I love walking. I think it’s one of the best ways of spending time outdoors and connecting with nature. And because of Mia, our lovely old pooch, we need to walk everyday! Hence, I am always on the lookout for new parks, forests and nature reserves that we can discover over the weekends. I have written extensively about day trips from Paris to forests such as Chantilly and Fontainbleau.
Having now moved to Sweden, I’ve come to realise that we are never far away from nature – Sweden is covered by 69% forest! Even a city like Stockholm is surrounded by green – there are almost 300 nature reserves around the greater Stockholm area, two national parks, one national city park and tons of lakes and water bodies where you can hike, camp, picnic and swim freely.
This weekend, we decided to head to the Tyresta National Park, located only 20kms from the centre of Stockholm. Established in 1993, this forest is known for its two-billion-year-old rocks and 300-year-old pine trees.
There are several entrances to the forest, however, only two can be reached via public transport – Tyresta by and Nyfors. To get to the other entrances – Brakmaren and Stensjödal, you will need to either drive or cycle. There is a large parking and visitor centre at Tyresta and I think it was the most convenient starting point for us as we were driving.
At each entrance, there are several trails of varying lengths to choose from. Each of them is clearly marked and there is little chance of you getting lost! So fear not and hike away.
Since we were starting from Tyresta, we could choose trails from 2.5 kms going upto 14 kms. The former basically suited for people with less time or those looking for a short walk whilst the latter, covering the lakes. I would have loved to do the 14kms but was out voted and had to content with the 5kms Hällmarksslingan loop instead!
The Hällmarksslingan trail starts right from the edge of the parking lot and is clearly marked with yellow markers throughout. The trail winds through old pines and moss covered land interspersed with stone mounds.
The first one kilometre or so was fairly busy and we crossed several other hikers but deeper into the forest, we found ourselves rather alone, in the quiet embrace of the trees. The tranquility and the wilderness is what I was looking forward to and I wasn’t disappointed.
If you know your berries and mushrooms, this makes for an ideal foraging trip too but picking flowers and wood are strictly forbidden.
Halfway through the trail, we decided to take a short sandwich break. There are several wind shelters and picnic spots along the trail which are replete with wood and fire pits. Fires are only allowed in these designated spots. We didn’t have any need for a fire but it was nice to see how well organised the rest stops were!
The trail does not take you to any of the lakes, however, the last segment of the trail passes very close to the Bylsjön lake (there are signs), and I highly recommend visiting the lake and walking around it as it’s beautiful. It’s only a small detour and will only add just about an extra 0.8kms to your hike.
Food & drink
Inside the forest there are no cafes or restaurants and it’s common practice to bring your own food & drinks, especially water. At the Tyresta entrance, there is a lovely farm cafe located in the Dahlgrensgården farm, which dates back to the 1700s! The cafe serves delectable salads, soups and pies to satiate you after a long and tiring hike. They can also make you a picnic basket to carry along on your hike. We ended our hike at the cafe with some coffee and cool drinks. Even Mia was glad for some nice cold water.
A short walk from the farm, is a farm shop that sells farm produce and meats. The meats can be grilled instantly at wood-fired grills provided just outside the shop.
We spent a lovely half-day at the forest and given the size of it and the different trails, I am sure we will be back there soon again. It will also be lovely to check it out in different seasons especially in autumn when the trees all change colour.