Autumnal nature attracts hikers with its colours, smells and produce. Autumn is indeed a great time for many types of excursions. Bird watchers dig out their binoculars and head for the best spots for the autumn migration. The self-sufficient set off to pick berries and stock their freezers for the winter. Mushroom enthusiasts cannot stay away from the forest, and star gazers are stimulated by the ever darker nights. Autumn also has a great deal to offer for those who simply enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. Why not go camping for the weekend, enjoy the crisp mornings and marvel over the signs of approaching winter? Rather than being a grim time of the year, autumn comes across as a fascinating and natural part of the yearly cycle when observed from the bosom of nature.
Autumn is a Time for Goodbyes
When autumn comes, thousands upon thousands of birds set off on their annual migration towards warmer climes in the south. Leaving implies the promise of return, as indeed autumn hints at the promise of spring.
The autumn migration of birds reaches its peak in September. Bogs, wetlands, coasts, meadows and forest edges offer the species planning to take off not only food but also sufficiently open terrain to observe any predators that might be stalking them. Such areas are ideal places for watching migratory birds! Bird watchers gather around to admire the majestic V formations of cranes, count birds of prey, or even spot new species.
Anyone can go birdwatching. A less experienced bird enthusiast will bring a bird book along or go out with a group led by an expert guide. Local ornithological societies (www.birdlife.fi) around Finland offer opportunities for heading out with more experienced birdwatchers.
Splendid opportunities for watching the autumn migration are on offer in some of the national parks, hiking areas and other state conservation areas as well as in the Kvarken Archipelago World Heritage Site. The Destination search provides a handy way of finding the best places for birdwatching. You may also be rewarded by an early morning stroll to your nearest fields and forest edges – you don’t always need to go very far!
Gifts oh the Autumn forest: Berries, Mushrooms and a Good mood
When you approach autumnal nature with an open mind, you will find plenty to admire and marvel over. Numerous studies indicate that even a short visit to a natural environment will boost your mood and improve your psychological wellbeing. An autumnal excursion could thus be the perfect cure for those who tend to feel down when the light and warmth of summer retreat. While autumn is about letting go, we also get something in return.
Autumn brings a riot of colours. This display varies in different years and different parts of Finland. The autumn colours are associated with reduced light levels and a drop in the average daily temperatures. Red, orange and yellow pigments take over as green chlorophyll breaks down and is absorbed deeper into the tree's trunk and roots. At best, the autumn colours of low shrubs in Lapland are like a colourful painting! In the south, autumn colours are more typically seen higher up in the trees. Some years the rowans are heavy with berries. In a good year for autumn colours, you should take your lunch break on the shores of a river or a lake and admire the glorious colours reflected on the water.
Nature is more generous in autumn than at any other time of the year. Picking berries and mushrooms is not only excellent everyday exercise but also one of the best ways of sourcing authentic local food for your table.
Signposted hiking routes and nature trails are ideal for autumn excursions. To find interesting trails and new destinations, visit the web services Nationalparks.fi and Excursionmap.fi. While picking berries and mushrooms is part of everyman's rights, rules that restrict this activity may apply in protected areas.
Check list for an Autumn excursion
Following short, well-marked trails requires no specific skill or equipment. The evenings are closing in and the daylight hours available for hikers are shorter in autumn. Consequently, it is a good idea to bring a head torch in case the dusk catches you by surprise. The temperature may also drop quickly in the evening, so your rucksack should contain not only your picnic and sit pad but also warm extra clothing selected to match the weather. The best way to protect yourself against deer flies is wearing a hood or a mosquito net.
Forest and grass fire warnings are less of a worry in autumn than in summer, but a responsible hiker always checks the situation before lighting fires.
Particular care should be taken when walking on ice in autumn. The snow-free first ice may be tough, but its strength is difficult to estimate. A smart hiker takes it easy when planning to step on ice and avoids unnecessary risks. In nature reserves, such as the national parks, you should pay attention to any areas with restricted access.
Any restrictions are posted on the Instructions and rules page of the destination, and they are also shown on the maps of the relevant areas. Respecting nature is vital when you enjoy outdoor exercise, so please remember the principle of litter-free hiking. Everything you bring out, you should also bring back in. Nature will thank you for it!
For berry pickers