The white water rapids of Ruunaa are perfect for rafting and fishing. Skiing and walking are also great ways to enjoy the forested hills of Karelia and explore culture near the Russian border.

Rafting and canoeing

The Ruunaa rapids of Lieksanjoki River are an unforgettable experience! They can be explored on a boat or an inflatable dinghy steered by a cox. The longest route from Matkalahti to the Naarajoki River bridge is 30 kilometres in total. Read more.

People in a rubber boat in a white water rapid. Water splashing on the sides of the rubber boat.

The rapids are also suitable for canoeing. The most challenging places require prior experience and a kayak or a canoe suitable for rapids, with a spray skirt and safety equipment. Neitikoski Rapids with their infamous stopper make a challenging practice and competition environment for experienced canoers. Canoes can be hired from local entrepreneurs.

The kayak of a paddler who is wearing safety gear is upended in a drop in a surging river.


Ruunaa's rapids are a real treat for fishermen. The waters are regularly stocked with rainbow trout and brown trout. Good spots for fishermen with boats can be found upstream from the Neitikoski, Siikakoski and Murrookoski rapids. Boats can be hired from local entrepreneurs. Haapavitja and Paasikoski rapids are especially well suited for fly fishing. Those who are into lure fishing will find good fishing spots at any of the rapids. Kattilakoski Rapids, which can be hired for private use, are renowned for being excellent for fishing.

Fishermen wading in the water close to the shore. A summery lush forest grows on the shore.

Walk on marked trails

Ruunaa Hiking Area has more than 50 kilometres of marked trails of various levels of difficulty. Närelenkki Nature Trail (2 km) at Neitikoski Rapids and the short routes by Siikakoski Rapids are suitable for children. More demanding hikers enjoy Neitijärven Kierros Trail (22 km) and Koskikierros Trail (31 km) or combinations of the two. Lieksanjoki River can be crossed via rope bridges at Haapavitja and Siikakoski rapids, admiring the white water below from high up in the air. There are several lean-to shelters and campfire sites along the trails.

Other activities

  • Skiing: Ruunaa area is suited for both short ski trips and longer excursions with proper crosscountry skis. Please remember that currents can make ice surprisingly thin in places and that there may also be currents in unusual places in the winter.

    Ruunaan Matkailu maintains skiing trail length of 12 km in Siikakoski - Murroojärvi area. Read more about the skiing trail.

A person is skiing along a track close by some rapids with open water.

  • Geocaching: Geocaching is a stimulating experience for people of all ages.
  • Dog sledding: Dog sledding is a fun way to explore Ruunaa Hiking Area. A day trip or a weekend excursion with a pack of friendly and well-trained dogs is an unforgettable experience.
  • Snowshoeing: Snowshoeing with or without a guide is a great way to explore the area in the winter.
  • Nature trail: Närelenkki Nature Trail (2 km) runs in easy terrain along Verkkopuro brook. The trail is also suitable for children.
  • Pick berries and mushrooms: For berry pickers, the area has lingonberries, bilberries and cranberries. There are no restrictions on berry and mushroom picking in the area.

A close-up of ripening lingonberries and their leaves.

  • Canoeing: Visitors with no experience in shooting rapids can try flat water paddling on the lakes between the rapids. Canoes can be hired from local entrepreneurs. Please familiarise yourself with the route map and instructions before you start.
  • Hunting: Game species in the area include hares, wood grouse, black grouse and hazel grouse. In order to ensure the safety of hikers and fishermen, hunting is not permitted in most of the area between Koskireitti Trail and Lieksanjoki River or on Lieksanjoki River. Hunting is permitted on Kattilaniemi cape with the exception of the woods by the shores of Neitikoski and Kirppuvirta rapids. Please consult hunting maps for more details. Read more about hunting licences (erä
  • Snowmobiling: There is a snowmobile route (30 km) maintained by the North Karelia Association for Recreational Trails that circles the area. The association also manages a trail that runs through the southwestern parts of the area and continues to Kuhmo in the north and Ilomantsi in the south.
  • Sights and scenery: Walking, boating, canoeing and rafting are all great for enjoying the scenery. Huuhkajanvaara observation tower has stunning views over Karelian wilderness across Lake Neitijärvi.
  • Learn in nature: Ruunaa Nature Centre and its camping site offer many opportunities for school groups to explore North Karelian wilderness.
  • Walk on marked trails: There are a total of 50 kilometres of marked walking trails (2–31 km) in the area and excellent opportunities for trekking. There is also a wheelchair-accessible route (600 m) at Neitikoski Rapids.
  • Cycling: There are many kinds of paths and forest roads suitable for cycling in the area's varied, hilly terrain. Always stay on clearly visible tracks and pay attention to other hikers. Some duckboard routes are only two planks wide and therefore not recommended for cyclists.
  • Guided group tours: Several entrepreneurs organise guided group tours of Ruunaa Nature Centre and its surroundings, introducing visitors to the area's flora and fauna and its history.
  • Swimming: Good places for swimming can be found in Lakkapäänlahti bay or by the car park on the shores of Lake Neitijärvi. Swimmers can also use the jetty by the sauna at Neitikoski Rapids when the sauna is not in private use. Please remember that Lieksanjoki River is rocky and deep, and the currents can be strong in places. There is no official swimming spot in the area.
  • Hiking: Koskikierros Trail (31 km) and Karhunpolku Trail (133 km), which runs from Kuhmo to Patvinsuo National Park through Ruunaa Hiking Area, are ideal for longer hikes. There are lean-to shelters for overnight stays, or you can bring your own tent.
  • Boating: There are no restrictions on motorboats in the area. Commercial moorings must be used when mooring boats for extended periods of time. Rowing boats can be hired from local entrepreneurs.