Southern Herajärvi Trail 30 km
The Southern Herajärvi Trail runs around Lake Herajärvi's southern end (Eteläpäänselkä). The Eteläpää parking area (Eteläpääntie 113, Kontiolahti) and Kiviniemi (facebook.com, in Finnish) are good starting points for this circular trail that runs through Koli National Park, private land and the Taka-Aarnio Nature Reserve. The trail description is based on the assumption that the hike starts at Kiviniemi, goes towards Lakkala and follows the circular trail back to Kiviniemi. It is also possible to take the trail anticlockwise or go on a day trip to Lakkala, Rykiniemi or the Taka-Aarnio Nature Reserve.
The campfire sites along the trail and the distance from Kiviniemi:
- Lakkala 4 km
- Rykiniemi, 9.8 km (550 m trail off the main trail)
- Suopelto 14.8 km
- Eteläpää 21.9 km
- Ahvenlampi 25.1 km
- Huuhkajavaara 28.3 km
- Kiviniemi (Ilmolanlahti) 29.7 km
Places to stay overnight along the trail:
- Lakkala (camping site)
- Metsäpirtti (rental hut, 1.7 km trail off the main trail from Lakkala)
- Seppälä (rental hut, 400 m trail off the main trail)
- Rykiniemi (camping site, 550 m trail off the main trail)
- Suopelto (lean-to shelter)
- Eteläpää (lean-to shelter)
- Ahvenlampi (rental hut)
- Kiviniemi (facebook.com, in Finnish) (granary, lean-to shelter, camping site)
- Kiviniemi, 10 places
- Seppälä, 6 places
- Lähtevänsärkkä, 4 places
- Rykiniemi, 4 places
- Eteläpää, 4 places
Kiviniemi - Lakkala - Rykiniemi - Suopelto - Eteläpää - Kiviniemi
Kiviniemi - Lakkala 4 km
Kiviniemi farm (facebook.com, in Finnish) is a good starting and finishing point for the Southern 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 a lean-to shelter or, for a fee, in the heated old granaries or the main building. There is a well at the farm for filling up your drinking water supplies. By Lake Herajärvi, north of Kiviniemi farm, there is a two-sided lean-to shelter. Before that, if you arrive from the direction of Heraniemenkoli, you will find a sauna that is freely available for hikers to use. Another lean-to shelter is located south of Kiviniemi at Ilmolanlahti.
From Kiviniemi 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, and a footbridge across the River Orivirta. After that, the trail enters 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, woodshed, dry toilet and camping site are located behind the main building by Lake Herajärvi. The water in 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 or the spring brook by the road near the bushes. Natural water should be boiled before drinking. In the summer, the Lakkala grounds are maintained by grazing sheep surrounded by traditional round-pole fences.
Lakkala - Rykiniemi 5.8 km
The trail to Rykiniemi starts from the Lakkala yard towards the east via the field with an old drying barn. Please note that the northward trail will take you away from the Southern Herajärvi Trail towards Ukko-Koli Hill. You can fill up your water supplies at Seppälä farm's well, located behind the sauna. In the summer there are sheep grazing at Seppälä farm to manage the landscape, with shepherds to look after the sheep. The Seppälä rental hut is available for hikers to book in May and September (i.e., outside the pasture season). After Seppälä you will climb the 250-metre Vesivaara Hill and be able to admire the splendid view over Lake Herajärvi.
After crossing Herajoentie you will have a chance to see some old tar-burning pits and coal kilns that will give you a glimpse of the old ways of forest utilisation in the region. The trail runs past the Iso Vesilampi pond onto a small esker with a view over the Likolampi pond. After crossing another road (Luantie) you can take a 40-metre path to the Putrakko spring and fill up your water supplies. The quality of the spring water has not been tested yet, so you should boil it before drinking. Bubbling up out of the ground, the Putrakko spring flows as a brook to join the River Herajoki. From the narrow beach you will have a beautiful view over Lake Pielinen.
After the Putrakko spring the trail runs through lush terrain towards the River Herajoki and the wading cable. 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 across 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.
After the river crossing you might want to make a short diversion to Rykiniemi beach; the distance from the trail is 550 metres. You can camp on the beach, and you will also find a dry toilet and a campfire site there. The shallow shore is popular with swimmers, and you will have an open view over Lake Pielinen. There is no official beach.
Rykiniemi - Suopelto 5.2 km
After Rykiniemi the trail ascends to the top of Hirvivaara Hill, with magnificent scenery. After Hirvivaara Hill you can learn about the area's industrial history by visiting an old kyanite mine 100 metres from the trail. The Ilokallio scenery, with its bright birch forests and young pine forests, is also worth seeing. After Ilokallio the trail continues on private land until Kaunislahdentie, which you will follow for 80 metres. Then you will turn onto Rekilammentie, walk 160 metres and turn left towards Rekivaara Hill. After descending from Rekivaara Hill you will pass a couple of cute ponds before climbing upwards again through a pine forest towards Pajakallio. The Suopelto lean-to shelter was built by a private landowner but is freely available for hikers. Besides the lean-to shelter, there is also a woodshed and a dry toilet at Suopelto.
Suopelto - Eteläpää 7.1 km
The section between Suopelto and Eteläpää includes great differences in altitude and magnificent views far into the distance. The trail runs through an old-growth forest reserve, but also on forestry land and logging sites. After the Suopelto lean-to shelter the trail ascends Kolinvaara Hill. Along the way you will see handsome rocks and attractive brook banks. Next you will climb to Pesävaara Hill and Takavaara Hill, where the trail runs through the Taka-Aarnio Nature Reserve, which is a pristine old forest of some 18 hectares with precious herb-rich forests that thrive in the shade of rocks and along brook banks.
At the foot of the slope there are younger forests dominated by deciduous trees. The trail then ascends Moiseenvaara Hill, which offers a wonderful view over Lake Pielinen. Before rising to the top of Kiiesvaara Hill, the trail passes by the Moisseenlampi pond. From Kiiesvaara Hill you will descend to Eteläpääntie and a parking area by the road. The Eteläpää lean-to-shelter, campfire site and dry toilet are located along the Kuikkipuro brook 200 m south-west of Eteläpääntie. The lean-to shelter is large enough for 6–8 people to stay overnight.
Eteläpää - Kiviniemi 8.8 km
The area along the trail used to be farmland, and signs of forestry are clearly visible in many places. The trail runs through rocky terrain in places, and there are great differences in altitude. After the Eteläpää lean-to shelter the rail runs along the Kuikkipuro brook, where you can admire the roar of the rapids, especially in the spring. There is a reservable wilderness hut owned by the municipality of Kontiolahti, a campfire site, a dry toilet and a woodshed by Lake Ahvenlampi. After Lake Ahvenlampi you will ascend Kivivuori Hill and walk between the boulders of Rautaportti (‘Iron Gate'). There is a campfire site, a dry toilet and a woodshed at the Huuhkajavaara rest spot. From the top of Huuhkajavaara Hill you can admire the Huuhkajalampi pond, which is surrounded by steep rocky walls. By Lake Herajärvi, 300 m before Kiviniemi, there is a lean-to shelter, a campfire site and a woodshed.