Quiet life of winter in Geopark – On skis to the mire

The mystical mires are easy to explore in winter, for example on skis. The skis provide access to places that are inaccessible during melted ground.

On skis to Huidankeidas

The mystical nature of mire is easy to explore in winter, for example on skis. They provide access to places that are inaccessible during melted ground – partly because they cannot be reached and because many wetlands are nesting areas for birds where you are not allowed to go. So is Huidankeidas.

Huidankeidas is located in Honkajoki, and there is a guided route from Siikaistentie via Haukantie. The road leading to the parking area of Huidankeidas is kept open in winter. I drove there and skied first along the path to the observation tower.

Cross-country skiing

The trail had not been walked since the previous snowfall, so I got to ski in thick unbroken snow. The landscape was really beautiful, the sun was shining low, how it can shine in January, and painted warm shades on top of the trees.

Birch grove

On the edge of Huidankeidas, there is a magnificent birch grove where the trees curved from the weight of the snow. In 1959, there was a conflagration in the area of the municipalities of Honkajoki and Isojoki, and the birch grove was born after that. In summer, it is a paradise for small birds.

Peaceful mire

The mire opened bold and calm, clean crust shining in the sun. There was no sound. I continued southeast of the tower near the edge of the mire, sometimes over the pools on solid ice and over the hummocks, sometimes diving between stunted pines. Gradually, traces of life began to appear.

Traces on the snow

An ermine had wandered on the surface of the snow purposefully. Small pairs of traces ran across the hummocks as a regular ribbon. The ermine keeps the little rodents in check, but it can also catch rabbits by biting its prey into its neck. The ermine has also been seen caught in the throat of a capercaillie.

Soon I found myself in the middle of a suburb of the black grouse. There were numerous hollows and corridors here and there, and there were also droppings in the pits, revealing to whom the beds belonged. Sufficient amount of soft snow means a favorable winter for the black grouse. It gets to rest out of reach of birds of prey and the cold.

To Huidansalo

At the edge of the mire, traces of a hare crisscrossed. They didn’t seem to lead anywhere, they just ended. The hare is a cunning guy, as it makes a comeback by walking its own footprints a little further back and then jumping to the side. Thus, it misleads potential predators.

The rabbit had dug up the snow to the ground to find something to eat. Fortunately, the snow was soft, so it had gotten in easily.

I skied to Huidansalo, which seemed interesting on the map. It is a “foreland” at the edge of a mire, gentle undulating terrain with ridges of dunes and ancient embankments. There were several elegant deadwoods on the edge of the mire, and on the dry land side began a magnificent, spacious pine forest. Immediately at the edge of the pine forest, the capercaillie had scampered back and forth. I followed its traces a little way if I had seen it, but I soon gave up the chase.

Quiet pine forest

In the pine forest I heard only a woodpecker tapping, all the little birds were conspicuously absent. The weather was quite cold, it was over ten degrees below zero and it started to get a little windy, so the smaller birds were definitely in more sheltered woods.

Surprise on top of a tree

After enjoying a packed lunch I returned and still admired the peace of the mire and the fine colors of the sky. On the way back between Honkajoki and Siikainen, I noticed a capercaillie eating at the top of a pine tree. It uses the needles of weak and old pines for food, as they contain less resin substances that impair digestion. The capercaillie cock  on top of a frosty tree is called “frost capercaillie”. It is a term especially familiar to hunters.

Although the mire looks quiet in winter, there are plenty of traces and signs of biodiversity in the harsh conditions. The stories are written on the surface of the snow, and passing slowly you may see the ones who have made the traces. The sparse soundscape also speaks its own language. Welcome to the mystical mires of the Geopark on bright winter days – and moonlit nights!

Text and photos: Terttu Hermansson

Christmas atmosphere in the Geopark

Come to the Geopark and enjoy quiet nature by a campfire. Visit the cafés and restaurants in the area. From the boutiques you will buy the most wonderful gifts for Christmas. Feel the peaceful Christmas atmosphere of the Geopark!

Calm down in the Geopark

Forget the hurry in nature in the Geopark. Take a hike and explore the destinations that tell the unique story of the Geopark. The scenery tells about the development of the area from an ancient mountain range to the present landscape with vast open mires.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku, Kauhaneva, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

The springs of Hämeenkangas which are open throughout the year, the enchanting spruce gorge of Katikankanjoni, the frosty mires and numerous other magnificent Geopark sites call you for a visit.  Lauhanvuori and Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Parks, for example, are great excursion destinations even in winter. In Lauhanvuori National Park you can even meet Finnish forest deers!

