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The extensive esker area of Hämeenkangas with its surrounding marshes is valuable with regard to its nature and flora and fauna. The landscape is dominated by eskers with pine forests and lichen full heaths. The lower terrain is a mix of raised bogs and spring-fed mires.
High ridges, slopes and flat heaths offer excellent hiking and exercise opportunities. At times, the paths ascend to sites with magnificent views to Lake Jämijärvi and far off to the surrounding woods.
Hämeenkangas is an exercise and multiuse area which was passed from the Ministry of Defence into the care of Metsähallitus in 2002. It is primarily an exercise area for the Finnish Defence Forces but hikers are also allowed to move about there. However, special areas with limited access set certain limits on recreational use. The majority of Hämeenkangas’ forests are production forests but the most representative sites with regard to their natural values have been declared nature conservation areas.
More information: http://www.luontoon.fi/page.asp?Section=13487
Among skiers, Vatulanharju is known as a place where there is always snow in the winter. When the first snow falls on Vatulanharju, it almost without exception stays there. Guaranteed skiing months are January–March. There are ski trails of various lengths for keep-fit and competitive skiers, as well as children.
Vatula provides ideal opportunities for exercising throughout the year. When the snow melts, the activities continue in the form of orienteering, hiking and group outdoor recreation and physical activity events.
Route: Ikaalinen Spa – Vatula Ski Centre (11 km)
The ski route from the ski lodge to the new goahti in Ulvaanharju and back is 10 kilometres. The terrain along this route is easy and even to ski. If you have the energy, you can continue for another 6 km all the way to the old airport of Hämeenkyrö. This way makes the overall distance covered on the ski lodge-airport-ski lodge route around 22 km. The terrain for the whole route remains easy to ski.
On the north side of the slalom slope an 11-kilometre hiking route to Vatula forks away from the spa’s illuminated four-kilometre jogging track. It is a part of the Pirkan Taival hiking route network. The Harjasjärven lean-to shelter is located half-way along the route, about five kilometres from the spa. The last three kilometres of the route follow the public road to Vatula in an undulating field and lake landscape. The route is signposted.
However, it is recommended that hikers purchase the Pirkanmaa outdoor and hiking map. More information can also be found in the Suomen Retkeilyopas (‘Hiking guide to Finland’) published by Edita.
The recreational centre is open by reservation.
Inquiries and reservations: Recreational centre, tel. +358 400 778 738/Seppä
Riuttaskorpi Recreational Forest
The Riuttaskorpi Recreational Forest is located approximately 15 kilometres north of the Kuru parish village, in between the highways leading to Parkano and Virrat. The area was established on Metsähallitus land in 1999. It is along the Pirkan Taival hiking route. The Keihäsjoki canoeing route also passes through the area.
The overall area of the Riuttaskorpi Recreational Forest is 1,640 hectares. Riuttaskorpi Recreational Forest is part of the peaceful backwoods in the Suomenselkä watershed area. There are many stories told about the area and these inspired, for example, Finland’s national poet J. L. Runeberg to write a story about a traveller’s vision in his The Tales of Ensign Stål.
Riuttaskorpi is best suited for a half-day or one-day hike. If you want to extend your hike, you can continue to either Seitseminen National Park or Helvetinjärvi National Park, which are both located nearby.
More information: http://www.luontoon.fi/page.asp?Section=13639
Pirkan Ura trail network
The Pirkan Taival trail network is located north of Tampere in north Pirkanmaa. Pirkan Taival trails set out from Kuru, Ruovesi, Virrat, Kihni, Parkano, Ikaalinen and Viljakkala towards the Seitseminen and Helvetinjärvi National Parks.
Pirkan Taival also continues north from Virrat to Ähtäri, partly going through Keuruu. There is a connection from Viljakkala southwards to Pirkan Ura (Tampere–Kankaanpää). The trails are part of the E6 Long Distance Path.
The overall length of Pirkan Taival is 350 km and there are approximately 30 lean-to shelters and camp fire sites along the trail. Moreover, the national parks and Riuttaskorpi Recreational Forest located between them offer numerous break facilities; not forgetting the private accommodation and service range.
During the winter, the area offers excellent skiing opportunities along ski touring trails for approximately 150 km.
Trails that are, as a rule, maintained in good skiing condition are:
Pirkan Ura (the route of the Pirkan Hiihto skiing event held in March:
The countryside in the area is varied. Virrat–Ruovesi–Kuru, including Helvetinjärvi National Park, is a forested area containing some very rugged rocky terrain broken by the abundant waterways including lakes and streams.
For its part, Kihniö-Parkano is part of the southern Suomenselkä region, which is characterised by abundant mire ecosystems.
Further to the south, on the Ikaalinen–Viljakkala–Hämeenkyrö axis, the landscape is further diversified by gently undulating fields and voluminous bodies of water as well as the lichen full heaths of Hämeenkangas.
Pirkanmaa outdoor and hiking map (2008) is a map on the area's trails, rest stops, accommodation and dining places etc. The map can be purchased at:
Ikaalisten Kylpyläkaupunki, tel. +358 3 450 1222
Municipalities' tourist information centres
Seitseminen National Park's visitor centre
Vihreä Sydän Matkailu, Kuninkaankatu 5, Tampere, tel. +358 3 223 7311