The State Forest Management Centre will open a hiking trail in Hiiu County full of attractions 06.09

The State Forest Management Centre’s (RMK) popular Peraküla-Aegviidu-Ähijärve hiking trail has now made it to the western Estonian islands – the 234-kilometre-long Hiiu County strand on the Heltermaa-Ristna-Sarve route will open today and has plenty for everyone to discover.

The hiking trail begins at Heltermaa harbour and runs through Hiiu County’s forests, villages and coasts, ultimately making it back to Heltermaa in a big circle.

“What makes Hiiu County’s strand so special is the fact that there are many different places to visit near the hiking trail that are unusual both in Estonia and globally,” said Andre Kaur, the RMK Visitor Management Department’s Nature Trails Specialist. “For example, you can see the only cliff terrace in Hiiu County, Kallaste cliff, you can climb the oldest lighthouse in the world, Kõpu, discover Estonia’s largest sand dune in Kaibaldi or admire Kõpu’s tall wooded sand dunes, which are sometimes even taller than treetops. The hiking trail also runs through Kassari island, which is accessible by crossing the sea on one side of the island – in the summer during calm weather you can cross it without getting your feet wet, otherwise it is a good idea to put on your rain boots as the water can reach up to your knees.”

Those whose legs are tired of hiking can take a soothing swim or a pit stop on the quiet and golden sandy beaches of either Tahkuna peninsula or Kõpu peninsula, or stay for longer at one of 19 RMK rest stops where a person can warm themselves by the fire or spend night in a tent. Additionally, the State Forest Management Centre’s Hiiu County Visitor Centre will be situated near the new hiking trail, where they will provide information about recreational opportunities in the region. In the process of developing the hiking trail, brand new campsites named Remmelko and Ränkaja were created, which now wait for their first camp fires to be lit.

Hiiu County’s strand is primarily for hikers on foot, because many of its beautiful locations are sadly not accessible via bicycle. The trail also passes through 12 protected areas, and some parts of the trail do not permit vehicles or bicycles for nature conservation purposes.

The trail is marked with white-green-white colour coding, kilometre posts and signposts. You can get detailed trail maps and information about recreational activities in the forest from the Hiiu County Visitor Centre, from the ‘Loodusega koos’ app and on the website.

Further information:
Andre Kaur
Nature Trails Specialist at the RMK Visitor Management Department
+372 5626 1767

Sites of interest at the Hiiu County strand of the State Forest Management Centre’s hiking trail:

Kallaste cliff is the only cliff terrace in Hiiu County. There are a number of well-known cliff terraces on the mainland as well as in Saaremaa, but there is only one for the people of Hiiu County – Kallaste cliff.

Tahkuna and Kõpu beaches are private, beautiful and unique in every season.

The defensive structures of Tahkuna and Ristna have made it through both World Wars. You can see the coastal defences of Hiiesaare, Tahkuna and Ristna (artillery, fire control towers, radar hills and command bunkers). Hiiu County is an island with a storied military past, having been located on the western fringes of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, and having also served an entrance for ships into the Gulf of Finland. As a consequence, Hiiu County had a number of coastal fortifications built at various periods, some traces of which can still be observed in the scenery.

Kõpu, Tahkuna and Ristna’s lighthouses are significant landmarks of Hiiu County as observed from the sea. Kõpu lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on the Baltic Sea, and presumably one of the oldest in the entire world.

Kõpu’s wooded sand dunes were still open and exposed to sea breezes a hundred years ago. A forest was planted on top of the sand dunes in the 20th century in order to secure the dunes and curtail sandstorms. The trail traverses along high sand dune ridges in several locations, some of which can rise higher than the treetops.

Kaibaldi sand dune is Estonia’s largest sand dune. The open sand area of approximately 12 hectares developed as a result of forest fires during the Second World War and being used as a training ground for tanks later on.

Määvli bog is the largest treeless bog in the middle of Hiiu County.

A sea crossing through Õunaku bay is a unique experience. The hiking trail runs through Kassari island into Hiiu County via a narrow strait called Õunaku bay. In quiet weather during the summer, you can pass through it without getting your feet wet, otherwise you should put on your rain boots as the water can reach up to your knees.

Kassari island provides the opportunity to discover unique scenery and local culture native to a small island.

The Sarve-Heltermaa alvars are at the end of the hiking trail, some in the beginning as well. These are the largest alvars in Estonia, where you can see various orchids and other rare species growing.