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku, Lauhanvuori National Park

 

Neva-Lyly is a favorite destination for families with children. Take a hike on the duckboard trail and get to know the story of Wilpertti Gnome who lives in a tiny hut. Eat snacks by a campfire in lean-to or by the lake. In Neva-Lyly you may even heat up the sauna!

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Neva-Lyly

Mountainbikers enjoy riding a bike on the GeoBike route (in Finnish) in Lauhanvuori National Park, on the needle paths of the ridges on Hämeenkangas (in Finnish), the route (in Finnish) in the cultural and forest landscapes of Kauhajoki from Hyyppä valley’s landscape area to Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park and on the wilderness route (in Finnish) from Pyhäniemi to Käsyvuori. The routes are easy to ride and suitable for beginners, too.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Lauhanvuori National Park

You can rent a bicycle from our area (the links in Finnish):

Photo: e-bike Holidays, Pyhäniemi

When there is little snow, the Geopark’s routes and destinations are in use and accessible. However, the Lauhanvuori observation tower will be closed for the winter for safety reasons. When there is enough snow, the Geopark has great opportunities for skiing and sledding.

 Learn more about the Geopark’s destinations and routes on our Discover pages.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Kylmänmyllynlähde, Hämeenkangas

Experience the local culture

In the Geopark you will also discover the fascinating culture of the area. Take a tour in the villages and chat with the locals. For example, the host of Kammi-kylä may tell you stories about former inhabitants of the area. Get to know e.g. the Circle of Art and admire the Geopark’s cultural sites and landscapes in their winter outfits. Learn more about Geopark’s cultural landscapes and significant buildings.

Learn more about the Geopark’s destinations and routes on our Discover pages.

Photo: The town of Kauhajoki, Hämes-Havunen

CALM DOWN IN THE GEOPARK

Enjoy the services and your stay in the Geopark

The companies in our area offer high-quality services to travelers in the area. Check out the wide range on our Services page.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku

Visit the Geopark’s cafés and restaurants, where pure local ingredients such as berries, mushrooms and game are prepared to tempting delicacies. You can also buy take away snacks from cafes and restaurants and eat them in the woods.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku

In the farm stores and boutiques, you may purchase unique gifts. Buy for yourself or a loved one, for example, soft socks woven from local sheep’s wool or delicacies made from local ingredients. A gift card of a Geopark enterprice is a great gift idea!

Photo: Noora Mäkinen / Tilapuoti Dyrfinna

Take a local guide with you on your trip and you will enjoy Geopark to the fullest. With a local guide, the tour is comfortable and safe, you will find the best routes and the most fascinating destinations and hear stories. Information on local guides can be found on our Activities page.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Alkkianvuori

It is shown that staying and exercising in nature promote health and well-being. You can make the best of the well-being effects of nature under the guidance of dedicated experts. After outdoor activities, you will pamper yourself with, for example, peat treatment and bathing in the smoke sauna and the hot tub in the woods. Learn more on our Wellness page.

Photo: Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere, Kirkkokadun Hyvän Olon Keskus

When the evening comes, it is wonderful to relax in the warmth of the fireplace in a cozy cottage. High-quality and varied accommodation options from cottages to hotels are available throughout the Geopark area. Learn more on our Accommodation page.

Photo: Pyhäniemi Wellbeing

Some gems of the current supply of companies in the area

Lauha’s Christmas delicacies and sauna experiences

Lauha offers Christmas delicacies and sauna experiences in Honkahovi and the Lauhansarvi Nature Tourist Center next to Lauhanvuori National Park. Please, make a table reservation in advance. You can also order Christmas food for your own occasions and choose the delicacies you like from several different menu options. For example, try the GEOfood menus, which are based on regional dishes such as local game, berries and root vegetables.

In Lauhansarvi, you can also enjoy a variety of sauna experiences. Book a smoke sauna, a peat sauna or a sauna with a bath for your family or group. Accomplish your sauna evening with tasty meals. Learn more on Lauha’s website (in Finnish).

