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Nature Reserves

Explore the Wild in Nature Reserves and Recreation Areas

Nature Reserves have been established to maintain representative areas, large enough to support wildlife, of all current nature types in Finland. Nearly all Nature Reserves are also meant for public visiting. Near the Road of Poem and Border, the Ulvinsalo Strict Nature Reserve is only for research purposes.

The Road of Poem and Border runs mostly in farmland and cultural landscape, and further north in commercial forests, where parts are cut down and there are forests of different ages. If you want to experience age-old eastern Finnish nature, there will be many opportunities, if only you have time. There are forty different Reserve areas on the route.

You can take any of these on your list, and you'll be amazed how many faces the eastern Finnish nature has. Obviously, all these sites cannot be seen during a single trip, not even an entire summer. The nature in Eastern Finland is far too rich and multi-faceted.

The seven National Parks along Via Karelia have perhaps the greatest sights, but not a single one of the Reserves has been established for nothing. Each and every site has unique characteristics, worth knowing beforehand. You may find just the perfect for you. In National Parks, the trails may be a bit crowded at times, but in some Reserve areas you will hardly meet anybody. However, you're more likely to bump into another human than into one of Finnish apex predators. They all avoid humans, making them a bad excuse for staying away.

Many Nature Reserves allow over-night stays. For casual campers, a place for a tent, a lean-to, a Lapp hut or an open wilderness hut will be ok. If you need more services, you can opt for a nearby camping site or rented accommodation.

In addition to National Parks, the list includes other Reserves, hiking areas and recreation areas. The reserve status of the area is not important. More important is to find an interesting destination.

We have assigned the areas to different levels. The most versatile sites get three bears. Hiking areas that also have commercial forests, get two bears. Two bear areas can have many attractions, too. If an area has been assigned only one bear, it doesn't mean the area is not worth visiting. There may be only one main attraction, but it can be top notch. Anther reason for a one bear status is that there may be fewer or no services, and camping there means you need to know what you're doing.

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Nature Reserves on map

List of Nature Reserves


Level: (* * ) Two bears The Valtavaara Nature Reserve is located north-east of the Rukatunturi fell. One of the highest in Kuusamo, the hill is a bounty for nature…

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Kylmäluoma Hiking Area

Level: (* *) two bears Founded in 1979, the relatively large Kylmäluoma Hiking Area is in Taivalkoski, by main road 5, about 45km south of Kuusamo. The terrain is mainly…

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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…

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Säynäjäsuo – Matalasuo Mire Reserve

Level: (* *) two bears The area is one of the largest swamp areas in Kainuu, with very diversified bird species. Lake Säynäjärvi and smaller ponds add variety. The area…

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Koitajoki Nature Reserve

Level: (* *) two bears Koitajoki Nature reserve, east of Hattuvaara village nearby the border zone, is an excellent hiking site for wilderness lovers. The Koitajoki River runs calmly through…

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Näränkä Natural Forests

Level: (*) one bear Näränkä Nature Forest in Kuusamo has pristine nature that is unique in Finland and the entire western Europe. In addition to forests, the small bodies of…

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Tuntsa Wilderness Area

Level: (* * *) Three bears Tuntsa Wilderness Area is wonderful for hiking because of its easy to travel terrain and because the area is easy to navigate. Some say…

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Sallatunturi Fell Area

Level: (* *) two bears The Sallatunturi Area, south of the Salla village, on both sides of Via Karelia (950), has many types of nature reserves, encompassing open string bogs,…

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Raesärkät Trail

Level (*) One bear Raesärkät in Nurmes is a lovely spot for a day-trip in a scenery of rolling ridges. The area has been named after a narrow stretch of…

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Änäkäinen Recreational Area

Level: (* *) two bears The Änäkäinen area in Lieksa has recreational fishing grounds surrounded by forests. Trees are logged only moderately and respecting the recreational values. The area is…

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Juortanansalo – Lapinsuo Mire Reserve

Level: (* *) two bears The Juortanansalo – Lapinsuo Mire Reserve represents the real wilds of the Friendship Park. It is a genuine find for hikers, who love mires and…

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Oulanka National Park

Level: (* * *) Three bears The Oulanka National Park has two major attractions: the great rapids of Oulankajoki and Kitkajoki, and the Karhunkierros Trail. The Oulanka region is well-known…

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Ruunaa Nature Reserve

Level (*) One bear The Ruunaa Nature Reserve, right next to the Russian border, on the other side of the Ruunaa Hiking Area and the Lieksajoki river, is mainly untouched…

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Level: ( * ) one bear Ukonsärkkä in the very eastern part of Lieksa is perfect for a day trip. There’s a lovely ridge and old forests. Ukonsärkkä is a…

