Myllykoski rapids and Koskikara nature trail in the Nurmijärvi municipality are the perfect day trip destination near Finland’s capital area especially if you are into birdwatching. The Myllykoski rapids in Vantaajoki river are impressive even in the middle of the winter. And koskikara, white-throated dipper in English, is such a common bird in this area that even the nature trail has been named after it.
We headed to the Myllykoski in Nurmijärvi on a crisp winter day in January. We are currently experiencing a snowless winter in Southern Finland, so heading to duckboards wasn’t a totally bad idea in winter.
And apparently, we were not the only ones who had decided to spend a beautiful Sunday by the river and have a campfire lunch outdoors. All fireplaces were reserved but people were happy to make some space for us, too.
Myllykoski in Nurmijärvi is an ancient mill site
Myllykoski rapids have had some mills since the 1500s. Millers at Myllykoski were well respected as they took care of the mill. Experienced millers could hear from the sound of the millstones if everything was working properly. A trip to the mill took often the whole day as farmers would travel by foot or with horse carriages. The local miller was known to let those travelling by foot get their grains ground first.
Since the 1700s 100-km long Vantaanjoki was also used for floating logs. The logs had been transported towards the river during the winter, and when the ice melted, they were floated downstream to sawmills. The first powerplant was built here in the 1920s, to produce electricity to the town of Nurmijärvi. It was demolished in 1982. When we were wondering downstream from the rapids, we could see some ruins of the old powerplant structures.
The Koskikara nature trail has several fireplaces
The Koskikara nature trail is about 1,5 kilometers long but there are few different paths to choose from. The path along the river takes you through Natura -protected area mainly on the duckboards.
The path departs from the parking lot from where there is only about 300 meters walk to the river shore. We picked up some geocaches along the way and took our time to wonder around in this area.
The forests at Myllykoski are covered with thick, dark green mosses, which look soft enough to sleep on. As the weather was beautifully crisp and frosty on the day of our visit, the contrast between the frozen meadows and the lush greenery of the pine forest was like something the Snow Queen of H.C. Andersen could have created.
One especially great game for everyone is to try to guess all the tree species present in the forest. They have small “necklaces” wrapped around them with the name of the species in Finnish and Latin. You can also check out the QR-code and learn more about them while you meander along. We had way too much fun playing this game, but it just shows you how good being outdoors is for your well-being. Laughter lengthens life, we say in Finland.
The Myllykoski area is partially accessible, meaning that the main circular route has wide, smooth paths. It is even possible to go down to the river and to the firepits on smooth paths. The rapids are accessible if you stay on the main platform on top of the rapids… and the view is quite something from there so highly recommended! Otherwise, the rest of the paths have to be travelled on duckboards to preserve the protected nature.
A reminder when walking on duckboards: when someone comes in the opposite direction to you, check if there is a place for you to safely step off the duckboards and let the others pass.
We took some time to take photos of some exquisite frosted flora. Being so close to the river, the humid air had created wondrous patterns in the surrounding meadows. Just taking the time to stop and gaze at this fragile artwork created by Mother Nature took all our stress away.
Can you spot a white-throated dipper?
The white-throated dippers, also known as the European dippers or just dippers, are aquatic passerine birds. They are easy to recognize from the white area in their chest while they are standing in the middle of the river. We could spot several of them when walking along the river banks. For a while we thought one of them was stuck in the ice for standing still, but eventually the bird took off and we didn’t need to worry about it. It was fascinating to see the dippers dive for food in the river.
Another good reminder is to realize that the brown color of the water doesn’t mean the water is polluted. It carries a lot of humus or organic matter with it, making it brown.
Directions to Myllykoski in Nurmijärvi
How to get there: Myllykoski is located close to the capital area and therefore an easy day trip destination from Helsinki. It can be reached easily also by public transport.
- Car: Head north on Tampere highway number E12, also known as highway 3. Take exit 13 from E12 to Sippoontie. The parking lot is right after the bridge on the left.
- Bicycle: Note that you cannot cycle on the highway, but you can follow Gamla Tavastehusvägen/Vanha Hämeenlinnantie to the north to reach Sippoontie.
- Public transport: The buses from Kamppi/Helsinki to Hämeenlinna and Tampere pass Nurmijärvi, where the closest bus stop is called Nurmijärvi liittymä P (or liittymä 13) along the highway E12. The bus from Helsinki takes about 35 minutes. From the bus stop there is only about 600 meters walk to the river. Check out timetables and tickets at Matkahuolto.
Accessibility: The nature trail includes duckboards and there are several stairs along the way. If you want a fully accessible paths, stay close to the parking area and the paths around it.
When to go: We recommend visiting this area when there isn’t a lot of snow on the ground, but keep in mind that the duckboards and bridges might be slippery when they are wet. The white-throated dippers stay here over winter. Myllykoski has the most impressive rapids in early spring.
What to wear: Don’t forget your binoculars for birdwatching.
Also visit in the area
For example, Kaitalampi in Espoo provides more trails in nearby Luukki recreation area if you are looking for a hiking destination in close proximity to the capital area.