summer/autumn hike
I learned some valuable lessons after this trip, so I would like to recommend checking off these items for your day trip:
- Good waterproofed hiking shoes and comfy clothing: Unless you swear to stay on the well marked trails, you need these to survive in case of stumbling upon a wet, muddy area like I did. Rubber boots are great too! Short-sleeved top and shorts are good during hot weather though you may be exposed to mosquitoes and harsh sunlight at some parts of the trails. I usually would bring along a compact windbreaker just in case. A hat and sunglasses could prove useful.
- Navigation tools: Sipoonkorpi has many unmarked trails, so I highly suggest having both paper and digital maps. You definitely need to use GPS, which thankfully works well in this area. Also, powerbank can be a life saver.
- Mosquito-repellent: My skin is super sensitive to bites (I’m talking ridiculously swollen, red and itching for days) so I always pack this with me unless it is early summer or late autumn.
- Lots of water: It is vital to keep yourself hydrated all the time. I didn’t come across any water refilling point unfortunately, so if you may consider bringing water purifying system.
- Lots of snacks: I live by this golden rule: Don’t embark on any trip without a trusty snack bag by your side. You burn a lot of energy when you hike, so it is important to keep your body fueled and energized.
- Hammock: This might not work for everyone, but I feel my legs and back recover much better after a break on a hammock.
- Small knife: It can come handy in many scenarios: sharpen a stick, slicing cheese, cutting up mushrooms, etc.
- Torch light or headlamp: Daylight is much shorter during the autumn, so torch light can be useful if you still wander in the forest when it gets dark.
And last but not least:
- Day backpack: You will have to put most of the above-listed into a backpack and it can become pretty heavy. To ensure your comfort, a good supporting backpack is essential. As an amateur hiker, I made my mistake wearing my Fjällräven Kånken during this trip. While I love how chic and timeless this rucksack is, it is terrible for your back and shoulder if you have to carry it full. So choose wisely guys!
Camping in Sipoonkorpi National Park
There are two campsites: Kalkkiruukki and Ängesböle where you can find lean-to-shelter, campfire site and dry toilet. Additionally, Kalkkiruukki campsite has old firewood sheds which are used as sleeping shelters. However, both of these places are not located by a water feature, so consider carefully before you make the journey. I personally wouldn’t go camping anywhere in Finland with being by the lake. If camping is a must-do in your itinerary, I highly recommend Nuuksio instead.
Sipoonkorpi National Park hike – An adventurous day trip from Helsinki
To walk in the nature is to witness a thousand miracles.
I truly enjoyed the beauty and power of nature in Sipoonkorpi National Park and I hope you would give it a try too! Meanwhile, stay tuned for our next post about awesome Finland!