If you are following our blog, you may have noticed that we rarely stray from the city. Although we often wander around aimlessly for several kilometres marvelling at classical architecture or dazzling skyscrapers, the idea of leaving the familiar for a nature hike always seemed a bit taunting. But this week we decided to finally take the plunge and throw ourselves into the Finnish wilderness. If you are a little bit like us, dwelling in the city but appreciating the beauty of nature, this guide will help you plan a one day hike through Kurjenrahka National Park.
This national park was established in 1998 and covers about 29 km2. The landscape is mostly dominated by bogs, a type of wetland, but also features a few patches of primeval forests, some of which have not been touched in 150 years. The Eurasian lynx, brown bears and grey wolves call the park their home, although you will most likely not come across any of them. However, Kurjenrahka is beloved by many bird watchers as several species of birds such as the Eurasian wryneck, the chiffchaff or the osprey call the park their home.
Kurjenrahka National Park lies just outside the city limits of Turku. We decided to access it on the Southern side, but most people enter at Kuhankuono. To reach here from Turku you’ll either need a car or you’ll need to take a long distance bus which stops at “Kuhankuono“. However, tickets are 10€ one way, which is why we decided to enter in the southern part of the park. To reach here you can take the Turku city busses number 21 or 23 towards Tortinmäki. You get off at the last stop and walk back a few metres until you see a road sign directing you to Järvijoki. Follow this street for about 3km until it ends. You then continue onwards on a semi-paved street. This is already part of the hiking trail although it is unmarked. Follow the signs towards Töykkälä – from here onwards you will be following the yellow trail.
After about 3 km along the trail you’ll come across the viewing tower Koivusaari. Climb up and take in the alien landscape in front of you.
From there continue onwards until you reach Kurenpesä Nature Hut, another 4 km. Here you can take a rest and/or use the toilet if you like before you continue on your hike around the lake. Follow the red trail until Piharinta, a good place to stop for a snack, and then complete your round. The whole trail around the lake is about 6 km long. If you have time you can stray off the main trail and explore a 1.7 km long nature trail which forks off around Rantapiha and will also lead you back there.
We omitted the nature trail this time and after a short break headed back the same way we came. Actually, the yellow trail was officially closed due to the rather dire condition of many of the duckboards, but we still found the route relatively easy to navigate. An added bonus was that on the closed trail we rarely encountered any fellow hikers and had the place mostly to ourselves. Also, we came along large fields of blueberries which had hardly been touched. A forager’s paradise! However, we will say that you should stay away from closed trails in wet conditions as it would be really unsafe in the marshy areas. In any case though, bring waterproof shoes.
All in all we hiked about 30 km that day. It was a little challenging, but definitely doable in the amount of time we had. If you come in the summer when there is more daylight, you can take more and longer breaks without having to fear that the sun will set on you, but for our needs 8 hours were enough. If you are not very experienced in hiking (just like us) and are maybe a little bit concerned you may get lost, do not worry. The trails are very clearly marked every 10 meters so it is nearly impossible to not stay on the trail.
For your convenience we have also adapted the official map which can be found on the Finnish Nationalparks’ website to highlight the path we took that day, starting and ending at Tortinmäki bus stop.
We hope that this post will give you a taste for hiking in Finland. There are currently 39 National Parks, the most popular of which lie in Northern Finland, Lapland. The first parks were established in 1938 and Finland therefore has a long history of protecting its natural resources. We ask that when you visit any of the national parks you follow the rules especially in regards to waste disposal. This way everyone can continue to enjoy Finland’s Every man’s right by which you are allowed to hike, forage, fish or camp in the country’s forests.
Now, what do you think? Is there anything we have missed? Have you hiked through Kurjenrahka before? Which is your favourite National Park? Share your thoughts and pictures with us. Let’s stay in touch!