Moscow is one of the greenest megacities in the world. Even within the Moscow Ring Road (MKAD) there are lots of spots where you can spend time with nature. For example, the Losiny Ostrov National Park where visitors often see elks in their natural habitat. The most beautiful places of specially protected natural areas are carefully landscaped, in order not to harm the environment. These places provide people in Moscow with an opportunity to leisurely stroll through a wood or a marshy river valley and take in nature and marvel at its virtually pristine condition. 11 eco-trails have just opened in Moscow, so all together there are now 14.
Serebryany Bor: Reed swamp and Lemeshev oak
One of the most popular places among people in Moscow is Serebryany Bor. Its attraction lies not only in the sandy beaches, bays, pines and volleyball courts but here you can also find forest berries, owls, songbirds, hares, weasels, stoats plus of course, the main inhabitants in this area – the squirrels.
There are two eco-trails in the pine wood. The first passes around the Bezdonnoye Lake, along the Kopan pond and Moscow’s largest reed swamp. The 1.2-kilometre-long eco-trail can be used all year round. You can also catch a glimpse of pheasants as well as small flocks of domestic geese around Beach No. 2.
The second trail which is called In Harmony with Nature also starts near the Bezdonnoye Lake, but then it goes deep into the pine wood, and after that — along the shoreline of a man-made island. On the opposite shore there is the Troitse-Lykovo estate and the Baroque-style Trinity Church.
One more place of interest is the Lemeshev oak named after the opera singer Sergei Lemeshev. Serebryany Bor was one of his favourite places to go when he had time. It will take you over three hours to walk through the whole wood!
Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo Park: Khimka River and beaver lodges
One of the most beautiful examples of nature in Moscow is the Khimka River valley. It is located in the north-east of the natural and historical Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo Park. The 1.3-kilometre-long eco-trail starts at the Tsarevna Lebed spring and then passes along a river. The wooden planks make walking easy and quite comfortable, you can see numerous birds and observe beaver lodges. You can find information on all the park’s inhabitants – animals and birds – on the information stands.
Troparyovsky Reserve: Coniferous wood and cowslips
The Troparyovsky Nature Reserve opens a 2.7-kilometre-long eco-trail which passes through a wood. There are special zones called Wood Inhabitants, Birch Wood, Coniferous Wood, Troparyovo Spring and Wooded Stream Natural Monument. The trail starts at 64 Akademika Anokhina Street and finishes across from 64 Troparyovsky Street. You can take a general eco-trail sightseeing tour or themed tours called Moscow’s Winter Birds, and Cowslips.
Biryulyovo Arboretum: Health trail
Biryulyovo Arboretum is a favourite place when it comes to recreation among people in the south and the south-east of Moscow. There is a health trail set up along the Biryulyovo stream. There are two verandas overlooking the Bolshoi Pond, the stream and a shore covered with a pine wood. You can find information on the plants growing near the pond on the information stands. The trail is also suitable for people with disabilities. The entrances to the trail are located across from Pedagogicheskaya Street, and on the Lipetskaya Street (22, Block 2).
Kuzminki-Lyublino Park: Along unknown paths
Along Unknown Paths is an eco-trail at the nature and historical Kuzminki-Lyublino Park. People going there are taught how to differentiate between various types of trees and they learn new things about plants, birds as well as animals which they can find in the park. The guided tour for children includes quest tasks. The trail is equipped with benches, log furniture, arbours, information stands, bird and squirrel feeders.
Tushino Park: Alyoshkinsky forest trail
The 2.3-kilometer-long Alyoshkinsky wood eco-trail at the nature and historу Tushino Park goes along the Vesenneye Lake, a playground and a sports field, and a monument to aviators. There are also information stands. Moreover, you can enroll for classes and guided tours. The trail is accessible for low-mobility people. The route begins at 18 Vilis Lacis Street near a playground.