Photo: Lauhatuotanto

An authentic country Christmas in Luomajärvi Horse Inn

Experience the Christmas atmosphere in the idyllic rural setting in Luomajärvi Horse Inn. The farm’s horses, ponies and other domestic animals, as well as the top-class restaurant invite you to enjoy and relax. Horse Inn offers e.g. horse rides with delicious snacks by the campfire. Also remember the gift cards (in Finnish) of the Horse Inn.

A wonderful Christmas lunch is served in the restaurant on 24th of December. Please, book your table for Christmas lunch in advance. You can also spend a memorable country Christmas in the Inn with its unique accommodations, meals and programs. Learn more on the Inn’s website (in Finnish).

Photo: Luomajäri Horse Inn

Come to the Horse Inn’s Christmas market On Sunday, December 19, 2021. In the old barn where stable lanterns twinkle, the products of local craftsmen and farms are sold. Rice porridge and Christmas pastries are enjoyed in the Christmas café, and more meaty delicacies are served in the yard. Taste also homemade Christmas glogg and glühwein. Learn more on the Inn’s Facebook page (in Finnish).

Photo: Luomajäri Horse Inn

Delicacies at Café Postelli

Pop in to the atmospheric Café Postelli located next to the famous market place in Kankaanpää! The red-brick, sympathetic, former post office built in the 1930s is an attraction in itself.

The café serves tempting savory and sweet delicacies. The pastries are made on site by Postelli’s own baker. Order the most beautiful biscuits and tasty cakes and loafs for your own Christmas table as well! Learn more on Postelli’s website (in Finnish).

Photo: Café Postelli

Meggala Winery’s Christmas shop with wines and gifts

Buy wonderful local wines, mulled wine and ciders for your Christmas table from the winery Meggala. You can also taste Meggala’s drinks in the winery’s own, atmospheric café-restaurant.

In addition to drinks, you can also buy pastries from Julia’s bakery and local handicrafts for yourself or for a gift. Meggala’s elves welcome you to the farm shop every day (except Mondays) and especially on Sat 18.12. for the winery’s Christmas market. Learn more on the Meggala Winery’s website (in Finnish).

Photo: Meggala Winery

Fabulous Christmas in Valkoinen Puu Cafe & Shop

Valkoinen Puu Cafe & Shop along the main street of the town of Kauhajoki, in the former Ollonqvist commercial house, invites you to enjoy the atmosphere and famous delicacies of the café. Sea buckthorn-meringue ​cake, Lapland’s mother’s lingonberry dream cake and numerous other wonderful pastries are handmade in the café’s own bakery from local ingredients.

In the café’s shop, you can buy the most beautiful and delicious Christmas gifts pre-packaged. Handmade delicacies baked from high-quality, local, organic ingredients, jams and juices from a nearby farm, as well as ceramics from the café’s owner couple, are sure to delight the recipient of the gift. Also remember the gift cards of Valkoinen Puu! Learn more on the Valkoinen Puu website.

Photo: Valkoinen Puu

For Christmas, a unique Secret Garden Inn will open in Kauhajoki, in the former Äijälä parsonage, located nearby the Valkoinen Puu Café. You can see on Instagram (@salaisen.puutarhan.majatalo) the owner couple of Valkoinen Puu, Kirsi and Mark, preparing the Inn to receive the first guests.

Photo: Valkoinen Puu

Enjoy the Geopark’s high-quality services

Relax by a campfire

The Geopark has lots of great resting places where you can spend time by a campfire. There is firewood freely available to visitors in most of these sites. Campfires are only allowed at marked campfire sites. You can find some of these on the Retkikartta map service. You can find information on other campfire sites on the Geopark municipalities’ web pages.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Spitaalijärvi, Lauhanvuori National Park

Outdoor Etiquette

When hiking, it is always important to consider nature and other people. Respect nature in every way and keep pets in the leash. Prevent the waste in advance. Bring your debris out of the forest and sort the garbage properly. Please use marked trails and follow the rules for different modes of travel. Stay overnight only in marked camping areas.

Learn more: Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland’s Outdoor Etiquette and How to act responsibly when visiting the Geopark

Photo: Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland, Outdoor Etiquette

Please notice the valid regional corona pandemic restrictions and recommendations (Satakunta / Southern Ostrobothnia / Pirkanmaa, in Finnish) as well as Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland’s corona virus guidelines when visiting the Geopark. Please always check the realisation of events and the availability of services on the organizers’ web pages. The Geopark is not responsible for any changes.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Katikankanjoni, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Experience the Geopark through a film

Get to know the inhabitants, culture and nature of the area through the Geopark’s In a blink of an eye promotional film. What we see in a blink of an eye is the result of billions of years of geological evolution.

