The Kemeri Bog Trail: Latvia’s beautiful bogs

The Kemeri bog trail is one of the many hiking trails in Latvia. Latvia is a land of incredible nature with forests, wetlands and bogs. Kemeri Bog is located in Kemeri National Park in Latvia. More specifically, it is situated near the town of Jurmala, which is on the western coast of Latvia along the Gulf of Riga.

Kemeri National Park is only 1 hour away from Riga and the Kemeri Bog trail is an easy hike of 3.5 kilometers. This makes it one of the best day trips and nature getaways from the capital.

Kemeri bog trail
Kemeri bog trail

Kemeri bog in Latvia

Bogs cover about 10% of Latvia’s land and are among the oldest landscapes in the country. 

They formed 10000 years ago in the last ice age when glacial melt water collected in depressions. Dead plant materials accumulated into layers of peat and developed into mires and bogs.

The current wet climate and flat terrain in Latvia is perfect for bogs. Historically, bogs have been drained for agricultural purposes or peat extraction. Due to conservation efforts in recent years, bogs are now again growing larger, despite the fragile ecosystem. 

Kemeri Bog and Climate Change

The conservation efforts in Latvia to protect the bogs is in part because of their important role in preventing climate change and water regulation.

We know, for example, that bogs act as carbon sinks. They store large amounts of carbon in the form of dead plant material that accumulates over centuries. The water in the bogs slow down the decomposition of organic matter, leading to the accumulation of carbon in the soil.

Bogs also act as natural sponges, absorbing and holding water. This helps regulate water flow, reducing the risk of flooding and storing water during dry periods.

Kemeri Bog Wildlife

The bog’s unique wetland ecosystem supports diverse wildlife and is therefore home to a variety of unique plant and animal species. Plants are adapted to the acidic and waterlogged conditions with lots of mosses and lichens, like sundews and cotton grass.

While large mammals are less common, bogs are rich in insects and birds. Kemeri Bog is therefore a great place for birdwatching.

To make the bogs accessible for visitors there are a number of well marked trails in the country. Most use boardwalks so you can see this unique landscape without damaging the nature.

Kemeri bog trail
Kemeri bog

Why visit the Kemeri bog

Kemeri bog is not the only bog you can visit in Latvia. But Latvia’s remote national parks do mean that many bogs are difficult to get to, especially if you don’t have your own car.

Kemeri bog is one of the few that you can reach by public transport from Riga. For me, choosing to hike the Kemeri bog was thus a practical decision more than anything else. The same reasons why I choose to hike the Viru bog trail in Estonia.

Kemeri being so close to Riga it is the perfect day trip and nature getaway. Because of its easy accessibility, Kemeri bog is also one of the most popular bog trails in Latvia.

In weekends and high season the trail can be crowded and it is not necessarily the quiet and peaceful experience you might expect.

I visited Kemeri bog during the week in winter so there weren’t that many people. It was a cold day and there was still some snow and ice on the trail. 

The Kemeri bog is not only easy to access, but also unique in Latvia. It is a so-called raised bog. Underneath are sulphurous mineral waters that come to the surface in a number of springs. The water and mud are believed to have healing properties.

Kemeri bog trail
Kemeri bog in winter

The Kemeri bog trail

The Kemeri bog trail is thus an easy way to get to see the bogs of Latvia as an independent budget traveller. There is no need of having your own car or going on an expensive tour.

The Kemeri bog trail is an easy and worthwhile day trip from Rigs. The full Kemeri bog trail is 10.5 kilometers. With a lunch break in between it took me about 3 hours to hike from start to finish. 

Step 1: Getting to the start of Kemeri bog trail.

To get to the start of the Kemeri bog trail without your own car, it is easiest to get there by train from Riga. You should take the train to Tukums I or Tukums II. The journey takes about 50 minutes and you should get out at Kemeri station.

From there it is 3.5 kilometers to the start of the boardwalk. You should cross the railway and enter the forest for a bit. After crossing the highway it is a nice and gentle walk through the forest.

Kemeri station
Kemeri train station

Step 2: Hiking to Kemeri bog watchtower

The actual Kemeri bog trail starts at a parking lot where you can park your car. There is also a small information office and toilets in case you need them. 

You continue a little bit through the forest and soon enough you will enter the boardwalk into the open bog landscape.

After about 500 meters there is a junction where you can choose a short option (1.5 kilometers) or a longer option (3.5 kilometers). I can recommend the longer option, because you will be able to visit the Kemeri bog watchtower for beautiful views

Kemeri bog trail
Kemeri bog watchtower

Step 3: Kemeri bog

The Kemeri bog observation tower offers beautiful views over the lakes of the bogs. It is also a great place for birdwatching as migratory birds, such as geese and cranes, are often passing by.

