Differences in Altitude Make It a Demanding Trail
The Herajärvi Trail is demanding due to the differences in altitude: it includes steep uphill and downhill sections. In some places there are stones and roots on the trail, making the path uneven. Along the trail you will encounter a rope-pulley ferry and a wading cable, as well as duckboards and bridges to help you cross wet sections, brooks and rivers. The Herajärvi Trail is available to hikers during the snow-free season. In the winter you can go on snowshoeing trips along the marked trails in Koli National Park.
To take this trail, you should be quite fit, able to read a map and have some wilderness skills. The trail is even suitable for beginners as long as they remember to adjust their daily journey to their level of fitness. The trail is not suitable for the physically challenged or pushchairs due to the variations in altitude. Koli National Park also offers short and easy trails. Signposted and marked with blue paint dots, the trail is easy to follow, but it is always good to take the Koli outdoor and service map and a compass along for safety.
The length options for the Herajärvi Trail are 30, 35 or 61 km. If you are planning to take the 61-km trail, you should allow 3–4 days for the hike. For the Northern Herajärvi Trail you should allow 2–3 days and for the Southern Herajärvi Trail 2 days. The most demanding section on the trail is the section that runs on the western side of Lake Herajärvi. Some of the steep uphill and downhill sections can be avoided by using roads or other routes. Instead of climbing to Kolinvaara Hill between Ryläys and Kiviniemi, it is possible to choose an easier route via Heraniementie and Mustalahdentie. On the eastern side, the hardest section is the climb up and down Mäkrävaara Hill. However, you can get round the hill by walking along the ring road between Kotaniementie and Kolin rantatie to the Peiponpelto parking area and then continuing via Ikolanaho towards Ukko-Koli Hill.
Rope-Pulley Ferry and Wading Cable
In times of unfrozen water you can cross the Sikosalmi inlet between Kiviniemi and Lakkala on a rope-pulley ferry. If it is on the other side, you must first pull the ferry to the jetty on your side of the inlet, then step on board and use your arm muscles to get to the opposite shore. For safety reasons, you must take your backpack off while crossing the inlet. The ferry may only be boarded by three people at a time, and it is not available in the winter. If you are hiking early in the spring or late in the autumn, you should check the ferry's availability at the Koli Nature Centre Ukko.
The 61-km option of the Herajärvi Trail includes the first wading cable in Southern Finland; you have to be very careful and bold enough to get your toes wet when using it. With the help of the wading cable you can easily cross the river in times of low water. Just take off your shoes and roll up your trouser legs, and bravely cool off your toes in the river! Choose a wading cable that is the right length for you and calmly wade over to the other side; walk carefully as there are rocks on the river bottom that may be slippery. The cable may only be used by one person at a time. You should open the hip belt and chest strap of your backpack in case you stumble. Group leaders must return some of the wading cables after crossing to ensure there are enough ropes on both sides of the river.
The water level can rise so high during the spring and autumn floods that it is better to skip the wading and use Herajoentie, the bridge and Vaaralahdentie instead. If you skip the wading cable and climbing onto Hirvivaara Hill and, after Vesivaara Hill, go along Herajoentie to the Rekilammentie crossroads, the length of the section to walk along the road is 3 km, and the hike is shortened by roughly one kilometre.
Before the Hike
Before setting off you should familiarise yourself with the trail using the map and the trail description, and you should take the Koli outdoor and service map with you on the hike. Choose the places to stay overnight and plan where to fill up your water supplies, as there are only a few places along the trail where you can get water.
Choose the trail or sections of the trail according to the time you have available. If you are not planning to take the circular trail, decide how you will get back. When planning day trips, you should estimate the appropriate pace based on your level of fitness. Please remember that the great differences in altitude and the steep slopes make the trail more demanding than usual, and you cannot walk fast up and down the slopes with a heavy backpack.
If you have pets with you, you should note that the trail includes steep uphill and downhill sections and water crossings. Pets are allowed in some of the Koli huts, so please check the hut-specific situation before starting your trip.
It is advisable to take a first-aid kit with you. See also the Herajärvi Trail instructions and rules.