Watch the video on YouTube and enjoy!

Terttu Hermansson: Terttu Hermansson, Olu Bryki Raum / Suupohja Brewery in Korsukylä

Main photo: Pasi Talvitie, Hämeenkangas

Other photos: Terttu Hermansson, Pasi Talvitie

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Welcome to the Geopark at Christmas time!

Welcome to the wintery Geopark

The winter of the Geopark is full of activities. Enjoy cross-country skiing on maintained tracks, snowshoeing on quiet mires and downhill sledding. Have a snack by a campfire. The wintery Geopark has a charming nature and plenty of services to enjoy!

Enjoy the winter events

Entrepreneurs of the area offer targeted, safe experiences for families and small groups. For example, a guided trip to the snowy forest, dining by the campfire and a sauna after it will create the perfect winter holiday atmosphere.

Please remember the corona virus instructions when visiting the Geopark. Geopark’s partner companies are responsible for arranging the events, so please always ensure that they take place and ask special instructions from the companies.

Photo: Matti Hautalahti, Kammi-kylä

Here we introduce you some gems of Geopark’s winter offering. You can also easily buy experiences through Geopark’s online store.

Enjoy the treats of Valkoinen Puu Café

Enjoy the cafe’s cheerful service as well as hearty, American-style cakes baked from the best, locally sourced ingredients! Read more on the Valkoinen Puu website.

Swim in the ice hole in Eteläpää

In the tourist center Eteläpää you can swim in the ice hole at least every Sunday during the winter season. Before swimming and having a sauna you can ski on the nice trails of Eteläpää. Read more on Eteläpää’s website (in Finnish).

A family trip to an atmospheric croft

With Kurkikorpi Grandma’s host couple, you can sled to Asell’s croft. There you can have joyful outdoor games and roast stick buns and sausages on the campfire. Take a peek into the 19th-century life of the croft and warm up by the oven. Ask for more information.

Sauna experiences next to the National Park

Lauhansarvi next to Lauhanvuori National Park offers relaxing sauna experiences for families and groups. Enjoy the soft steams of the smoke sauna and spend time in a traditional hut, pamper yourself in the peat sauna or choose a sauna with a hot tub. Read more and book your sauna experience on the web store (in Finnish).

Winter vacation in SyVilla

SyVilla’s winter scenery and nature will charm you at first sight. In SyVilla you will stay comfortably and enjoy the sauna and the outdoor jacuzzi. If you wish, you can also relax in the smoke sauna. Read more and book your holiday on the web store.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

Taikapolku takes you to winter nature with snowshoes

Snowshoes open new sights to winter nature in Lauhanvuori National Park, the Hyyppä Valley and elsewhere in the Geopark. With snowshoes you can enjoy varied terrain calmly or a little faster. Good snacks complete the lovely experience.

Book a tour for your own group or take part in ready-made departures:

  • Saturday 27th of February at 11 am Brooks of Lauhanvuori National Park
  • Saturday 27th of February at 7 pm Mire in a moonlight in Kauhajoki
  • Sunday 7th of March at 10 am Lauhanvuori National Park

Read more and book your experience on the Taikapolku web store (in Finnish).

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku, Hyyppä Valley

Winter experiences in Luomajärvi Horse Inn

Luomajärvi Horse Inn offers wonderful winter activities with ponies and other domestic animals in an old-fashioned rural setting. Read more on the website and book your own experience. Some examples:

  • Trail riding with a pony or a horse and sleigh riding to lean-to including delicious snacks by an open fire
  • A day on the farm for the whole family
  • Snowshoeing in the forest to a lean-to with a campfire
  • A nice moment with ponies for children including pony-care and a leash ride

Photo: Luomajärvi Horse Inn

Exercise and have fun in the winter nature

There are hundreds of miles of groomed trails in the Geopark. Ski slowly or raise your heart rate in varying terrains. Read more about Geopark’s skiing opportunities. You can also explore the winter nature of the Geopark, for example, on horseback or snowshoeing. You can find service providers for guided tours and equipment rental in the Activities section of our website. You can also go wild on the mighty sledding hills of the Geopark.

