Activities in Koli National Park
Koli National Park offers majestic scenery and a range of activities, whether you are looking for physical challenges or peace and quiet. Koli has something for everyone!
Walk on Marked Trails
The stunning landscape alternates between clearings left behind by slash-and burn agriculture and areas of dense spruce forest. There are approximately 80 kilometres of marked routes to choose from depending on your physical fitness and the time available, and these can be explored with or without a guide. The area's famous views are best admired from a vantage point on top of the park's highest hill, Ukko-Koli. There is also a demanding accessible route (0.8 km) to the viewing platform from Koli Nature Centre Ukko. Kasken Kierros Nature Trail (2.5–5 km) is ideal for school children and families. The trail passes through slash-and-burn landscape typical of the area. Herajärvi Trail (30–61 km) is a challenging route across wooded hills, perfect for seasoned hikers looking for breathtaking views and the sound of bubbling brooks and birdsong. You can bring your own tent or spend the night in a lean-to shelter or a cabin. There is also a hotel for more luxurious overnight stays.
The best way to get around in the winter is snowshoeing (the park has 1.5–4 km of marked snowshoeing routes). Snowshoes are a better option than skis if you want to climb to the tops of hills or venture deep into the woods. Snowshoes can be hired at the park, and there are also guided snowshoeing tours available.
Downhill skiing is another great way to take in the scenery. Ukko-Koli is the biggest (230-m vertical drop) and most demanding ski resort in southern Finland and challenges even the most experienced skiers. Ukko-Koli has six slopes, which can be accessed from Koli Nature Centre Ukko and Break Sokos Hotel Koli. There is also a chairlift from the shores of Lake Pielinen to the top of Ukko-Koli, and it is worth going up to admire the views even if you do not want to ski.
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Koli is on horseback. The park has three bridleways, and some sections of the routes can be used throughout the year. Good destinations for riders include Paimenenvaara hill and old farmyards that can be found scattered around the park. Guided riding tours are available for beginners and inexperienced riders. Options range from lead-rein sessions lasting a few hours to two-day riding excursions.
- Skiing: Skiers can choose between an easy (3 km) and a more challenging (7 km) trail. There are more than 50 kilometres of maintained ski trails in the park, which are suitable for both classic cross-country skiing and skate skiing. If you are looking to go deeper into the wilderness, there is a lit trail (22 km) along the edges of the National Park. For a longer excursion, you can bring your own tent or spend the night in a lean-to shelter.
- Hook and line fishing and ice fishing are allowed under everyman's rights, except where specific restrictions apply.
- Persons aged 18-64 years must pay the fisheries management fee (eräluvat.fi). If you fish with more than one rod, you also need Metsähallitus' angling permit no 7413 for Southern Finland (eräluvat.fi). Fishing permits are available from Metsähallitus' online shop (eraluvat.fi).
- For trap fishing (in National Park water area off Koli), in addition to paying the fisheries management fee, you will need Metsähallitus' trap fishing permit no 7003 for Lieksa (eräluvat.fi, in Finnish). Permits can also be purchased by phone at +358 (0)20 69 2424.
- Fishers need to check the restrictions on fishing sites at kalastusrajoitus.fi (In Finnish).
- Birdwatching: Koli is a great place for spotting species such as ospreys, red-flanked bluetails and lesser black-backed gulls.
- Nature Centre: Koli Nature Centre Ukko has all the information you need to decide where to go and what to do. Services available include exhibitions and films, a gift shop and a café as well as an accessible toilet.
- Nature trails: There park's three nature trails (2.5–5 km) are designed to teach visitors about the area's history of slash-and-burn agriculture, lush herb-rich forests and habitat restoration techniques. Several campfire sites are located along the trails.
- Pick berries and mushrooms: The park is not just a treat to the eyes; you can also indulge your taste buds with bilberries, lingonberries and raspberries as well as edible mushrooms.
- Canoeing and rowing: For canoeing and rowing, you have a choice between the vast expanses of Lake Pielinen and the long and narrow Lake Herajärvi. Canoes, kayaks and rowing boats can be hired at the park. There are campfire sites as well as lean-to shelters and cabins along the marked canoeing routes, or you can bring your own tent.
- Sights and scenery: The area's famous landscape is best admired from a viewing platform at the top of Ukko-Koli (347 m). The platform also has views across meadows and old farmyards.
- Sailing and boating: The islands of Lake Pielinen can be accessed by motorboat but there are no ramps or jetties. Services for boaters are available at Koli Marina.
- Cycling: Cyclist can use the park's private roads as well as marked cycle routes along the shores of Lake Herajärvi and Lake Jeronjärvi.
- Guided group tours: Information about guided tours of the nature centre and the park is available at Koli Nature Centre Ukko.
- Swimming: There are several sandy beaches on the islands and along the shores of Lake Pielinen. The best swimming opportunity is at Koli Marina but there is no official swimming spot in the National Park.
- Voluntary work: Options for volunteer work at the park include herding sheep, clearing forest by the traditional slash-and-burn method and contributing to the maintenance of the park in other ways.