Photo: Matti ReiviThe Northern Herajärvi Trail runs through Koli National Park and round the northern end of Lake Herajärvi. Koli Nature Centre Ukko and Kiviniemi (www.facebook.com) are good starting points for this circular trail that runs within Koli National Park and on privately-owned land. This trail description introduces the trail running via Ukko-Koli Hill, Ryläys and Kiviniemi back to Ukko-Koli Hill. It is also possible to take the trail the other way round, or go on day trips to the fields of the national park, the Ryläys observation tower or Jauholanvaara Hill along the Ennallistajan polku Trail.
 

The campfire sites along the trail and the distance from the Nature Centre Ukko:  

  • Prime Minister's campfire site, Nature Centre Ukko's upper yard, 0 km
  • Ikolanaho 2.9 km
  • Myllypuro  5.7 km (includes 1 km trail off the main trail)
  • Ryläys 8.5 km
  • Kiviniemi 18.6 km
  • Apajalahti 19.6 km
  • Lakkala 22.9 km
  • Pitkälampi 25.6 km
  • Ylä-Murhi  26 km (300 m trail off the main trail)
  • Havukanaho 29,7 km

Lodging in the Trail: 

  • Break Sokos Hotel Koli (www.sokoshotels.fi)
  • Ikolanaho (rental hut)
  • Jero (rental hut), 0.4 km trail off the main trail
  • Myllypuro (camping site), 1 km trail off the main trail
  • Ryläys (campfire shelter)
  • Kiviniemi (www.facebook.com), (granary, lean-to shelter, camping site)
  • Lakkala (camping site)
  • Metsäpirtti (rental hut), 1 km trail off the main trail
  • Seppälä (rental hut), 0.4 km trail off the main trail
  • Soikkeli (rental hut), 0.6 km off the main trail
  • Pärnälahden kelomökki (rental hut) 1.7 km off the main trail
  • Pärnälahti Red Rental Hut (rental hut available 16.6.2012) 1.8 km off the main trail
  • Ylä-Murhi (camping site, rental hut) 0.3 km off the main trail
  • Mäkrän maja (rental hut), 1.5 km off the main trail

Parking Areas: 

  • Koli Nature Centre Ukko, 100 places
  • Paimenenvaara, 6 places (1.3 km off the main trail)
  • Peiponpelto, 4 places
  • Ryläys parking area, 6 places
  • Kiviniemi, 10 places
  • Seppälä, 6 places
  • Pirunkirkko, 6 places (1 km off the main trail)
  • Mustanniityt, 6 places (1.4 km off the main trail)


Nature Centre Ukko - Ryläys Parking Area - Kiviniemi - Lakkala - Havukanaho -Nature Centre Ukko 

Nature Centre Ukko - Ryläys Parking Area 6.2 km

Before heading for the Herajärvi Trail, you should stop at the Nature Centre Ukko to get maps, up-to-date information on the trail and useful tips from the guides, who will be happy to help you plan your hike. Right at the start of the trail you will face the national park's highest peaks, Ukko-Koli, Akka-Koli and Paha-Koli. After the hill peaks you will head for two clearings, Mäkränaho and Ikolanaho. Both clearings are maintained by mowing them in late summer. The clearings are home to a wide range of butterfly and plant species. The best time to see the field flowers in full bloom is mid-summer. There is a rental hut, a campfire site, a woodshed, a dry toilet and a well at Ikolanaho.

From Ikolanaho the trail turns right towards the Myllypuro brook. After crossing Kotaniementie and passing the Peiponpelto parking area, the trail continues through a young pine forest and an old coniferous forest to the Myllykorpi mire. A 40-metre path from the trail leads to the mire, where there is an information board in Finnish, English and German. After Myllykorpi the trail runs through an old forest to Myllyvaara Hill, after which, if you wish, you can take a kilometre-long trail off the main trail to the Myllypuro camping site, which has a dry toilet, a campfire site and a woodshed. After crossing the Myllypuro brook the trail runs over private land.
 

Ryläys Parking Area - Kiviniemi 12.6 km

The section from the Ryläys parking area to Kiviniemi is one of the pearls of the trail with diverse nature and great differences in altitude. The trail runs through a forest dominated by deciduous trees to lookout points, onto rocks, to small wetland areas and into a magnificent spruce forest. You will first climb Mörkövaara Hill, which offers a splendid view over the area. There is a small brook by the Mörkölampi pond, and behind the pond there is a spring – please check whether the water is safe to drink with the Nature Centre Ukko before starting out.

Ryläys observation tower. Photo: Matti Reivi

There is a spacious Lapp ‘kota' hut suitable for overnight stays, a campfire site, a woodshed and a dry toilet at Ryläys. Some 500 metres from the hut you will find the Ryläys observation tower, which, in bright weather, offers a view all the way to Joensuu, Uimaharju and Outokumpu. On the Ryläys slope descending towards the north-east there is a 150-metre long, 30-metre wide boulder field called the Ryläys "stonefall". It was formed in the final stage of the Ice Age when the rock that had tumbled down onto the melting ice slid along the ice down the slope.

