Paloheinä and Haltiala (Central Park, Helsinki)

Last weekend Brigitte and I took a walk in the northern part of Helsinki’s central park (keskuspuisto = centre + park), visiting the Paloheinä and Haltiala sections. This is the largest portion of the park and contains lots to see – we mostly stuck to the natural areas and saw some pretty impressive stretches of forest, including a patch of primeval forest (more than 50 years without fire or management). The berry season seems long past in Helsinki, but there were lots of different mushrooms along the paths (and a fair number of people picking them – the forecast is for a good harvest this year).

The old growth forest in the Haltiala section of the park

 

We had a small picnic lunch on the banks of the Vantaa river at the specially protected Pitkäkoski area (pitkä = long, koski = river rapid). The area is conserved for its unusual plant diversity, and was looking really lush and green even after the hot summer southern Finland has had (4th warmest in last century – see here).

Pitkäkoski (= long rapids), in Helsinki's Central Park

 

The last stop on our walk was the “artifical” Paloheinä hill – it was originally a rubbish dump, but has now been revegetated and restored. It’s used for tobogganing and skiing – and is particularly  favoured in Helsinki due to the city’s flatness. By that stage we were feeling a bit hot and bothered (hence the lack of photos), so headed back to the Paloheinä hiking lodge (i.e. cafe and bathrooms), bought a Geisha ice cream (yummy!) and caught our bus back home. All in all, a really good afternoon in Helsinki’s premier park.

 

We travelled from Kallio to Paloheinä on the 66A bus with the trip taking about 35 minutes (one-way).

 

The park looks a little different in winter, judging from some photos on Panoramio – see for example here and here!

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