If you are looking for a nice day to spend in the nature close to Rīga or Jūrmala – Ķemeri National Park (LV: Ķemeru nacionālais parks) is a great choice. There is no entrance fee to the National Park and also all nature trails are free of charge. You can grab a thermos with a hot tea and sandwiches to arrange a picnic in the wild – many trails have nice stopovers with a wooden benches and tables. So, it will make your day healthy and budget friendly. All hikes can be easily found by using application Waze, Maps.me or Google maps.
The most popular trail in Ķemeri National Park is Great Ķemeri Bog Broadwalk (LV: Ķemeru tīreļa purva laipa). If you are coming with a car, parking will cost you 2 euros. Then there will be approximately 10-minute walk through a nice forest and you will reach the beginning of the trail. The short option is 1,5 km, but long one – 3, 7 km. I’d suggest the longest option because it has viewing tower so you can have a great view from an elevated perspective over the unique surroundings. All trail is made of wooden planks, it’s convenient to walk, but be careful in wet and icy conditions – wood can be slippery. This trail is beautiful but also well-known so be ready to meet many other explorers, especially in summer time and weekends.
There are plenty of options in Ķemeri National Park is you are looking for a trail just for yourself. This article would suggest three of them – they are close nearby, short and easy to walk, so can be done in a half day.
Sulfur Pond Trail (LV: Ragavu purva sēra dīķi) is located in Raganu purvs (Witches bog) and it’s nearly 2,5 km long (both directions) – all trail is made from wooden planks. At the beginning the area is relatively dry and rich with small marsh pines, colorful cranberries and cloudberry leaves, and no sulfur smell at all. But when you arrive at a place where underground springs form neat ponds, the smell is there! But it is not particularly intrusive and does not prevent you from enjoying the water color, which is unusual for Latvian nature, the surrounding mosses are also bright red, giving the landscape a special outlook. There is a small loop at the end of the trail where the ponds can be seen from different angles.
Lake Kaņieris Castle mound trail (LV: Kaņiera pilskalna taka) is approximately 2 km long loop trail. It begins in the woods and soon you have the feeling that you are in the realm of gnomes, dragons and harpies. The wet forest is beautiful in its wildness – fallen tree trunks, root monsters and the ornamental green moss. After a short walk, the trail leads to the more open place and the poster explains that you are looking at a calcareous fen – a rare wetland type. Due to the significant amount of calcium in the soil, special plants are growing here like Saw-sedge or Bird’s- eye Primrose. Soon you will reach a bird watching tower where you can take a look over the lake Kaņieris. At the bottom of the tower there is a beautiful bench for a lunch. Then the trail again leads into the forest with caves near the tree trunks, so it’s a bit spooky feeling – someone definitely is living there.
Lake Kaņieris Reed trail (LV: Kaņiera niedrāja taka) can be hiked in a loop what makes it almost 3 km long; walking the same route back and forward will save you few hundred meters. So, you can leave the car at the edge of the road near the sign “Bird Watching Tower” (Putnu vērošanas tornis) and follow the road through a deciduous forest, at the end of which the landscape will change rapidly. The lush and bright juniper stands stand out against the backdrop of yellow reeds, but for even greater beauty, the area is decorated with sumptuous stones. The juniper is not only beautiful because of the look – many branches are filled with dark blue and fragrant berries! The Bird’s Tower offers views of the Lake Kaņieris as well as information about some of the nearly 200 species of birds that are found around here. The reed trail starts near the watching tower and it is built on the floating pontoons – so it allows folks to walk on the water surface. Walking in the reed field is really adorable, but in areas where the railing is missing, you need to look more closely at what is happening under your feet. Some birds are flying nearby and the shallow water of the lake is full of smaller and bigger fish. When you are back on the ground again, you have two options. One is to continue to walk forward and reach the Latvian State Forest Boat Base – this part of the route is a bit ghostly. After the Boat Base follow the bigger road and you will reach the road where your car is – turn right and walk for approximately 1 km. Other option is to go back on a pond trail and return the same way you came here. Usually I prefer loop trail but in this case my suggestion would be the 2nd option.
These are not the only trails in the neighborhood. My goal was a slow and peaceful walks, so I chose these short routes, but right next door is the Green Dune, which promises 11km of adventure and other options. In any case, Ķemeri National Park trails offer great variety, and the sea just around the corner – a wonderful place for nature enjoyment, which is suitable for different physical abilities!