Aneriojärvi is a small lake in Suomusjärvi in Salo municipality, only 1 kilometer south from Helsinki-Turku motorway. There is a wooden walkway leading to a birdwatching tower and a small river called Varesjoki. A short distance away you may also see a huge 10-meter high boulder called Hermolanvaha. Based on archeological finds this area has been inhabited for at least 8000 years.
Suomusjärvi is located in Southwest Finland (or Finland Proper), which is a region not-so-surprisingly in the south-west of Finland. Suomusjärvi municipality was established in 1868, and in 2009 it became part of Salo municipality. The area is known for Suomusjärvi culture, which existed in this area in the Stone Age between 8400 and 5100 BC. At that time Finland was being freed from the ice of the Ice Age and the emerging land areas were being colonised. Aneriojärvi was probably a bay in the sea then. Typical finds in this area included axes, arrowheads and hammerstones, suggesting that people here were engaged in fishing, hunting and forestry. Allthough nobody knows what hammerstones were or how they were used. No ceramics has been found, and that sets Suomusjärvi culture apart from the Comb Ceramic Culture.
Aneriojärvi nature trails
The Aneriojärvi nature trail departs from the parking lot by the lake, and it consists of two parts. The first part is 1,2 kilometer long wooden walkway next to the lakeside (green). It leads you to the birdwatching tower and the river Varesjoki. At the end of there trail there is an old-fashioned bird shelter (Lintupiilo on the map) by the lake.
The second part of the trail is 7 kilometers long hiking or cycling route called culture trail (red). It follows mainly the roads in Laperla village and takes you close to the Hermolanvaha (Vahakivi on the map). There is no clear trail from the road to the boulder, so walk on the side of the field, not directly through the field.
All information boards on these trails are in Finnish and in English. These trails were established in 2008 mainly on private land, and they provide plenty of information of the area and its remarkable history. The info boards also describe Stone Age rock paintings, but none of those have been found in this area.
Aneriojärvi birdwatching tower
The Aneriojärvi lake has a diverse birdlife and it is also a popular resting area for migratory birds. As I was walking towards the birdwatching tower, I could hear many different birds around me on the trees and bushes. The day was very sunny and hot for early June, and the temperature was 28 degrees Celcius. The birds were so loud that it almost felt like I was on a jungle trail! Very peculiar feeling.
Some rare species of birds in this area include Bitterns, Northern shovelers, Ruffs and Marsh harriers. Bitterns are the noisiest birds in Finland and they can be heard on Lake Aneriojärvi in May-June. Recently from this tower birdwatchers have spotted for example Short-eared owl, Blyth’s reed warbler and Whooper swan.
The Hermolanvaha, also known as Vahakivi, is a 10 meter high boulder, located at the border of Suomusjärvi and Kiikala areas in Salo. It is located in the middle of a flat field but surrounded by few trees. Without the trees it would look even more strange. It is easy to imagine how people in the stone age felt about the boulder.
In Finnish mythology boulders like this were believed to be the work of the devil. People in this area were respecting this boulder and believed that the devil himself lived there. According to the old stories you were not supposed to walk close to this boulder in the middle of the night, otherwise you would get stuck here for the whole night. I wonder if it was somebody’s spouse, returning to home in the morning, who came up with this story? In the Middle Ages the church said that the Great Flood brought this boulder here. That was pretty close, because in a way ice could be seen as part of the flood.
How to get there: You can get to the Aneriojärvi by car, by bicycle, and by public transport.
- Car: Aneriojärvi is in very close proximity to E18 Helsinki-Turku motorway by the old highway 110, so it is very easy to get to by car. Use the address Helsingintie 2547 Salo or Aneriojärvi in your navigator. When arriving from E18 motorway, take exit 18 toward Suomusjärvi.
- Bicycle: The cycling routes follow vehicle roads except on the motorway, where you are not allowed to cycle. Aneriojärvi culture trail is meant for bikes, but cycling on the wooden walkway / duckboards is not worth it.
- Public transport: Buses operate for example from Helsinki, Turku and Salo to Suomusjärvi regularly. The closest bus stop is called Suomusjärvi 110-tie I, about 1 kilometer walk away from the parking lot and the begininng of the trails. See timetables at Matkahuolto website.
When to visit: Birdwatching is popular especially during spring migration from April to June and autumn migration from July to September. The Hermolanvaha boulder on the other hand is best visible when there are no leaves on the trees. It’s not easily accessible if there is a lot of snow on the ground.
Accessibility: There are no services for the disabled in the area. And no toilet facilities either. The wooden walkway is easy to walk but it has few steep steps in the beginning.