Stay on the trail – enjoy the outdoors responsibly

Helsinki offers plenty of opportunities for enjoying local nature at sea, in the forests and in other natural environments. However, the popularity of outdoor recreation has left its marks: littering has increased and nature has eroded even in nature reserves. On this page, you can find tips for enjoying nature and moving about on the trails in Helsinki responsibly.
Responsible hiking leaves no traces in nature. Photo: Raisa Ranta
Responsible hiking leaves no traces in nature. Photo: Raisa Ranta

Responsible hiking in Helsinki

Read our tips and instructions on how to hike responsibly, respecting nature and taking into account the special characteristics of the areas. Responsible hiking does not leave marks in nature!

Are you planning to heat up food at a campfire or erect a tent? Learning about the destination in advance will make the trip smoother and help you find suitable routes and available services. Browse the hiking tips and read about the nature destinations in Helsinki.

A woman taking pictures on her cell phone.
Photo: Jussi Hellsten

  • Popular recreation areas have a lot of users, which can lead to wear. Sensitive nature areas cannot withstand constant trampling, which is why visitors are requested to stay on the marked trails. As a result of trampling, vegetation disappears, paths widen and new paths may be created. The environment and the species change, and nature may not necessarily be restored to the way it was.
  • Wear may increase and paths widen even in a short period of time, as was observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, fences were built in the nature reserves of Pornaistenniemi and Kallahdenharju in order to protect nature outside the trails and allow the worn out areas to recover. Access control and various structures protect sensitive natural areas.
  • Staying on the marked trails and main paths is an easy way to protect nature.


A hiker walks by a sign that instructs visitors to stay on the marked path on duckboards in the Haltiala primeval forest.
Photo: Mira Lainiola

People moving about in nature have a huge responsibility for nature’s well-being, but luckily, responsible visits are easy.  When there are many visitors to nature areas, their responsibility is even greater. Then again, even one instance of careless fire-making, an illegal fire or a loose dog on a bird islet may cause immeasurable damage.

With these tips, you can enjoy Helsinki nature in a smart way

  • Only make a fire at the designated spots, cooking shelters and official fire-making sites. If necessary, bring firewood with you – do not take materials from nature.
  • When a warning for wildland fires or forest fires is in effect, you are only allowed to make a fire in the cooking shelters that have a flue, and with extreme care. When the warnings are in effect, we recommend enjoying food that does not require a fire. Check the current warnings on the website of the Finnish Meteorological Institute(Link leads to external service).
  • The rubbish bins in outdoor areas fill up quickly. You can hike without trash by packing your food in containers and thermos bottles at home. You can also prevent other people’s trash from spreading into nature by bringing your own trash bag.
  •  Always keep your pets on a lead. During bird nesting season, ensure that your pet cannot scare the birds or other animals or their young. Also keep a distance from the animals, yourself. Birds nest close to people’s routes in places such as Töölönlahti in Helsinki city centre.
  • Protect nature from wearing away – stay on the marked routes and trails.
  • Enjoy peaceful nature and protect its peace.
A tied dog in the woods with a walker.
Photo: Jussi Hellsten

Helsinki has about 130 kilometres of coastline and 300 islands. The Naturewisdom to the seas webpage instructs both seasoned sailors and new boaters to enjoy maritime Helsinki while paying attention to nature. About half of Helsinki’s nature reserves are located in the archipelago. Landing on some islands and bird islets is entirely forbidden during the nesting season (generally from 1 April to 15 August). You also need to keep a distance of 25–50 metres from these islets when moving about at sea.

The archipelago nature is sensitive to wearing and littering. You can easily protect the maritime nature destinations by learning about the routes and rules in advance. You can find tips for smart moving in the waters and the archipelago on our website.

Nature wisdom to the seas(Link leads to external service)

People canoeing on the sea among rocks.
Photo: Natura Viva

If you notice a fire in a natural area, always call the general emergency number 112. You can also reach the police and the boat police through the general emergency number, if necessary.

If you see someone landing on protected islands or moving about in protected bird waters during the summer season from 1 April to 15 August, please call 112. If you are unsure if someone’s actions are illegal, you can contact the nature supervisor (tel. +358 (0)50 364 9001) or the Environmental Services (customer service tel. +358 (0)9 310 22111) during office hours.