The Kemeri bog watchtower is about midway. From here it is another 1.7 kilometers on the boardwalk. There are frequent benches where you can take a rest

Kemeri bog trail
Having a break

Step 4: Back to Kemeri station

The Boardwalk is a loop and ends back at the parking lot. Without your own car it is 3.5 kilometers to the station. It is the same way back as you came

Kemeri bog trail
Kemeri bog board walk

Kemeri bog travel tips

Where to stay

There are no hotels or guesthouses near Kemeri Bog. It is best to stay in Riga

Budget dormitories: Riga’s old town has a number of cheap backpacker hostels to stay for less than 15 Euro’s per night in a dormitory. Hostels that are centrally located with good reviews are Tree house, Blue bird hostel and Cinnamon Sally

Budget rooms: If you prefer a private room, Hotel Saida is not far from the centre and has good budget rooms.

Midrange Appartments: If you stay for a longer period of time I would suggest staying in one of the plenty appartments that are on offer in Riga. Green garden and Barona residence are near the center of Riga and have good reviews.

Where to eat

There are no places to eat in or near the Kemeri bog so bring enough drinking water and food with you.

Riga’s central market near the train station is an excellent place to stock up on snacks and foods for a picnic lunch. I can recommend a fresh Uzbek tandoor bread and Samsa from the Registan bakery.  

When to visit

There is no wrong time to visit the Kemeri bog and it makes for a great day trip any time of the year. Basically every season has its own charm.

Spring (April to June): Spring is a great time to visit Kemeri Bog as nature awakens from winter. During this time, you can witness the bog coming to life with the emergence of new plant growth and the return of migratory birds. The weather is generally mild, and the bog is not as crowded as it can be in the summer.

Summer (July to August): Summer is the peak tourist season. The weather is typically warm and dry. However, it can be crowded during this time, so if you prefer a quieter experience, try visiting in the early morning or late afternoon.

Autumn (September to November): Autumn brings a beautiful transformation to Kemeri Bog as the surrounding trees change color. The fall foliage is stunning, and the bog takes on a different character. It’s also a great time for birdwatching as some species migrate through the area.

Winter (December to February): Winter offers a unique experience in Kemeri Bog, especially if you enjoy snow-covered landscapes. I did the Kemeri bog trail in winter and I thought it was very beautiful. There was some snow and the bogs were frozen. In short, it was a very cold, but also a magical winter wonderland. When you visit in winter I can recommend to dress warm and bring a thermos of tea.

Kemeri bog trail
Kemeri bog in winter

What to pack

Sturdy shoes: because most of the walk is on board walks there is no need for professional hiking boots. The trail is flat and easy. In winter I was happy with my waterproof hiking boots though.

Mosquito repellent: Not an issue in winter, but in summer there will be lots of mosquitoes at Kemeri bog. Bring a strong mosquito repellent. 

Sunscreen: once you are in the bogs there is little shade. Use enough sunscreen on a sunny day, even in winter. 

Sustainable travel to Kemeri Bog

Latvia’s national parks and Kemeri bog do not charge any entrance fees. Like in many Scandinavian countries, such as Swedish Lapland, there is free access to nature. You are free to wander in the forests and bogs and pick berries and mushrooms as you like.

The bogs are fragile though. Traveling sustainably to Kemeri Bog is essential to minimize your environmental impact and preserve the area’s natural beauty for future generations.

Leave no trace principle: When hiking the Kemeri bog trail stick to the boardwalks and don’t go off them to prevent damaging the ecosystem.

I encourage you to take all your trash back with you and dispose of it responsibly. In other words, leave no trace of your visit. Even better is when you bring something to pick up any of the trash that other people left behind.

To avoid single-use plastics, invest in reusable items. For example, you can bring your own water bottle with a filter.

Bog shoes: It is possible to walk through the bogs with bog shoes, but only do this on a guided tour. The guide will know where you can go without disturbing nature.

DisclaimerThis post about the Kemeri bog train in Latvia contains affiliate links. If you buy any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me to keep Backpack Adventures alive! Thanks for your support!

3 thoughts on “The Kemeri Bog Trail: Latvia’s beautiful bogs”

  • Hi Ellis. I was wondering about ypur experience doing the kemeri bog trail in winter.. How was the condition of the trail? Was it slippery? I am thinking of doing the trail in winter too. Only I would go alone. Was wondering if this is wise to do. Thank you. Sincerely, Sylvia.

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