Nature Sites on Via Karelia
Via Karelia is a feast for nature lovers. En route you can find fine cultural sights, untouched wilderness, short and longer hiking routes and nature trails, water routes and lake sceneries, and observation towers for birdwatching and enjoying the view from above.
Via Karelia runs some 750km from the Gulf of Finland to southern parts of Lapland, representing a cross-section of different natural and cultural characteristics.
North of Lappeenranta, Via Karelia runs along the route of the watershed between Finland and Russia, and the land becomes less inhabited and more rugged, the upper north you travel.
The change of seasons, too, has it's own rhythm. The winter lasts one or two months longer in the north, stealing time from the summer. Days are of different lengths as well. In the Midsummer, north of the Arctic Circle in Salla, the sun shines through the night, and fails to show at all around Christmas time, even though there's a lighter period of five hours daily.
Even though Midsummer Night is still light in the south, sun goes down for about five hours. On Christmas Day, the sun barely comes above the horizon for about the same time.
You have chosen a route that has plenty to offer. Take your time and stop for a while, and take in the beauty of nature manifesting itself in so many ways. Open your heart to the beauty of nature.
Nature sites on map
List of nature sites
The south end of the route is at Mikkolanniemi Activity Centre, east shore of lake Rautjärvi, and it ends at Papinniemi Camping Area, by Pyhäjärvi, in Uukuniemi church village.
From Mikkolanniemi, the hiking route continues as “Mikkiksen tarinapolku” trail. First, there’s a Lapp hut, and at the other end of the trail at Virtsalampi pond, there’s a lean-to close to the road, where the actual route runs.
The Herajärvi Trail is a round-trip trail, starting from the peak of Ukko-Koli. The trail runs partly in the Koli National Park. The trail goes around lake Herajärvi, on the south side of Koli. Marked in blue, the trail is a demanding one because of great differences in height.Read more
The Kalliojärvi round-trip trail in Pyhäselkä goes around Suuri Kalliojärvi, on the bottom of a ravine. The route has forest trails, duckboards, uphill ad downhill and steep cliffs without safety rails. You need to be careful with children also in the campfire site, where the shoreline quickly drops to the lake.Read more
Taitajan taival is a Hiking Trail starting from the Petkeljärvi National Park and running to Mekrijärvi village north of Ilomantsi, and more specifically to Sissola, the home of folklore singer Simana Sissonen. The trail does not enter the Ilomantsi village, but there’s a connecting path (8km) to Ilomantsi at Hirsijärvi lean-to.Read more
Kurkela is the go-to place in Finland, if you’re after black stork, black kite and greater spotted eagle, all nesting on the other side of the border. The tower is a great place for observing the migration of Arctic waterfowl, and especially in autumn, that of the birds of prey.Read more
The Nature Trail winds its way in a primaeval forest, partly on lichen-covered cliffs, partly in lush mixed forest. Differences in altitude are significant. The route visits a pond and then goes up a cliff. There’s a lean-to on the Kalliolampi cliff. If you need water, you need to fetch it from the pond below.Read more
Friendship Park is a network of nature conservation areas established in the Kuhmo and Suomussalmi region. It has five Nature Reserves, each independently presented in this site. On Via Karelia,…Read more
At its best during the autumn migration, the tower is well worth visiting also in the spring. The tower is a good place for spotting birds of prey and Arctic waterfowl. Located on a hill, the tower overlooks the Gulf of Finland and Vilkkiläntura.Read more
There’s a vast network of hiking trails around the Joutseno population centre. Many trails run in the vicinity of Myllymäki ski centre. One trail runs via Hinkanranta, following the shoreline of Saimaa to the Imatra Spa. Another branch takes you via Kähärilä village to Soskua floodgate, the Saimaa Canal.Read more