Iso-Palonen - Maariansärkät Nature Reserve Trails

Hiking Trails

The Iso-Palonen - Maariansärkät Nature Reserve offers a total of about 30 km of hiking trails. Most of the time they pass through light-filled, easy-to-walk pine heaths. There are several lean-to shelters and campfire sites along the trails. Duckboards have been built over wetlands.

The hiking trails pass through easy-to-walk pine heaths most of the time. © Risto Sauso

Starting Points for Trails

The starting points for the hiking trails are the Matokangas parking area on the western side of Lake Iso-Palonen and the Valkeiskangas parking area on the northeastern side of Lake Iso-Palonen. Both parking areas have information boards in Finnish, English and Russian.

Marked Trails

  • Iso-Palonen Trail, about 13 km. From the Valkeiskangas parking area and around Lake Iso-Palonen. The trail is marked in the terrain with blue paint.

    • Services: lean-to shelters with campfire sites at the Tammalammenpuro Brook and Oikunniemi Point of Iso-Palonen, as well as the Saunaniemi Point of Veräinen. There are also campfire sites at the Papinsalmi Inlet, Kuikkalahti Bay and Nimetönlampi Pond.

    • Sights: You can see hunting pits, bases of tar-burning pits, and remains of trenches dug during the Second World War along the trail.

  • Pikku-Palonen Trail, about 5 km. A circular trail from the Valkeiskangas parking area around Pikku-Palonen. Marked with red paint. Can be combined with the Iso-Palonen Trail.

    • Services: Campfire sites at the Määtänniemi Point and Papinsalmi Inlet.

  • Jäkäläsärkkä Trail, about 3.5 km. A circular trail on the western side of Iso-Palonen. You can start off from the Matokangas parking area or Valkeisvaarantie Road. Marked in the terrain with red paint.

    • Services: Oikunniemi campfire site.

    • Sights: Along the trail, you can see, among other things, the base of a tar-burning pit and the remains of a cabin near the pit.

  • Kylmänsärkät Trail, about 16 km. A trail from Kylmänsärkät via Iso-Tahkonen to Ryti-Palonen. The trail is part of the eastern branch of the UKK Trail. It has a connection to the Elimyssalo Nature Reserve, for example.

    • Services: Iso-Tahkonen lean-to shelter with a campfire site, and the services of the Iso-Palonen Trail

    • Sights: Kylmänsärkät, hunting pits along the Iso-Palonen Trail, bases of tar-burning pits, and remains of trenches dug during the Second World War.

Other Trails

  • The trail crossing the Iso-Palonen area is part of the eastern branch of the UKK Trail ( It comes from Kuhmo and continues north to Suomussalmi, where its name changes to ‘Itäraja Hiking Trail‘.

Boating and Canoeing Routes

  • Kalliojoki Route, 40 km. A wilderness route along rivers and lakes and a succession of rapids. The route starts at Lake Iso-Palonen, where it is connected to the area's hiking trails. The rivers between the lakes are short and the rapids follow one after the other. It is as if you were descending the stairs. The drop between Lakes Iso-Palonen and Lentua is about 21 m. The total length of the route to the centre of Kuhmo is about 60 km, 40 km of which are part of the actual Kalliojoki Route.

    • The lakes along the route are Iso-Palonen, Pikku-Palonen, Veräinen, Alanne, Kaurojärvi, Juolunkajärvi and Kalliojärvi, as well as Lentua and Lammasjärvi, which connect to the main route.

Lake Iso-Palonen. © Ari Meriruoko

  • The rivers along the route are Saavanjoki, Juolunkajoki and Kalliojoki. The most notable rapids are Kalastonkoski, Lohikoski, Nurronkoski, Poronkoski, Törmäkoski, Pystykoski and Kattilakoski. The main route also includes the Lentuankoski Rapids.

  • Most of the time, the Kalliojoki Route traverses uninhabited areas. Habitation is found only in the small village of Kauronkylä and the region of Kattilakoski.

  • Cleared passages along the Kalliojoki Route were restored during the years 1978 - 1979 by placing rocks in the rapids. However, a two-to-three metre passage has been left open for boating.

  • The Kalliojoki Route is best suited for canoeing. There is a boat launch at the west end of Lake Iso-Palonen. The difficulty of the rapids along the route is I-III ( depending on the rapids (16 rapids before Lentua).

  • Viiksimonjoki Route. You can also start paddling on Lake Viiksimonjärvi along the Viiksimonjoki River and onwards via Pieni-Tahkonen to Veräinen, from where you can continue along the Kalliojoki Route. There are a few small rapids on the way that are so rocky at low water that you must walk past them.