Views from the Peaks of Koli
Many of the sights in Koli National Park require a hill climb, as the breathtaking views from the peaks are the best in Koli. The view opening up from Ukko-Koli Hill to Lake Pielinen is one of the most famous national landscapes in Finland. The peak of Ukko-Koli is 354 metres above sea level and 253 metres above the surface of Lake Pielinen. The Koli peaks are the southernmost summit areas in Finland where loads of crown snow accumulates. From a projecting quartz rock on Paha-Koli Hill, you will see Lake Pielinen behind the Kolinuuro Gorge. From Akka-Koli Hill you can admire the lake scenery on both sides of the Koli hill ridge, where Vesivaara Hill, famous for its views, looms southernmost. Below the Akka-Koli lookout point you will find the Temple of Silence, a popular site for wedding ceremonies. There are also views from the Mäkrävaara, Paimenenvaara, Pieni-Koli, Jauholanvaara and Hirvivaara Hills that are worth the climb.
Clearings and Cultural Landscapes
There are rare traditional clearing environments at Koli. The flora in Mäkränaho, Purolanaho, Ikolanaho, Havukanaho and Mustanniityt is representative and charmingly beautiful when in bloom. In addition, the clearings of Vaaralanaho, Turusenautio, Soikkeli, Ylä-Murhi and Ala-Murhi, sheltered by hill forests, are also amongst the most valuable clearings in Koli National Park. Remains of settlements, such as stone bases and turnip storage pits, can be found in several of these clearings. The most active cultural environments can be found at Ollila, Turula, Vaarala, Mattila and Lakkala. These are managed by cattle grazing, slashing and burning, and mowing.
Native Cattle Breeds at the Ollila Farm
In summer Eastern Finncattle graze behind the fences. Other native cattle may also move around the pastures: Northern or Western Finncattle, Finnsheep and Grey Finnsheep. The cattle carry out valuable nature management work keeping the landscape open. Elsewhere in the national park sheep are also grazing at the Lakkala, Mattila (www.kolinkeidas.com) and Seppälä farms.
The rippling Tarhapuro Waterfall in the middle of a lush herb-rich forest is a refreshing sight. The waterfall is at its most handsome in spring when the snow is melting. On a winter hike you can explore the waterfall's smooth, icy surface. The Tarhapuron polku Trail starts out from Rantatie Road.
Old-Growth and Herb-Rich Forests
On the Kaskenkierros Nature Trail, on the slopes of Ipatti Hill, you may be surprised by the size of the spruce (Picea abies) and aspen (Populus tremula). The forest has not been cut for a century. There is decaying wood on the terrain offering habitats for rare insects, mosses and polypores. There are lush forests on the hill slopes with a large diversity of flora. Various large grass plants, ferns, mosses and orchids thrive in the moist, nutrient-rich environment. The easiest way to explore the herb-rich forests is to take the Paimenenpolku Trail (the "Shepherd's Trail").
Koli Is One Single Geological Sight
Amongst the geological entities that clearly stand out in the landscape are the Kolinuuro Gorge right below the Koli peaks and the Hiekkasaaret esker chain on Lake Pielinen. To counterbalance the steep quartzite cliffs of the Koli peaks, smooth sandy beaches open out onto the shores of Rykiniemi. Amongst the individual landmarks are the Mäkrä rock, transported by ice to the summit of Mäkrävaara Hill, the Pirunkirkko ("Devil's Church") boulder cave, and the ancient sea bottom visible on a rock with ripple marks along the Ikolanaho Trail.
Historical Sights, Art and Stories
Koli National Park offers information, culture and other services in several different settings that are all worth experiencing. Koli Nature Centre Ukko, winner of an architecture competition, represents modern architecture. In addition to providing the national park's information services, Ukko Nature Centre also houses changing exhibitions. Besides this, there are other varying exhibitions (www.koli.fi) at different destinations in Koli throughout the year.
The yard containing red buildings in the centre of Koli village belongs to Café Kolin Ryynänen, which also provides accommodation in the old granaries in summer. In addition to the café, Kolin Ryynänen also houses exhibition premises and an artists' residence upstairs that is maintained by Kolin kulttuuriseura, i.e., the local art association (www.taike.fi), as well as the Koli local history museum (www.kolinkotiseutuyhdistys.fi, in Finnish) at the corner of the yard. There is a café and a restaurant at Koli harbour's new Alamaja, which resembles the old Alamaja. There is a café and small-scale accommodation at the manor-like Mattila (www.kolinkeidas.com). When staying overnight at one of the national park's rental huts, you may actually find yourself in an old loggers' cabin or small holding on a hill slope.
An ancient sacrificial site, is a story telling place protected by the Antiquities Act. There is a crack in middle of the rock that has been filled with coins thrown there over the course of the last century. Uhrihalkema is connected with Annikki's story, often told at the site, where the girl sacrifices riches to the crack's earth spirit in order to regain her fortune. There are several signatures in the Uhrihalkeama rock cut by Finnish artists inspired by Karelianism in the 20th century. Uhrihalkeama is located at the northern end of the Koli hotel building.
(Devil's Church) is a 33-metre-long Z-shaped boulder cave to which several mystical stories are connected. Pirunkirkko is located along Rantatie Road, 12 km south of Koli. There is a path with many steps from the parking area (located by the road) to the cave. It is easy to turn off from the Herajärven kierros Trail to Pirunkirkko along the Ennallistajan polku Trail (Nature Restoration Trail). Eero Järnefelt, a famous Finnish artist, once visited Pirunkirkko and wrote a poem on its wall: "one secret, one spirit,
happiness for both
is this church
its holiness I remember forever"
As far as we know, the Sataman polku Nature Trail ("Koli Harbour Nature Trail") is the oldest marked nature trail in Finland. At Koli harbour, there is an erratic boulder with writing cut into it. This boulder has functioned as the first signpost on the trail leading to Ukko-Koli Hill. The trail runs past the remains of the old Alamaja, which was amongst the first enterprises at Koli offering restaurant and accommodation services.
Sights in the Surrounding Area
From the Ryläys Hill lookout point (located along the Herajärven kierros Trail), great views open out onto Koli National Park's hills and Lake Pielinen which gleams out from behind them. There are handsome scree stones that look like a stream of rock on the hill slope a short distance to the south of the lookout point. There is a Lapp ‘kota' hut and a campfire site close to the lookout point. The walking distance from the closest parking area at Jero to Ryläys Hill is about 2.4 km.
Räsävaara Observation Tower
The Räsävaara observation tower is only 18 metres high, but its location on the hilltop raises the lookout point to more than 300 metres above sea level. The view to the south from the tower is dominated by Koli National Park's hills and Lake Herajärvi. The opposite shore of Lake Pielinen as well as the Kelvänsaari and Hattusaari Islands are clearly visible to the east. When looking to the north, you will see Paalasmaa, the largest island in Lake Pielinen. There is forest landscape to the west, where you may see some of the more distant lakes, such as Lake Höytiäinen, in good weather. There are signposts from Kolintie Road to Räsävaara Hill. There is a 3-km drive from Kolintie Road to the parking areas and to the Räsävaara lean-to shelter. The walking distance along the trail from the parking area to the foot of the observation tower is a couple of hundred metres.
Other Sights in the Area
- Koli village
- The Finnish Stone Centre
- The ice road on Lake Pielinen