Natural Features and Sights in Ruunaa Hiking Area

Photo: Marko Haapalehto

Lieksanjoki River has fast-flowing rapids that later pool into lakes. Some parts of the river are lined with handsome pine heaths.

Taking care of nature

Lieksanjoki River, the Hearth of Ruunaa
Animals of Ruunaa
The White-throated Dipper

The landscape of Ruunaa Hiking Area is characterised by Lieksanjoki River, which with its rapids flows through the area. Deciduous trees add colour to the pine forests along the river course, so the scenery changes with seasons. At some places on the river banks grows the Prickly Rose (Rosa acicularis), the official flower of North Karelia.

It is possible to admire the changing scenery of Ruunaa, for example, from a canoe, from a hiking trail or from the lookout tower of Huuhkajanvaara, which is located at the highest point of the hiking area (183 metres above the sea level).

Lieksanjoki River, the Hearth of Ruunaa

Lieksanjoki. Photo: Marko Haapalehto

Ruunaa Rapids

There are many different rapids in Lieksanjoki River, but they all have their own names, Ruunaa Rapids are actually not any specific ones. On the 17,5 km section of the river which goes through the hiking area, rapids, torrents and lakes alternate. There are six rapids where the water drops almost 16 metres altogether. The white water rapids are at their most impressive during the spring floods, from mid May until the beginning of June. At the end of June, the water level starts to go down.

Neitikoski talvella. Kuva: Janne Koivuniemi

Ruunaa Rapids are a traditional destination for white water rafting. Already in the 1960s, Enso-Gutzeit Oy, a large forest products company, used to take its guests to shoot the rapids. In 1973, private rafts started offering white-water trips to the public. Now the peak season for both white-water rafting and hiking is in July.

Lieksanjoki River flows from Russian Karelia

Lieksanjoki River is the 14th largest river in Finland, with a flow of about 95 cubic metres of water a second. It is a part of the 300-km-long lake and river system. The river begins in Russian Karelia, from the lakes of Roukkulanjärvi, Lieksanjärvi and Tuulijärvi, and runs into Lake Pielinen. From Ruunaa Hiking Centre, as the crow flies, it is 8 km to Russia.

Taustalla virtaa Lieksanjoki. Kuva: Heikki Räsänen

In the 1960s, water-power stations were built in Lieksankoski and Pankakoski rapids in the lower course of the river. They stopped the Lake salmon (Salmo salar m. sebago Girard) and the Lake trout (Salmo trutta) getting from Lake Pielinen to Lieksanjoki River. Salmon and trout have been planted so that they would return to the area. There are projects of the EU Community Initiatives (Interreg and Leader) ( in the area to restore the natural Lake salmon population of Lake Pielinen, and to protect the diversity of the natural features of Lieksanjoki River.

Animals of Ruunaa

In the more than 100-year-old forests of Ruunaa the croaking of the Common Raven (Corvus corax) can be heard. In the spring, you may hear the display call of the Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) or the song of the Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) returning to its old nest hole in the dry pine forests. The Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) and the Bean Geese (Anser fabalis) nest on the small lakes and mires of Ruunaa.

Photo: Heikki Räsänen

The Moose (Alces alces) lives in the Hiking Area around the year, and in the summer the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) might occasionally look for berries and nectar to eat in the peaceful area. However, bears avoid humans, and therefore the only signs of its visits are the marks that it has left behind. In the winter, you can find the pawprints of the Wolf (Canis lupus), the Wolverine (Gulo gulo) and the Lynx (Lynx lynx) on the snow in the areas behind Lake Ruunaanjärvi.

Photo: Petteri Polojärvi

The White-throated Dipper in Ruunaa's Open Rapids

The White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) is the size of a Starling with a sturdy, strong build and it thrives by flowing waters. The Dipper flies with buzzing wings just above the water surface following the river. It has the unique ability of catching food while "flying" underwater. Now and again it dives to the bottom of the river, walks there for a few steps searching for water insects and then rises to the surface again to sit on a rock.

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus). Photo: Heikki Räsänen

Dippers nest in northern Finland, Sweden and Norway and migrate south during the harshest winter months when their home stream is frozen over. The rapids at Ruunaa offer a winter home for many White-throated Dippers. If one is lucky they can spot over 10 of them along the same stream. From December to April the Dipper is quite easy to spot in the middle of the snowy river landscape and during spring it can sometimes be heard singing.


Ruunaa Hiking Area

  • Established 1987
  • Area 31 km²

The Emblem of Ruunaa Hiking Area

The Emblem of Ruunaa Hiking Area

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