Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Nyrölä nature trail in winter

Nyrölä is a small village about 20 kilometres northwest from Jyväskylä. It is best known for its Kallioplanetaario (Planetarium, open daily) but offers also a chance for a nice walk on the well-kept nature trail. On a winter's day  just the ride to Nyrölä is a joy: after leaving the town, the woods surrounding the roads are wearing their best winter robes. My only question is whether the Nyrölä nature trail is "open" in the winter as well. That is, have there been other walkers before me?
The whole circular trail is about 3 kilometres long but nobody seems to have walked the whole route recently; I can only see footprints in the direction of the Iso-Musta lake where the closest laavu shelter is. No problem! I've got snowshoes with me...
Whereas the snow may already have fallen on the ground in the city centre where it is somewhat warmer, there is plenty of the white stuff over here - and not just on the ground. I could easily make my walk shorter (and easier) by following the narrow road on which a snowmobile has made a track recently but when I see the snow-covered sign Luontopolku (nature trail) it is much more inviting. Snow, snow and more snow!
I enter the woods and start following the trail signs that mostly consist of yellow-topped wooden poles (originally haypoles) but there are also a couple of paint marks on the trees, probably made with reflective paint. Using that kind of paint is not a bad idea at all if you happen to be on the trail after dark.
If I wasn't wearing snowshoes my progress would be much slower! And if the trail wasn't so well marked it would be very easy not to know which way to go because you can't always tell which way the path, now totally covered with snow, is turning. The only other footprints I discover between these trees belong to small animals.
I can still remember what it looked like in here on my last visit to Nyrölä nature path; so different, so green. Behind these trees there is a small man-made pond which was dug in a place where there was a natural spring. A recent local newspaper article revealed that the name Nyrölä originates from the word nyry (nira) which means a small trail of water, according to the writer Ilmari Kosonen.
The trail leaves the forest and I am again surrounded by open space. I turn to look to my right. The snow and frost covered trees are simply stunning - like a graphic illustration, almost surreal in its beauty.
Locating the haypoles and a dash of yellow paint isn't always too easy... The nature sometimes plays tricks on you. I find a couple of them but then... Nothing. However, I know the trail is supposed to meet the narrow road right ahead and it takes only a minute or two to be back on track.
Somebody's been busy felling trees! There is a huge pile of firewood waiting to be collected by the side of the road. I continue walking uphill along the snowmobile trail and remember the gorgeous green moss below the fir trees on a certain October day more than a year ago.
I know most people enjoy the Finnish winter on skis but snowshoes are my favourite. Although the snowmobile has made walking here even easier, we go different ways from the top of the hill and I get to walk downhill on virgin snow, making my very own path. I just love it!
The dense spruce forest has an almost eerie atmosphere and again I feel I'm watching a graphic illustration.
Time for a break? This beautiful lean-to offers a chance to make a fire and sit under the shelter, no matter the weather. The last time I was here it was almost ready for use but not quite. This would be a great place for star-gazing on a clear night, with the open sky above and no street lights disturbing the view.
However, I decide to walk just a bit further. Within a short distance, on the other side of the bog, there is the Iso-Musta lake and the small island where there is another shelter. No need to use the tiny ferry to cross the lake now that the lake is frozen... Do I smell smoke?
Oh yes! The group of people that I just saw leaving the island had a fire going and the embers are still there, burning hot. It only takes a couple of puffs to get the fire going again. Time to sit down by the fire and have a cup of hot tea from a kuksa, a traditional cup made of wood, and some pulla (a bun). What a great day!
From Iso-Musta the circular trail continues back towards the parking lot, following first a path and then a wider trail. The remaining 1.2 kilometres offer more of beautiful winter scenery now that the felled area is covered with snow.
The young birch creates an arch above the trail, thanks to the weight of the snow. The poor tree will straighten her back after the snow has melted. The path is now pretty firm under my feet; so firm that I take off my snowshoes and walk the rest of the way carrying them in my hands. You don't always need to have clear blue skies for the day to be beautiful; black and white can be equally gorgeous.


  1. Finland is also beautiful in winter time i see ;)

  2. It is beautiful all year round, I'd say.