Tyresta National Park is almost 5000 acres of virgin old-growth forest, right by Stockholm. It is surrounded by the Tyresta Nature Preserve to the north, east and south. I've thought about going there for about a year, but as it often is with most local attractions, the tourists go there a lot, the locals keep thinking "I'll go there someday".
1. The Visit
The visit can be split into roughtly three parts - the fun, the not so fun, and the boring part.
1.1. The Fun Part
I don't own a car, so public transportation was the only way for me to get to Tyresta. Fortunately one can take bus 834 from Handen, right by the commuter train station, to Tyresta By. Unfortunately, the last departure of bus 834 from Tyresta is at 1619 hours, meaning that you can forget about both shooting the sunset and having a comfy bus ride back home. This was a bit of a downer for me, but I figured that in the worst case, I would just walk back along the bus route until I reached a bus stop for some other bus line that could take me toward the city or a train station. (Having done some research now: Two kilometers west of Tyresta By is the Svartbäcken bus stop, from which buses go to Gullmarsplan until 2018 hours and Handen until 2357 hours. In both cases, you can travel on to Central Station.)
The weather was great, so I thought I'd try to catch some still, reflecting lake water. The nearest lakes were Bylsjön and Årsjön, at about a mile and a half and two miles. The walk there was pleasant on a wide and even gravel road. I stopped occasionally, but as you can see on the map, never ventured far from the road.
The only slight annoyance was when I tried to get close to the water at Bylsjön. Unless it was rock, anything closer than about ten meters from the water was bog.
1.2. The Not-So-Fun Part
Here we get to the "self inflicted misery" part of the trip. When I'd finished shooting at Bylsjön, I thought I'd hike north-east to Årsjön. Immediately upon reaching the north end of Bylsjön I reached a signpost in a three-way T-crossing. One set of arrows pointed along the right arm of the T, but the destination was not were I was going. Another pointed back along the stem of the T, from which I came. Obviously, that wasn't the right way either. Finally, the third set of signs pointed toward the top of the T and said "Årsjön". I briefly toyed with the idea that someone had turned the signpost ninety degrees. I was, as far as I could tell, standing in a three-way crossing, with a sign pointing the fourth way.
I checked the map, I checked the woods. It then dawned on me that the small opening and trail that led off into the forest was the trail leading toward Årsjön.
The first half hour was easy. It is easy to see the orange rings painted on trees to mark the trail while there's still daylight. At 1830 I reached the Årsjötjärnen (Lake År Tarns), and from there is the last image in the triplet above. Here I realized that there wasn't that much daylight left, and that I had to get out of the park or stay the night here. Getting out seemed preferable, as I had no camping equipment. I looked at the map of Tyresta, and there, just north of the park and on the edge of the surrounding nature preserve, I saw a familiar name: Högdalen. I have never been there, but I knew there was a subway station named Högdalen[b]. This was almost too good to be true: I may have missed the last bus, but I could just go to Högdalen and tube it back home.
Now, about that "almost" part... When I got home I looked at the subway map, and it turns out that there's more than one Högdalen in Stockholm, and the one I was thinking of is nowhere near Tyresta. A couple of doubts that I had should have clued me in on this:
Tyresta is well south of Tyresö, which in turn is well south of Skarpnäck. Skarpnäck is the south-easternmost subway station in the whole subway net. But maybe there was an offshoot from the middle-green line (you know what I mean if you look at the subway map) here.
Why would I go by commuter train to a bus to get to Tyresta, if I could just tube it to another entrance?
But none of that seemed very relevant at the time. Even if there was no subway station at Högdalen I was sure there were bus stops there. I would, therefore, not be worse off and perhaps even better off going to Högdalen than backtracking to the Tyresta By entrance.
So I decided to push on. The distance was about three kilometers, and I figured I could do that in well less than an hour.
Turned out things were a bit harder than that. The trail, when passing through dense forest, is easy to follow: There's only one way to go, and the trail is about half a foot lower than the surrounding ground. The problem comes when you hit campgrounds with multiple trails leading out from them, or parts where the surrounding forest is less dense. Then it isn't all that clear just what is trail and what isn't. You may end up following the wrong trail for a bit, or following something that looks like a trail but in fact isn't. The map on the left shows those times as little spurs. (A couple of times the track veers off by hundreds of meters - those are times when the GPS lost signal. What you see is the raw track log data from the GPS.)
In daylight you'd just look for the next trail marker. The bright orange bands can be seen very well in the mostly gray-green forest. At night... well, human night vision is monochrome, for a start, so the markers are slightly-brighter dark gray against dark gray - behind a clutter of branches and other trees.
Now, I knew I could just sit out the night. I was dressed warmly and had water. Worst-worst case, I'd just sit down on my ass and wait for eight hours. Worst case, I could use my GPS and backtrack to Tyresta By. But that's no fun.
My cellphone has a LED flash, or more accurately, a LED light. That became my flashlight as I, by now, was jogging through the forest. Note to readers - this is generally not a good idea. Unless you can sit out the night, you'll at the very least risk using up precious rescue resources that could have been used saving someone not too dumb to live.
I thought about making some long-exposure shots in the night, but my only attempt - at 60 seconds exposure - yielded a perfectly black frame. A quick look at the histogram told me that I would have to do at least ten-minute exposures to get something useful.
After about one hour of trail-following, and running a couple of circles around a poor German camper's tent trying to get back on the right tail, I popped out of the park near Högdalen.
1.3. The Outright Boring Part
Finally, Högdalen, the promised land. I started walking along the only road available. Since it went west I knew that I'd end up in civilization sooner or later, but as I walked and walked I began to wonder just how much later. If the trail hiking of the past hour was occasionally stressful due to having to find the trail again, this hour of walking along a single road (Bondgatan), that had no street numbers as far as I could see, was stressful in its utter boredom.
The first kilometer I thought I'd see the subway station real soon. Then I started looking for bus stops. Then just for something other than isolated houses. Eventually I reached Gudö and a bus stop. Fortunately the 806 and 807 buses go almost all night long from here to Gullmarsplan subway station, from which there's only an eight minute trip back home.
And that concludes my first adventure in Tyresta National Park.
Whenever I go hiking away from roads or built-up areas, and I know I will try to catch the sunset somewhere, I plan on maybe having to spend the night out. I've never had to, so far, but it feels good knowing I can.