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There are plenty of possibilities for outdoor activities in Vaasa especially when you are into hiking, snowshoeing, packrafting or outdoor photography. In this blog post, you will read about my outdoors experiences while I have lived in Vaasa for 2 years.
Packrafting in Pilvilampi
Joni and I went packrafting to Pilvilampi, a recreational area nearby Vaasa and a paradise for birdwatchers.
Joni and me agreed to meet at 9.30 pm at the Pilvilampi lake which was a 5 km ride from the city center of Vaasa. Mosquitoes immediately attacked us so we were in a hurry to get with our packrafts into the lake as soon as possible to get rid of those blood-hungry creatures.
On this trip I wanted to test how my new HMG Porter 4400 backpack is going to perform on the packraft since it will be essential that all gear is working properly for my trip to Sarek. The backpack became quite wet but stayed dry inside.
Joni was testing his new Canon 6D camera and decided to attach his bicycle on his packraft.
Daydreaming while packrafting.
Suunto Ambit2 tracked my route.
Water lilies …
At 23.30 it was still bright and we enjoyed the midnight sun and the silence of nature. HMG Porter 4400 on my Packraft
The length of this frog was around 1 cm.
Hiking to a bird tower
Approximately 5 km south of the Vaasa city center there is a possibility to hike in Risö; (Etelainen Kaupunginselka bay) and observe birds from a bird tower (lintutorni) – GPS: 63.05774 N – 21.67732 E. The trail to the tower is quite easy. However, you have to fight with hundreds of mosquitos while walking in the forest. This was a good opportunity to test my new Arcteryx Squamish hoody wind jacket.
Those books where you can leave a note can be found at several constructions maintained by Metsähallitus, a state enterprise which administers state-owned land and water areas in Finland.
I also hiked to the bird tower during winter. The landscape is more grey but it’s still nice to go outside and to enjoy nature.
Preparing lunch – Fresh frozen sausages and green tea in my new Thermos bottle.
Preparing a wooden stick with my Finnish knife – also called Puukko – to grill my sausages.
It’s nice to sit by the warm fire, relax and enjoy the silence.
Heavy flooding also in this part of Western Finland.
Hiking in Kajane, Maalahti
Kajane is located South of Vaasa. I hiked there just one month before the first mosquitoes should appear again.
You will almost always find firewood in places where you can officially lit a fire. This has been the case in all National Parks I have been so far in Finland and this seems to be also the case in Kajane (which is not a National Park).
The trail which leads to lake Lisansjön is called Lillträsket or in Swedish Lilla Naturstigen.
The trail goes through swamp areas.
Spruces and fir cones are spread all over the place.
Again swamps along our trail.
And there is our destination – the clear lake Lisansjön
Arctic Lichen is growing here as well.
My Inov-8 Roclite 295 was maybe not the best choice in a swamp without wearing waterproof socks.
We carried sausages in our backpacks and enjoyed a nice barbecue after the hike.
It was quite interesting to hike in Kajane since I would have never thought of this place without the recommendation of some local people who drove me to this place. You don’t need special hiking gear for this hike. Maybe waterproof shoes and a rain jacket if the weather is not stable. Depending on the time of the year you should also protect yourself against mosquitoes.
Skiing and Snowboarding in Öjberget
Öjberget is a small ski hill nearby the village of Sundom. If you are living in Vaasa and want to enjoy nice scenery or do some downhill, cross-country skiing or snowboarding then you should visit Öjberget.
The hill is 45 m high and has a length of 325 m. There is also an observation tower on top of the hill. Further, you can find a 5 km long cross-country ski run which is also lighted in the evening. 4000 years ago the hill has been an island 30 km away from the shore.
Obviously, you can not compare this hill to the Alps but it has the highest elevation in the area and is a great place to start learning Skiing and Snowboarding. I often visited Öjberget on my bicycle. The distance is approximately 10 km from from the city center.
The meteor crater in Söderfjärden seen from the observation tower. The meteor crater is also a popular place to observe migrating birds.
Hiking in Björköby
Björköby is located 20 km north of Vaasa and was originally an island before it got connected with the longest bridge in Finland to the mainland.
Once you reach Björköby watch out for a sign to Kalasatama – a fishing harbor where you can park your car.
From here you can hike 3 km until you reach a hut where you can make fire and grill your sausages. The hut is locked so you need to get the key beforehand. On this trip, I saw the remaining of stoves from the Russian Army when they were fighting against the Swedish Army somewhat before 1809 when Finland became a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire.
