Petkeljärvi National Park
Level: (* * *) Three bears
The Petkeljärvi National Park in Ilomantsi is the smallest one in Finland, but it’s packed with the best examples of ridges, pine heaths and lakeside nature. The park area has never been a battle site, even though there are old trenches and a restored dugout. Nearby Oinassalmi and Möhkö, however, have seen battles during the Winter War and the Continuation War.
The National Park area encompasses beautiful pine forests, enlivened by steep ridges and kettles. The Korkeasärkkä ridge, pointing deep into a lake, is the greatest of the local ridges. The narrow and steep ridge meets water on both sides, and divides lakes Valkia and Kaitajärvi, joining lake Petkeljärvi, almost into two separate lakes.
These ridges are part of a long stretch of ridges starting from Koitere, near the Patvinsuo National Park, towards south-east, all the way to Russia. All the timber in the park area was logged in the 19th century, but trees have since grown without human intervention. The majority of the park forests now consist of beautiful, 150-200 year-old pine trees.
Beavers, however, still fell a tree every now and then. They are the most prominent mammals in the park area. Black-throated divers can often be seen on the lake Petkeljärvi in summertime, and the bird has lent its name to many local place names and the park emblem.
Other place names in the area are a reminicent of local history and hunting culture since prehistorical times: Petraniemi, Kokkolahti, Hirvenleuat, Joutenjärvi, Kuikkalampi, Lohisalmi and Tetrijärvi. ‘Petra’ means forest reindeer, ‘kokko’ is an eagle, ‘jouten’ means swan and ‘tetri’ is a black grouse.
The park was founded during the second wave of establishing National Parks in 1956. The area was protected from all land and forest use already in 1933, and the borders of the National Park actually date back to 1864. An old map of the park area from that particular year names the area as ”Crown surplus land in Petkeljärvi”. This piece of land, left over from in the general parcelling out is exactly the same as the park area today. – This may be changing, however: There are plans to extend the National Park to the Natura 2000 area of Petkeljärvi – Putkelanharju, north of the current Park area. The extension would be as large as 34 km2, multiplying the Park area.
The Park has two round trip trails, and the Korkeasärkkä ridge is well worth visiting. It is recommended to walk the trails clockwise. The routes on the north-western side of the Park give more options. All trails are marked with orange dots of paint. The markings are clearly visible.
The Harjupolku trail measures 3.5 km. You can add a visit to the Korkeasärkkä ridge to double the trip to seven kilometres. Harjupolku travels through easy terrain, whereas Korkeasärkkä is slightly rockier.
The round trip trail “Kuikan kierros” is 6.5 km long. Its main sights include many ridges, pine heaths and lake shores.
The Park area has dedicated campfire sites on Petraniemi only. Camping, indoor accommodation and cafe/restaurant services are available in Petraniemi. Free of charge services include a nature exhibition, a roofed campfire site, a swimming quay and a water well.
The planned extension has a lean-to, “Keltasilmän laavu” on the Taitajan Taipale route, near the current northern border of the Park.
The Petraniemi camping site is the starting point to the 31 km long Taitajan Taival hiking route. The trail ends at Mekrijärvi village, north of Ilomantsi.
At winter, the road to Petraniemi parking area is generally accessible. The area has no ready-made skiing trails, but the terrain is perfect for touring skis or snow shoes.
Petkeljärvi in a Nutshell
Ilomantsi, North Karelia
Area 6 km2
Founded in 1956
Book by Jouni Laaksonen: Retkeilijän kansallispuistot, Edita 2011
From Via Karelia(500), take the road to Möhkö (5004) on the south side of Ilomantsi. Follow the signs from this road to the Petkeljärvi road. The Petraniemi camping site is at the end of the road, address: Petkeljärventie 61. The camping centre is open only in summertime. Telephone: 041 436 1790.
Petkeljärvi Nature Information Hut
Tel. 041 436 1790