Marka, the thick forest that surrounds Oslo, is just one of the giant pleasure parks in the area. You can also take a tram marked HOLMENKOLLEN from the city center to Oslomarka, a forested area where locals go for summer hikes and for winter skiing. The ride to the stop at Oslomarka takes only 20 minutes, and there are trains every 30 minutes or so, depending on the season. The area is dotted with about two dozen hytter (mountain huts) where you can seek refuge from the weather, if needed. Norske Turistforening, Storgata 3 (tel. 22-82-28-22), sells maps with the hiking paths and roads of the Oslomarka clearly delineated. It's open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm. Our favorite trail -- and you should have this pinpointed on a map -- is a signposted walk to Sognsvannet, which is a beautiful loch (lake) flanked by forested hills and encircled by an easy hiking trail stretching for 4km (2 1/2 miles). In winter, the loch is iced over; but, in summer, those with polar-bear blood can take a dip. Even in summer, swimming here is like taking a bath in ice water. In lieu of swimming, then, you might find the banks of this lake better suited for a picnic.

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