Photo: Kuntoutuskeskus Kankaanpää, Hämeenkangas

Rent equipment for winter activities

Geopark’s partner companies and the municipalities of the area rent equipment for winter activities. Here are some options. Ask companies for more information. Some of the equipment can be rented in Geopark’s web store. The following web pages are in Finnish.

Photo: Jennika Hakola / eBike Adventures, Lauhanvuori National Park

Skinbased skies

 

Snowshoes

Mountain bikes

Relax by a campfire

The highlight of the outdoor activities is a meal by a campfire. You can buy ready-made take-away treats from cafés or restaurants of the area. Let the blaze of the campfire an the sounds of the surrounding nature relax you. In the Geopark, there are many sheds with firewood freely available to visitors. Campfires are only allowed at marked campfire sites. You can find these sites on Retkikartta online map service. Please also pay attention to the corona virus instructions and the Outdoor etiquette of Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland when hiking in the Geopark.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku, Lauhanvuori National Park

Our entrepreneurs at your service

Entrepreneurs of the area make your stay at the Geopark as relaxing and successful as possible. Treat yourself with the delicacies of the area’s cafés and restaurants and shop at the farm shops and small boutiques. Enjoy the destinations on a guided tour or rent equipment for your own adventures. Relax in natural treatments and the sauna and stay overnight in some of our high-quality accommodation options. The Geopark offers a huge variety of services for both day travelers and those staying longer. Check out the service offering on our website.

Photo: Valkoinen Puu, Kauhajoki

Stay overnight and sleep well

Rent a high-quality cottage or choose another accommodation option of your choice in the Geopark area. Well-equipped cottages and a wide range of additional services guarantee a relaxing holiday. In the Geopark you can spend a memorable night in an AuroraHut igloo. Read more and book on the web store (in Finnish).

Photo: Tiina Ekholm / Lomamökki Luistokas, Jämi

Experience the Geopark through a film

Get to know the inhabitants, the culture and the nature of the area through Geopark’s In a Blink of an eye promotional film. What we see in a blink of an eye is the result of billions of years of geological evolution.

Watch the video on YouTube and enjoy!

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Annen Taidekahvila, Karvia

Main photo: Kari Leo, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Fall in love with skiing in the Geopark

Well-groomed trails and glowing snowy mires call you to ski in the Geopark. Due to the geological history, the area has also higher hills that collect more snowfall than the surrounding areas.

On the tracks and outside of them

There are hundreds of miles of groomed trails in the Geopark. The magnificent trails of the pine forests of Hämeenkangas and Lauhanvuori National Park as well as the Pyhäniemi – Käskyvuori route in Kihniö are among the most popular ones, but there are also other great skiing opportunities in every municipality of the area. You can find trail maps and information on the condition of the trails in the links below. Some of the trails are also marked on Retkikartta online map service. In Jämi in Hämeenkangas, dog enthusiasts can ski on their own dog track (in Finnish).

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Hämeenkangas

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Hämeenkangas

With long forest skis, handy skinbased skis or traditional snowshoes, you will create your own routes outside Geopark’s ready-made trails and find your new, most enchanting favorite places. Professional guides of our area will take you on nature adventures safely. You can find these activity providers in the Activities section of our website. You can also rent equipment for your own winter experiences. Read more on our winter article.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku, Hyyppä valley

Challenge yourself at skiing events

The area has a long tradition of large skiing events. Pirkka Ski Race in Hämeenkangas is the oldest continuously organized mass skiing event in Finland, and Kauha-Hiihto and Lauhan hiihto events have brought skiers to Lauhanvuori for decades.

Photo: Pirkka Ski Race, Hämeenkangas

Pirkka Ski Race

Pirkka Ski Race is organized yearly at early March from Niinisalo in Kankaanpää via Jämijärvi to Tampere. In addition to the full distance of 90 kilometers, it is also possible to ski shorter sections of the trip.

The actual Pirkka Ski Race will be organized on 6th of march, if possible. One week after this, Reppu-Pirkka, based on self-service, may possibly be arranged this year, despite the pandemic. Read more about the event on the organizer’s website.  

Kauha-Hiihto and Lauhan hiihto skiing events

Another large, traditional skiing event in the Geopark area is Kauha-Hiihto in the Lauhanvuori area in late February. The event will be arranged on 20th of February, if possible. Read more about the event on the organizer’s website (in Finnish).

In Isojoki, in the landscapes of Lauhanvuori, Lauhan hiihto skiing event has traditionally been organized. 

Main photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park