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Murhisalo Nature Reserve

Level: (* * ) Two bears Murhisalo has forever been the hunting and gathering grounds for Finland’s only White Karelian villages, Kuivajärvi and Hietajärvi. There are still signs of hunting…

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Patvinsuo National Park

Level: * * * (three bears) Have you ever wandered on a large swamp? It’s an experience worth having. The size of the Patvinsuo swamp makes its horizon look like…

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Lauttavaara Nature Study Forest

Level (*) One bear The Lauttavaara Nature Study Forest is used by Metsähallitus to give school groups and other visitors an insight into biodiversity and environmentally friendly forestry methods. You…

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Hiidenportti National Park

Level: (* * *) Three bears Hiidenportti National Park is situated between two water systems. The Park was established in 1982 to preserve the regional wilderness. The main attraction of…

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Pieni Ritojärvi Lake

Level: (*) one bear Pieni Ritojärvi lake is a lovely destination for a day trip. The round trip trail, Ritojärven kierto (5.2 km), is a nice way to see all…

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Peurajärvi Recreational Area

Level: (* *) two bears Peurajärvi is the go-to place for families. The area is small and quiet enough for a day-trip, but there’s enough to see and do to…

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Kolvananuuro Nature Reserve

Level: (**) Two bears Kolvananuuro is a magnificent gorge, millions of years old, between main road 6 from Joensuu to Kajaani and road 73 from Joensuu to Lieksa. The site…

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Koli National Park

Level: (* * *) Three bears The scenery over lake Pielinen from the top of Koli is one of the most Finnish sights you can imagine. The area is also…

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Elimyssalo Nature Reserve

Level: ( * * ) Two bears Close to the national border, east of Kuhmo, Elimyssalo is the home of the second coming of wild forest raindeer. The species had…

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Reposuo Area

Level: (*) one bear Reposuo is a valuable bird area and a mire conservation site by the Pankakoski village. It’s a great place for observing bird nesting habits and migrating…

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Teerisuo – Lososuo

Level: (* *) two bears Teerisuo – Lososuo Mire Reserve, south-west from Kuhmo is located by the road 5284 from Kuhmo to Valtimo. The area is a prime example of…

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Ruunaa Hiking Area

Level: (* *) two bears Ruunaa is best known for its rapids. The rapids on the Lieksanjoki river take you from Matkalahti to Ruunaa Nature Centre in Naarajoki over some…

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Level (*) One bear The Iivaara Natura area in south Kuusamo has age-old hunting and fishing grounds. More recently, hikers have started to become interested in the area. Iivaara’s nature…

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Hossa National Park

Level (* * ) two bears Hossa is one of the state’s hiking areas. It’s a great destination for hiking, skiing, canoeing and fishing. The forests are mainly easy and…

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The Friendship Park and the Friendship Nature Reserve

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,…

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Level: (*) one bear Recreational Forest of Jauhovaara is in south-western Kuhmo. Known as a vantage point, the peak of Jauhovaara is 253.2 metres above the sea level. The north…

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Lentua Nature Reserve

Level: (* *) two bears Lake Lentua is the largest unregulated lake in the basin of the Oulujoki river, and the most valuable example of lakeland nature in Kainuu. The…

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Level: (*) one bear Kieverrysjärvet is a recreational area in southern part of Kuhmo close to Via Karelia and where the Russian border reaches it’s most western spot. This is…

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Jämäsvaara Recreation Area

Level (*) One bear Almost the entire catchment area of Lake Jämäsjärvi at the centre of the Jämäsvaara area is in it’s natural state; no logging or ditching. On the…

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Martinselkonen Nature Reserve

Level: (* *) two bears Martinselkonen is a 6200 hectare nature reserve in Suomussalmi, close to the Russian border. Martinselkonen is a Natura area, and one of the most important…

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Mujejärvi Hiking Area

Level (* *) Two bears The Mujejärvi area in Nurmes is perfect for hikers after some peace and quiet. The area is close to Peurajärvi Recreational Area, but on the…

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Iso-Palonen – Maariansärkät Nature Reserve

Level: (* * ) Two bears The Iso-Palonen – Maariansärkät Nature Reserve is one of the five nature reserves of the Friendship Park in Kuhmo. Situated in eastern Kuhmo, the…

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Jonkerinsalo Nature Reserve

Level: (* *) two bears Jonkerinsalo Nature Reserve is in southern Kuhmo, on the western side of the canoeing route on the Jongunjoki river. The area is ruggedly beautiful, characterized…

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Level: ( * * *) three bears The Siikalahti wetland on lake Simpelejärvi is the most valuable bird wetland in inner Finland and an internationally appreciated site. In May and…

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Level: (*) one bear Kalmosärkkä in Suomussalmi, south-east of Juntusranta village, is a prehistorical settlement. Kalmosärkkä is protected by the Finnish Heritage Agency and maintained by Metsähallitus. The area is…

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