The harbor where you can park your car.
On the picture above you can see stoves used by Russians during the war. They are under protection.
Monument for the people who drowned since the 19th century.
Listening to the sea splashing against the stones.
This is the hut where you need to get a key beforehand if you want to use it.
Also firewood and a fireplace are available.
Packrafting in Replot
Having had no plans for this Sunday, I spontaneously went out with some friends to Fjardskar – a recreation place just before the Replot bridge – the longest bridge of Finland (1.045 m). At Fjardskar you can do water sports, having a barbecue or go for a short hike.
View towards the longest bridge of Finland.
My guess is that you can let boats into the water from this place. The tall building on the right-hand site signals boats that the water is deep enough to cross. Many ships were stranded in the Kvarken Archipelago in the old times due to the shallow water in this area.
I was paddling 30 minutes towards an island (and 30 minutes back) where birds were nesting. However, I tried to keep some distance as the seagulls became quite nervous when I got closer to the island.
Hiking in Öjen
Autumn is the best time to go hiking in Finland. The leaves are changing their colors and mosquitos have finally disappeared. Öjen is located between Vaasa and Sundom and can easily be reached by car or bicycle. The trail has a length of 5 km and there are around 130 different nesting species.
Well maintained trails and destination signs are part of the hiking experience in Öjen.
I have spotted a huge anthill on the trail. Was wondering how long it takes for ants to build such a huge ant hill …
Arctic Lichen growing in Öjen too.
Another map on the trail.
A well-maintained fireplace with the firewood in order to grill Makkara (sausage) welcomes us on our final destination in Öjen.
There are several beaches in Vaasa. The one below is on the way from the city center to the football stadium. Since this picture has been taken during spring, people are not that eager to go swimming yet (that’s why the beach is empty).
Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking
Temperatures went up from -21C to -4C on this winter day when I decided to try out my Tubbs snowshoes in the forest around Pilvilampi. with hiking trails ranging from 2 – 8 km.
The area is covered with boulders which have been placed here after the last ice age some 10.000 years ago when the area was covered with a 3 km thick ice layer.
The Pilvilampi lake is covered with ice and some people did ice fishing here too.
Checking for a good spot to venture into the wild forest with my snowshoes.
Following the trail towards Aurinkolaavu. Again the trails are very well marked with signboards on the crossroad.
Icicle almost everywhere …
Crossing a bridge to Aurinkolaavu to a very well maintained refuge with firewood.
After a long hike, it’s good to have my Thermos bottle with me to enjoy a warm cup of tea.
Another day in Vaasa – the sun was shining and I discovered interesting shapes of ice while walking along the shore.
Ice lce Baby …
With the bicycle you can reach almost any place – It’s just a matter of time. I went several times to the Kvarken Archipelago – a UNESCO World Heritage site – with my bicycle. The distance to the Swedish mainland is about 80 km and the depth of the water is about 25 meters. The area has been populated by human beings since 7000 years.
Here you can also find the Replot bridge, the longest bridge of Finland (1.045 meters long). Unfortunately, there is no good bus connection from Vaasa to Björköby, so you need to come by car or by bicycle. The distance to Björköby is about 40 km from Vaasa. During the summer months, there is one bus going on Saturdays only but you have to make a reservation.
It takes you 2 hours from Vaasa if you want to go by bicycle but it’s quite nice to pass the bridge, small villages and cycle nearby the sea. You can also take a map with you if you plan to do some hiking in the area around Bjököby. You may also need to make some arrangements with boat transportation if you want to hike the Björköby – Panike Trail.
View from the Saltkaret observation tower.
There are also plenty of hiking possibilities e.g. the nature trail Bodvattnet runt which passes Bodback – an old harbor – but some require to a arrange a boat beforehand. There are also boat museum and an annual sailing race event called Postrodden.
400 km north of Helsinki and even closer to the Arctic Circle, there are plenty of possibilities to take pictures you would not be able to get at other places more south.
Sunset in Finland – Kvarken Archipelago Summer 2012
Orthodox Church of Vaasa.
Bus services in Vaasa are not that good. You either need a bicycle or a car to get to some of the places described above (also check the weather forecast before you leave with your bicycle). Also, it is a good idea to get some cash from an ATM if you want to use public transportation. There is also an outdoor shop where you can buy some essentials.