Natural Features of Lauhanvuori National Park
The top of Lauhanvuori Hill, at 231 metres, rises about 100 metres above the surrounding lowlands. That is why this region is sometimes called the Lapland of Western Finland. The hill top is about one square kilometre in size, and it emerged approximately 10,000 years ago when the continental glacier receded from the area. The top of the hill was originally a lone island in the middle of the vast and ancient Baltic Sea.
Waves, ice and wind shaped the slopes of the mountain rising from the water. This created shoreline terraces, erosion banks and gullies made by running water. The best-known formations are probably the barren stone deposits of the ancient shoreline. These boulder fields, which can be over a hundred metres long and dozens of metres wide, were a source of amazement in the old days. It was believed that only giants could build such stone walls.
The significant geological formations and diverse mires in the area are an important feature in the region’s application to become part of UNESCO’s international Geopark network. Unesco Global Geopark (unesco.org).
At the foot of the hill, barren bogs formed in the depressions on mineral soils. With just a thin layer of turf, they give Lauhanvuori Hill its individual appearance. In the spring, the mire is full of noises made by the Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and the Common Crane (Grus grus). The cackling of the Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus) can also be heard.
The stunted pines (Pinus sylvestris) on the barren lower slopes are covered with lichen. This is a habitat for northern species, such as the Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla), and the Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) which usually spends summers in the north, but lives at Lauhanvuori also during the summer. There you can also hear the Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) singing, and in the summer nights the churring of the European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus). An interesting plant is the Yellow Bird's nest (Monotropa hypopitys) , which decorates the slopes in the autumn. This non-chlorophyllous plant receives nutrients from the roots of the pines.
The top of Lauhanvuori Hill is dominated by deciduous trees.
The hill top remained above water and therefore retained its nutrients and loose soil after the Ice Age. This is why the hill top is fertile while the lower slopes, where the soil was washed away by water, are quite barren. The vegetation on top of the hill is more luxuriant, with plenty of deciduous trees and spruce. The Moose (Alces alces) eats the top leaves of the Aspen (Populus tremula) and the Rowan (Sorbus) saplings. In lush places grow the Wood Crane's-bill (Geranium sylvaticum), the Chickweed Wintergreen (Trientalis europaea), the Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) and the Mountain Melick (Melica nutans) .
The location of Lauhanvuori at the Suomenselkä watershed region can be seen in the vegetation; both southern and northern species are found there.
Family spruce trees need space to grow
So-called family spruces are common, especially on the southern side of Lauhanvuori Hill. In the middle there is the mother spruce, the branches of which have become rooted in the ground, forming like a family around the mother tree. These rare spruce formations can usually be seen on sunny slopes, where there is lots of space for the spruce to grow a family around itself.
Quick moving stoats live on the slopes of Lauhavuori and a lucky hiker can spot one on the trails or in the camping site’s wood storage. Stoats mainly hunt small rodents, but will also catch small birds, insects, molluscs and frogs for food.
The Lauhanvuori Hill, being 100 metres higher than its surroundings, stops the rain fronts, which is why it rains at Lauhanvuori more than in the surrounding areas. Rain water is quickly absorbed into the layers of ancient sandstone. The rainwater goes deep down into the groundwater. Lauhanvuori forms plenty of groundwater, and therefore the water resources of the area are excellent.
On the lower hillsides the groundwater come close to the surface, and shows up as beautiful springs and brooks. Peräkorpi Spring is located along the trail from the Kivijata boulder field to Lake Spitaalijärvi. The surroundings of the springs and brooks are like oases in the middle of the dry rugged environment. The vegetation includes several rare spring and mire species. In the clean spring-fed brooks lives the Brown Trout (Salmo trutta fario), which hides in the shadows of the bank when you walk by on the duckboards.
An extensive layer of sandstone bedrock is the heart of Lauhanvuori Hill. The sandstone can be traced back to sediment from the Cambrian period – 500 million years ago. This fragile stone material may have been preserved so well at Lauhanvuori because it contains a lot of quartz and the impacts of the Ice Age were very gentle in the Lauhanvuori area. The sandstone can be seen very well on Lauhanvuori’s ancient shoreline, which is made up of boulders broken off the sandstone bedrock.
Tors are stone formations created as a result of rock weathering and they can be found all over the world. The Lauhanvuori tors were formed from granite bedrock between 70 and 20 million years ago. The best-known tor is the Aumakivi, which is located near the southwest edge of the park. The weathering process is particularly strong in a hot and humid climate. Such a climate prevailed in Finland several tens of millions of years ago. The granite of the Aumakivi is 1,900 million years old.
Lauhanvuori National Park
- Established 1982
- Area 59 km²
The Emblem of Lauhanvuori National Park is Stoat