Kotiniemi invites hikers out in the open, to the shelter of ancient trees on the shores of Keurusselkä lake. This is a story of how Kotiniemi in Häkkiskylä, Keuruu, got its nature trail.

Original author of the Finnish text: Liisa Vesterinen

On the Eastern shores of Keurusselkä lake, one can find Kotiniemi nature trail in Häkkiskylä that offers a hiker versatile country to walk in nature. The destination is fantastic for families with kids, too – it’s suitably long and offers surprises – if only one can see them.

At the end of Häkkisentie road, there’s a bridge next to a pump shed that leads to the nature trail. The tip of the headland is owned by Finnish Forest and Park service nowadays, but it used to be part of the head estate of Ala-Häkkinen. The estate was sold to Rosenlew in 1874. During the emergency settlement of the displaced rural population after wars, the headland was almost split for settlement. However, the scenery and the headland’s untouched nature was seen as valuable and the area remained in its natural state. The area has been used for duck shooting and trap fishing. In addition, it has been used for ice-fishing and it’s known for its good fishing grounds for vendace.

66 hay poles + 70 meters of duckboards = 1,3 kilometers of nature trail

In a Harbour and Routes project, the municipality’s nature destinations were mapped which is when Kotiniemi’s possibilities for hiking came up. The villagers got excited about the idea of getting a local exercising place. The Forest and Park Service and a private landowner gave their permission for the trail and the city covered some of the expenses. Starting from the spring of 2020, people from five houses volunteered in the woods, clearing the paths wider while Keurusseudun Luonnonystävät ry carried out a mapping of the nature. Duckboards for a narrow path between a small pond and lake Keurusselkä were built from donated timber. The same material was used to build a campfire circle in the village’s boat dock that was being cleared up at the same time. In order to maintain the headland in its natural state, a lean-to could not be built there. Therefore, people can enjoy their hiking snacks in the boat dock that villagers nowadays call Alanen Beach. As a result of the voluntary work, the nature trail was opened for use in September 2020.

Treasures of the woods

Kotiniemi nature trail is a combination of multiple nature types including forest protected by landowners and commercial forest. In the terrain, one can easily spot a former bank that was formed in the 1820’s when the water level of Keurusselkä lowered by over a meter. The reason behind it was cleaning the whitewater to protect against floods and an increased demand for arable land. This way, more cultivated area was gained for the needs of a growing population. In the springtime, the water may rise in the beginning of the trail. At times, it meanders touching the underwood where a hazel grouse or a rabbit might be hiding. In the tip of the headland, there’s a resting place favoured by swans and other birds. In the winter, one must remember that the current in the tip of the headland weakens the ice and one should not go there. On warm summer days, one can sit on the large rocks and let the sun and the wind caress cheeks. In the shallows of Tiirinselkä side of the lake, one can also dip into the water.

The trail continues with a lakeside path to Häkkisenharju, where there are many decayed trees and tall, over 200 years old pines. The decayed birches pecked by great spotted woodpeckers are now the land of pests. In the middle of the forest, there’s a rowan grove that has a magical atmosphere that unleashes your imagination. It’s like in a fairytale forest, where a green carpet colored by blueberries and stiff club-moss borders the hiker’s route.

In the 1970’s, there was still cattle grazing in the former peatland meadow steppes. Sometimes, a greedy ruminant could sink in the bughole when the people of a house had to pull up the animal using ropes. Nowadays the pasture grows silver birch and the upper slope is planted curly birch. The route is marked on the terrain with blue signposts and hay poles, which now have good reuse. The trail is 1.3 km long, along which guide signs tell about the nature and history of the area.

Hiker’s check list
When hiking on the trail, remember public right and route etiquette! This way, you can appreciate the ones who have made the nature trail for you and given their land for it. Prefer marked routes and avoid nature’s deterioration. Using the trail for non-pedestrian traffic is prohibited. Keep your pet leashed, even if it was kind. Making a fire is prohibited in the area. Do not trash – take away what you brought with you. Please consider plants as well. Do not disturb or damage bird nests or nestlings. Using the trail is at everyone’s own risk! Recommended direction of walking is clockwise. Parking area is opposite to the starting point at the village’s bonfire area. The village road has a speed limit of 40 km/h.

You are warmly welcome to enjoy Kotiniemi!
Address: Häkkisentie 175, Keuruu

Jaa juttu kavereille!