The Hervantajärvi recreational area is located, as the name suggests, in Hervanta, and you can conveniently reach the area by using Nysse, the Tampere regional public transport, either by tram or bus. For those arriving by car, there are parking facilities available on Vanha Hervannantie, Salmenkalliontie, and Partinkatu.
The Hervantajärvi area also includes the Makkarajärvi-Viitastenperä nature conservation area, which was decided to be protected in 2018 by the Pirkanmaa ELY Centre. The goal in this area is to preserve old forests, wetlands, the unique characteristics of the rocky terrain, and its diverse flora and fauna. Some of the oldest pine and spruce trees in the forest have been allowed to grow for over a hundred years!
In addition to the rugged cliffs, you can spot various fungi in the area, with up to 60 different species having been found here. Furthermore, the area is home to the red-throated diver, a species of regional concern, as its population in Finland has been declining.
In the tram, heading to the starting point
‘Hervantajärvi,’echoes through the tram’s speakers as the tram arrives at the terminal stop. I step out and in front of me, I see a forest, and apartment buildings on my left. A local convenience store has recently opened in the area, where I could replenish my provisions if needed. However, this time, I’ve already acquired them well in advance and packed them in containers making them easy to enjoy. I head in the direction of the apartment buildings, following alongside the adjacent playground. The sound of hammers can be heard, and I notice that many new residential buildings are emerging in the neighbourhood.
I begin walking along Hantanraitti towards the edge of the forest, where there are signs directing to, among other places, Makkarajärvi. Makkarajärvi is conveniently close if you want to reach a campfire spot as quickly as possible, as it’s only about 500 meters from the edge of the woods. The hiking trail to Hervantajärvi is marked with yellow triangles, so I start following those. At the Makkarajärvi campfire spot, there’s an open fireplace, a shelter, and a dry toilet. By the lake, there’s also a jetty and a set of steps, making it easy to take a swim.
Towards Viitastenperä’s lean-to
After walking some distance, the trail transforms into boardwalks. I arrive at a junction of boardwalks, where a sign indicates that to the left, one can reach the Makkarajärvi campfire site, while to the right, the path continues towards the Viitastenperä lean-to. The boardwalks wind along the edge of Makkarajärvi until the trail leads deeper into the forest. Soon, I notice myself ascending Makkarajärvi Hill.
Stairs have been built along the trails to both facilitate hikers and to prevent environmental damage. The stairs are sturdy, making them safe to use even in winter. The path continues straight ahead, and before long, I reach a T-junction. A guidepost informs me that Viitastenperä lean-to is ahead, so I continue my journey in that direction. The terrain varies, with rolling hills to traverse. Sweat beads tingle on my forehead, and I find myself panting as I climb a steep slope upwards.
The Viitastenperä lean-to blends into the landscape
I haven’t seen anything quite like the Viitastenperä lean-to before. It seamlessly blends into the landscape and has a shape reminiscent of a turf hut. At Viitastenperä, there’s a dry toilet and a woodshed. Inside the shed, there’s an axe for splitting wood. From the lean-to, there’s a magnificent view of the lake. As I light the campfire, I notice something darting on the other side of the fire. Soon, the same creature flashes by a second and third time. I believe it’s a shrew trying to find food beneath the thick layer of snow.
With the fire crackling and the wood a bit damp, I want to confirm my suspicion and search for information about the shrew. Based on the pictures, it seems my guess was correct.
Leaving along the ice
Skiers pass by the Viitastenperä lean-to, and a few of them stop there. From people’s conversations, it’s evident that the lean-to is considered a pleasant and popular hiking destination. The popularity of hiking skyrocketed during the pandemic, and outdoor activities have become a part of everyday life for more and more people.
I leave the fire in the care of the next hiker and start walking on the ice of Lake Hervanta towards Hervanta Beach. I encounter more skiers and walkers along the way. Half an hour later, I reach my destination and head to the tram stop at Lake Hervanta, a bit tired but happy.