Eastern Finland, North Savo Region
Municipality of Rautavaara (www.rautavaara.fi, in Finnish)
Tiilikkajärvi National Park, Pumpulikirkko Natura 2000 Area (1998), Löytynsuo-Maamonsuo Nature 2000 Area (1998)
Virvatulten polku Trail, which is 19 km long, is located in North Savo in the municipality of Rautavaara and travels between Tiilikkajärvi National Park and Metsäkartano nature tourist centre. The trail was opened in the autumn of 2005. The name Virvatulet refers to blue flame-like patterns which seem to float atop mires. In olden times they were believed to be evil spirits. This mysterious light phenomenon appears when decaying plants become burning mire gases. Visitors hiking the trail can admire the vast expanses of mire landscape at Löytynsuo-Maamonsuo and wonder at the greatness of Pumpulikirkko giant's kettle nestled in old-growth forest.
Pumpulikirkko is a large giant's kettle open on one side. Visitors can get inside to the giants kettle to see the sheer cliff walls surrounding the open place on the bottom. Pumpulikirkko, which means cotton ball church, was probably named this because of the thick ice covering its walls in winter. In spring when the ice melts it looks like cottony clouds. The giant´s kettle itself looks like an altar room.
The trail is demanding, as it travels through rocky terrain. Snow remains far into the spring in hollows and gorges. The trail is open to the public when the ground is not frozen - from the end of May through to October when permanent snow falls.
Protected Areas are Part of the Natura 2000 Network
The Löytynsuo-Maamonsuo Natura 2000 area holds within it the smaller privately-owned Löytynsuo-Maamonsuo protected area. Both are owned by the forestry company Tornator Oy. The Pumpulikirkko Natura 2000 area is state-owned. Its heart is Pumpulikirkko old-growth forest reserve. Forestry is practised in some parts of Natura 2000 areas.
This is the web page www.nationalparks.fi/virvatultenpolkutrail