photo: Antti Huttunen
In the past few years, I’ve made a habit of bringing my cross-country skis with me when I’m travelling for work during the winter season. There’s no better way to end your day than heading out for a ski; you get fit and you get to clear your mind too. The result of all this skiing is that I’m now officially very well acquainted with ski trails up and down the country. Jyväskylä obviously has a reputation as a bit of a winter sports paradise, but even then I was blown away by what’s on offer here.
Once you’ve been bitten by the ski bug, there’s no cure. Typical symptoms include increased fitness and an irresistible urge to cover longer and longer distances. And this is where the Jyväskylä trail network comes in. The city has a number of outdoor multi-sport parks. The trails connect them all, creating a comprehensive network capable of delivering challenging and advanced routes for cross-country and ski touring without skiiers having to orbit endlessly around the same loop. All in all, the 15 parks provide 150 kilometers of trail. Depending on the weather conditions, these are complemented with up to 140 km of additional “ice trails” that take in some of the local lakes.
Jyväskylä’s legendary Laajavuori Park is home to ski jump towers, downhill pistes and a waterpark and spa, but many people specifically seek it out for cross-country skiing – the extensive network of trails has something for everyone from beginners to more advanced skiers alike. There are some steep hills to contend with and tranquil pine forests to enjoy. Vuorenlenkki is an intermediate trail covering five kilometers, while the 1.8-kilometre long Lammenlenkki is perfect for kids. At 8 km, Kuntolatu is the ideal choice for people looking for something longer but easy going.
Another perfect spot for a great day out on the loipe is the Ladun maja area, in Taka-Keljo by Lake Kolmisoppinen. You enter the trail through some vast spruce trees and from there on you’re surrounded by the forest. It’s hard to believe that the centre of Jyväskylä is just 15 minutes away. The Majan 10 and Majan 20 forest trails have been designed for skiers who prefer the traditional technique, while there’s also a skate skiing trail over to Kolmisoppinen and onwards to Mustalampi. Hit the flow state? You can add another 5 k to your trip by heading out towards Kotalampi.
At Halssila, you’ll find a choice of easy-going and well-lit trails over 4, 6 and 9 kilometres that are suitable for both the traditional and skating style. Halssila also has two laavu shelters that are perfect for taking a break. If you’ve done all the trails and feel like you need more, you can hit the more extensive network to the south of the city that will keep you busy for several evenings.
The Savonmäen ulkoilualue trails offer plenty of choice for skiers looking for a longer intermediate outing. You can choose from anything between 3 and 10 kilometres, and there are plenty of climbs and descents to keep things interesting. The tracks stick to the lower reaches of Savonmäki Hill so you won’t be expected to climb the larger of the two hills you see as you’re approaching the city.
If you have your sights set on a full-day’s ski tour or even an overnighter, Metsoreitti is your ideal choice whether you’re planning to snuggle up in a bed or bed down under canvas for the night. This trail links the Jyväskylä and Laukaa trails creating a vast network for you to explore. During the winter season, the trails are all flood-lit too. You can access the Metsoreitti trails from the Halssila hiihtomaa via the Ampujien maja hut. There’s also a connecting trail at Touruvuori.
As well as these longer trails, Jyväskylä also has some local trails that offer an accessible way to do some XC if you find yourself in the area or just fancy a change of scenery. Touruvuori has three trails covering different distances. For shorter distances, your best bet is to head to Sippulanniemi or Keljonkangas.
Antti Huttunen is a Finnish TV host and founder of the Retkipaikka travel blog. He’s passionate about discovering new and interesting places.
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