You can inform the City of Helsinki about illegal fire-making or littered cooking shelters via the feedback system(Link leads to external service). Open fires in nature reserves are always illegal and should be put out. In an emergency, please contact the police via the emergency number 112.

A pair of great crested grebe on a nest.
Photo: Eero Haapanen

Ensure peaceful nesting

Keep your distance from nesting birds, both along pathways and on the water. The Nature Conservation Act prohibits disturbing the nesting of all birds and damaging their nests.

Watch a video about peaceful nesting (in Finnish)(Link leads to external service)

Please consider the following in nature reserves

It is important that visitors to nature reserves know how to move about in the area responsibly. Read the instructions for moving about in nature reserves here.

The primary purpose of nature reserves is to protect local nature. This is why the use of nature reserves has been restricted by protection regulations. However, many nature reserves also serve as popular recreational areas.  Check on the map if your destination is within a nature reserve.(Link leads to external service). Click on an area to check the protection regulations issued by the conservation decision. The restrictions on nature reserves vary by area, but there are many common rules and recommendations.

  • The nature reserves in Helsinki are marked with green and white boundary markers as well as signs about the protection regulations. Some of the areas also have white paint markings on trees. The protection regulation signs state the rules specific to each area. These signs are like visiting instructions – read them first.
  • Making a fire, barbecuing and camping are forbidden in all nature reserves in Helsinki.
  • Animals and plants must not be harmed in nature reserves.
  • Collecting plants or parts of them is forbidden. Mushroom picking is usually allowed and berry picking sometimes, too. Check the area-specific protection regulations. Both mushroom picking and berry picking are prohibited in the following nature reserves: Östersundomin lintuvedet, Roosinmäki, Itäniityn laakso and Vantaanjoentörmä.
  • Always keep pets on a lead, like everywhere else in the city.
A hiker walks by a sign that instructs visitors to stay on the marked path on duckboards in the Haltiala primeval forest.
Photo: Mira Lainiola

  • Restriction of movement in nature reserves is based on the Nature Conservation Act. The purpose of the restrictions is to protect the species and habitat types.
  •  The protection regulations prohibit moving off the trails in part of the nature reserves.
  • Sensitive nature cannot withstand constant trampling and wear. The safest way is always to stay on the marked routes and main trails in nature reserves, even if this is not specifically required by the protection regulations.
Boundary marker of the nature reserve. Photo: Raisa Ranta
Boundary marker of the nature reserve. Photo: Raisa Ranta

  • The restriction of cycling in nature reserves is based on the preservation of natural values, preventing damage to vegetation. Cycling may be prohibited on specific grounds.
  • Cycling is not allowed in the following nature reserves: Pitkäkoski hillside groves, Haltiala primeval forest, Niskala arboretum, Ruutinkoski herb-rich forest, Vantaanjoki riverbank, Itäniityn laakso (except for Tonttuvuorentie), Kruunuvuorenlampi (except for Zatopekinsuora), Rastilan neva, Slåttmossen and Östersundomin lintuvedet.
  • Cycling in nature reserves is often restricted to marked routes. For example, it is not allowed to cycle off the marked routes and paths in the following nature reserves: Haltialanmetsä, Kallahdenharju, Kallahti seaside meadow, Särkkäniemi in Uutela, Mölylä, Jollaksen räme, Maununneva, Vikkulla-Kasaberget and Stansvik herb-rich forest and mine area.
  • On the acessible plank trail to Lammassaari, cycling is prohibited for safety reasons. This prohibition decision was made because the plank trail is considered a road in accordance with the Road Traffic Act.
  • Cycling is allowed in the Sipoonkorpi National Park. Metsähallitus requests that you stay on the paths and take other people into account. Familiarise yourself with the general rules for mountain bikers (in Finnish).(Link leads to external service)

Stay on the trail – outdoor recreation tips

Explore the trails in Kivinokka. See what wear looks like in a nature reserve and get easy tips for a responsible nature tour!

There are more and more users in Helsinki's nature areas. Visitors leave traces in nature. Soil erosion, illegal campfires and littering are also a problem in Helsinki's nature reserves. Fortunately, it is easy to protect nature also with your own choices. We visit the Kivinokka old forest reserve with experts.