After Ryläys you will pass the Koukkelonrinne brook and reach the old-growth forests of Koukkelonrinne and Huurunrinne. From the top of Ikosenvaara Hill you will be able see far across to the horizon. After passing the Pitkälampi pond the trail ascends Sammakkovaara Hill and then descends to Sammakkouuro, a gorge that has a small stream running along the bottom. After Sammakkouuro the trail runs through a residential area and then crosses Heraniementie. The climb to Kolinvaara Hill starts through an old spruce forest and agricultural land. The River Pusonjoki is crossed via a bridge. The climb is steep, but the scenery is rewarding: the Herajoki and Pusonjoki rivers and Lake Pielinen crown the view opening up from the top.

From Kolinvaara Hill you will descend towards the shore of Lake Herajärvi. After crossing Mustalahdentie you will reach a sauna that is available for all hikers to use, and soon after that, a two-sided lean-to shelter. Besides the Nature Centre Ukko, Kiviniemi farm is another good starting and finishing point for the Herajärvi Trail. It is possible to book accommodation, meals, transportation and programme services in advance from the entrepreneur running the farm. At Kiviniemi you can stay overnight in heated old granaries or in a lean-to shelter. There is a well at Kiviniemi, and natural water sources are found at the Pitkälampi pond and the River Pusonjoki. The surface water from the lakes, rivers and brooks must be boiled before use.

Kiviniemi - Lakkala 4 km

From Kiviniemi (www.facebook.com) to Lakkala you will walk through splendid lake scenery. Right after Kiviniemi you will need to cross the Sikosalmi inlet 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 Nature Centre Ukko.

There is a campfire site, a dry toilet and a woodshed at the Ahosaari rest spot. There is a footbridge across the River Orivirta, and after that the trail will re-enter the Koli National Park area. You can camp, eat your packed lunch and go for a swim in the vicinity of Lakkala farm. There is no official beach. The campfire site, camping site, woodshed and dry toilet are located behind the main building by Lake Herajärvi. The water of the Lakkala well is not safe to drink. Instead, water can be fetched from the well at Seppälä farm less than two kilometres away or from the lake. The surface water from the lakes, rivers and brooks must be boiled before use. Water in the springs and running water in the brooks is usually good for drinking. However, the quality of the water cannot be monitored, so the use of natural water is at your own risk. In the summer, the Lakkala grounds are maintained by grazing sheep surrounded by traditional round-pole fences.

Lakkala - Havukanaho 7.1 km

The trail continues from Lakkala towards the north. After the Törisevä mire and mire meadow there is a path on the left to the Metsäpirtti rental hut, located 500 metres from the trail. After Törisevä you will walk through an old-growth forest dominated by spruces and pass the Karttusenlampi pond. At the Turusenautio clearing you will see the remains of an old house. The clearing landscape is managed by mowing. Off Turusenautio there is a kilometre-long trail to the Soikkeli rental hut and a 0.9-km trail to Ylä-Murhi, where there is a rental hut, a camping site, a dry toilet, a campfire site and a woodshed.

From Turusenautio the trail continues towards the Pitkälampi pond and its lakeside campfire site, woodshed and dry toilet. After Pitkälampi the trail runs along the same route as the Ennallistajan polku Trail to Jauholanvaara Hill, which offers one of the best views in Koli National Park: the glistening Lake Pielinen in the east and the wide open view over Lake Herajärvi in the west. From Jauholanvaara Hill you can take a kilometre-long trail along the Ennallistajan polku Trail to Pirunkirkko, which is a 33-metre deep cave near Kolin Rantatie.

The Herajärvi Trail continues its circular route from Jauholanvaara Hill towards Havukanaho. The Havukankorpi campfire site is located 400 m before Havukanaho. There is a dry toilet and a woodshed at the campfire site, which is located in a hollow; the small stream at the bottom may dry up in the summer. The diversity of the plant and butterfly species at Havukanaho is one of the widest in Koli National Park. The clearing landscape is managed by mowing.  There are also the remains of an old residential building at Havukanaho.

Havukanaho - Nature Centre Ukko 5.6 km

From Havukanaho the trail continues along Kolin Rantatie and Kehätie and then turns right off the road and starts to ascend towards Mäkrävaara Hill. There is a 1.5-km trail off the main trail to the Mäkränmaja rental hut. From Mäkrävaara Hill you will have an open view towards both the east and the west. There is a huge erratic boulder on the top of the hill. There is a famous Finnish painting by Eero Järnefelt that depicts an autumn scene from Mäkrä towards Ukko-Koli Hill.

From Mäkrävaara Hill the trail descends to Purolanaho, a clearing managed by mowing, and continues to Mäkränaho, another managed clearing. The Tarhapuro waterfall is well worth a visit early in the spring, and in the autumn if it has been rainy. There is a 0.9-km trail off the main trail to the waterfall. From Mäkränaho the trail ascends Koli's highest peaks: Paha-Koli, Akka-Koli and Ukko-Koli. An easier route diverts to the left after Mäkränaho and continues straight to the Nature Centre Ukko's P2 parking area.