Before the storm – Tapiontaival trail in Salmi

Everything is white and still. No bird is singing, and no wind rustles the needles of the spruces along the path. The only sound is a low humming of a motor and an occasional clank. Someone is felling trees further away, but the trees don’t cry when they fall. Nature is quiet, it is preparing for a storm. Soon I get far enough from the human sounds to be immersed in the peaceful stillness.

The storm Valtteri, which is called Malik in the rest of the Europe, hit Finland yesterday afternoon. But there was time for a nice 10km walk in the morning before the snow started to fall. There was too much snow in the woods to walk comfortably off trails, but too little for snowshoeing, so we chose to follow proper trails.

Salmi Outdoor Recrational Area

Salmi is a recreation area in Vihti. It is also called the Nuuksio Northern Gate as it is located on the very north side of the Nuuksio National Park. I’ve been going there with school and kindergarten since I was little, and it is an easy drive from my parents’ house. From Helsinki you can take a bus and get there in an hour or so.

Tapiontaival – bear and a god

Salmi has several nice walking trails that are well kept and easy to walk on. The trails vary from two kilometers to ten kilometers. We walked the longest one, Tapiontaival – Tapio’s Tour.

Tapio is the god of the forest according to the Finnish folklore. So it is no surprise that the trail goes through the forest where tall spruces, beeches and birches grow. In winter the snowflakes cling on to the branches that stretch over the path creating white arches. 

Tapio is also one of the many nicknames for a bear and in theory it would be possible to come across a bear on the trail. Bears have spread to the whole of Finland, excluding Åland, and are not considered endangered. However, the statistics of Luonnonvarakeskus show that most bears live in the east and in the South the sightings are much rarer. I have never seen a bear, but it is very possible that a bear has seen me.

Fire and hot juice

The trail is well marked with green plaques and crossroads have clear signs. It is a good loop for skiing as skiing tracks follow the path all the way, but we chose to walk this time.

At the halfway point, we stop at the campfire site by the snow covered Pikku-Parikas lake. The smell of smoke reaches us before we see the shelter. There is fire in the firepit, but no people to be seen. Little flames and ribbons of smoke are a lovely sight in wintery scenery. We dig out our thermos of hot juice and take a breather.

Before we continue, we add a few more logs to the dying fire in case someone else shows up after us. It is quite unlikely as it seems like most people are already nesting in their houses in case the storm will be rough. 

As we get closer to the car, the wind starts to pick up. It will get stronger in the following hours, and the next morning, there will be even more snow on the ground and the forest will be even more quiet than today.  

Quick Look

  • What: Tapiontaival walking trail
  • Where: Salmi Outdoor Recrational Area, Southern Finland
  • How long: About 10 km
  • When: All year round
  • Why: Nice and easy trail in the woods, fireplaces and lakes along the way. 
  • Note: In winter there are also skiing tracks along the way


S. Heikkinen, i. Kojola and s. Mäntyniemi. (2021) Karhukanta Suomessa 2020.  Luonnonvarakeskus. Available at:

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