Kurkino: Red List animals and wild orchids
In the Northwestern Administrative Area there is the River Skhodnya Valley in the Kurkino Nature Reserve. The natural park stretches 5.5 kilometres along the river. Its flora includes over 700 plant species. 37 of them, as well as 80 species of animals inhabiting the reserve are included in the Red List of Moscow. Here, you can also find the largest population of wild orchids in the city. You can get to the reserve by bus from Skhodnenskaya and Planernaya metro stations.
There are three eco-trails equipped within the park’s territory.
The first one is the 1.6-kilometre-long Kurkino Circle in the Kurkinskaya Poima (Floodplain). It starts at the Our Lady of Vladimir Church, then goes along the floodplain’s slope to a meadow, and then descends down to the Kurkinskoye motorway. Then it follows along the Skhodnya River, passes a fisherman’s bridge and a spring and rises through the wood to the monument to the Kurkino citizens, heroes of the Great Patriotic War. The trail is equipped with recreation areas, viewing points, benches and rubbish bins. The trail starts at 37 Novogorskaya Street.
The second trail which is 2.4 kilometres long goes through the Zakharyinskaya Poima (Floodplain). It is the continuation of the first route. The trail starts near the spring, and then follows along a steep slope, passing the Skhodnya River shore, a wood, and a viewing point where you can observe birds. You can enter the trail from Landyshevaya Street. Only part of the eco-trail is recommended for people with disabilities.
Along the Mashkinsky stream you can find the third trail measuring 2.6 kilometres. It starts near the Mashkinskoye motorway, turns to the pond, and goes along the edge of a steep slope into the depth of the Mashkinsky ravine. The route crosses a challenging peace of terrain: you need either to ascend or to descend the whole time. The trail is equipped with a viewing point, several recreation areas, an arbour and a place suitable for picnics. There is a guided tour along the trail called The Ringing of the Mashkinsky Stream. The hike takes about one hour. The trail starts at 31 Sokolovo-Meshcherskaya Street.
Tyoply Stan: Moscow’s highest point
The Tyoply Stan Landscape Nature Reserve has its own eco-trail called At the River Sources. It includes 11 parts with a few stops. There are ravines and creeks, the Ochakovka River valley, the Kholodny spring, and there’s a stop at the Tyoply Stan Highland. This is Moscow’s highest point. The length of the trail is 4.2 kilometres. There are benches on the way for those who might want to take a break. The trail starts across from 7 Tyoply Stan Street, and ends near 2 Akademika Bakuleva Street.
Bitsa Forest: Apiary, rock garden and apothecary garden
Bitsa Forest Nature and History Park is one of Moscow’s largest green areas. The silence, springs, recreation places and comfortable arbours — this is what Bitsa is like. You can read about the natural flora and fauna on the information stands.
There is a Touch the Nature eco-trail which is accessible to visually impaired people, but this does not mean that it is only they who’ll find it of great interest. The trail passes an apiary, cages with animals, an apothecary garden with medicinal plants, and a rock garden. There are Braille navigation stands. There are guided tours along the trail, including tours for people with disabilities. The hike takes one hour to complete. The trail starts at 1 Novoyasenevsky Tupik Street.
The other route is a historical eco-trail which starts at the same place as the first one. People will see a water shed of two rivers, a spring, study hydrology on the information stands, learn about the fauna, trees and herbs of the Bitsa Forest. There are benches and arbours enabling breaks on the way. There are guided tours for groups all year round about various topics: animal tracks, cowslips, bird calls, as well as botanical, and historical tours.
The eco-trail in the Bitsa River valley is fairly short – it’s only 600 metres long. It goes along the left river shore and through the natural monument called The Old Fir Wood in the Znamenskoye-Sadki Estate. Although not very long, the route has quite a lot to offer: there are 12 stops where the guide will tell you about such things, as, for example, the Bitsa River and its swamped floodplain with the sticky alder wood. Other stops are Black Older, Birds, Pedunculate Oak, Mushrooms — Faraway Kingdom, Linden and Rowanberry, Swamp and Moss, Mammals of the Bitsa River Valley, Forest Vegetation, Mixed Wood, and Fir Wood. A leisurely walk with sightseeing takes about 45 minutes.