Kiehisen kierros Trail

Splitting logs for firewood
Always make campfires in designated campfire sites
Trail food without a campfire
Only pitch your tent on sites where camping is allowed
Huts of all kinds
Mainly use marked trails
Litter-free hiking
Respect nature
Herajoki River crossing
Preparedness - the best first-aid
What are Everyman’s rights?

Kiehisen kierros Trail is a fairly short hiking trail with challenging terrain in the southern part of Koli National Park. Along the way, you can explore the less known areas and rare gems of the national park. You can use the site information boards along the trail to deepen your understanding of the national park’s values and how to respect them when visiting as well as to learn about the unique natural features of the area. The trail is marked with white circles on signs at trail junctions.

As this is a circle trail, you can choose a distance that suits your level of fitness and hiking experience. The shortest route is 3 kilometres long and longest route is up to 19 kilometres long. This distance also includes back-and-forth trail sections. The landscapes and habitat types on the trail are so varied, however, that there will be something new to see even on these sections.

You can start the Kiehisen kierros Trail from the parking areas at Pirunkirkko, Seppälä or Rykiniemi. If you want to avoid the longest back-and-forth trail section and the Herajoki river crossing with the wading cable, you can go around this by crossing the Herajoentie bridge or completely skip the southernmost section of the trail through Rykiniemi and Vesivaara.

You will need basic skills in how to move about in nature learned on day hikes when setting out on the Kiehisen kierros Trail. At the hiking exhibition in the Koli Nature Center Ukko you will learn more about Koli’s day hiking trails, hiking skills and Outdoor Etiquette, which will help you prepare for longer, more demanding hikes. In addition, it is important that you check the condition of your hiking gear at home so you can fully enjoy camping, cooking and maintenance at the end of your hiking day. You don’t need the very latest, most expensive gear - just make the most of your existing gear, even if you’re borrowing it from a friend!

In case of an emergency during your hike, such as getting lost, being injured or spotting a forest fire, call the emergency number 112 immediately. Please note that, particularly at the foot of steep hills, there are blind spots where you may have trouble getting a telephone signal.

Do you have a map with you? Throw your pack on and head out!

Splitting logs for firewood

Campfire sites in the Koli National Park stock firewood logs for use by hikers. By sawing and splitting your own firewood, you’ll conserve wood and help us save on resources by allowing us to focus on things more important than making firewood. Splitting logs is an essential hiking skill that you will always need. 

1.    Before splitting logs and starting a fire, always check for any current warnings at https://en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi/warnings, as making campfires when there is a forest fire or grass fire warning in effect is prohibited. In such cases, you may use a camp stove (excl. wood-burning backpack stoves).

2.    Keep your first aid kit handy whenever using sharp tools.

3.    Move the sawhorse to a level area and set a log firmly on it. You can find the saw on the woodshed wall. Hold the log with one hand and saw the other end into approximately 30-40 cm lengths. You don’t have to press the saw into the log - just let the saw’s own weight do the work. Sawing requires technique, not force.

4.    When you have sawn enough wood, move the splitting block to a level area and stand one of the sawn log sections on the block. Always try to use knot-free logs that are straight as possible.

5.    Take a firm, wide stance to keep your feet safe if you should miss with the axe. Swing the axe easily down, chopping the centre of the log - the axe’s own weight will help. If a log requires more than one chop to split, remove the axe carefully and try to chop it again in the same spot.

6.    You can also split logs laying on their side, but make sure that you chop the log in its centre with the axe blade parallel with the wood grain. Otherwise, the log might bounce off the block and strike you.

7.    Make a handful of small, roughly finger-sized sticks for kindling. The remaining firewood can be larger. 

8.    Finally, tidy up the area in front of the wood shed and put back the tools.

Always make campfires in designated campfire sites

Who wouldn’t enjoy taking a break and having a bite to eat in front of a roaring fire? Making fires is not covered by Everyman’s Rights - you need the permission of the landowner whenever making a campfire. In Koli National Park, lighting campfires is only permitted at designated campfire sites. By observing the guidelines on how to responsibly make a campfire, you’ll help us protect the unique nature of our national park and serve as a good example to others.

1.    Always make sure that you are in a permitted, maintained campfire site when making a fire.

2.    Before splitting logs and starting a fire, always check for any current warnings at https://en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi/warnings, as making campfires when there is a forest fire or grass fire warning in effect is prohibited. In such cases, you may use a camp stove (excl. wood-burning backpack stoves). Upon spreading, a fire can turn into a wildfire, as its embers can smoulder in the ground for several days.

3.    Split the logs into sufficiently small pieces. You’ll need a handful of dry, thin, roughly finger-sized sticks to light your fire. Slightly thicker pieces of split firewood should be used to make a feather stick so they won’t break when shaving them. 

4.    Softwoods, such as pine, are the easiest woods for making a feather stick. Take a thin piece of firewood that is as straight as possible, knot-free and has a sharp edge left from splitting. Hold the piece of firewood against a solid surface. 

5.    Begin shaving the wood into curls as long and thin as possible almost all the way down. A sharp knife is your best friend, as dull blades cause the most accidents! Shaving feather sticks demands technique, so practice will make you perfect. The more curls there are on a feather stick, the better it will light. Finally, you can turn the blade of your knife away from you to break off the curls. You should shave as many curls as possible, as having enough kindling is absolutely vital.

6.    Arrange a few pieces of firewood at the bottom of the firepit so that there is space between their split surfaces for the kindling. Place the kindling, birch bark or a small amount of paper or cardboard between the firewood. Never use birch bark torn from a living tree or flammable liquids when lighting a campfire! Start the fire on the kindling - once they are burning properly, place the thinnest pieces of kindling onto the fire crossways. Continue adding layers with thicker pieces of firewood when the smaller pieces are burning.

7.    Make absolutely sure that the fire has been put out when leaving. A bucket for extinguishing fires can be found near the campfire site.

Trail food without a campfire

Eating is definitely one of the biggest pleasures of hiking, as food always tastes better when eaten outside. Here in the Pitkälampi cooking shelter you can enjoy a bite to eat out of the weather. On a day trip, homemade sandwiches or hot soup in a thermos make an excellent meal. Did you know that you can also keep food cool in a food flask in hot summer weather?

How to choose a camp stove

The use of a camp stove becomes a crucial consideration the moment you start planing hikes longer than a day, because making a campfire to cook your food is not always permitted or even sensible. There is a camping stove for every need. Some prefer reliable alcohol-burning stoves, while others appreciate a light burner that can be screwed onto a gas bottle, even if it is more sensitive to weather. When hiking in the winter, on the other hand, a multi-fuel or liquid fuel camp stove is a handy piece of gear to have along, but your average hiker will do just fine with less.

The key is choosing a model that suits your needs and circumstances and knowing how to use and service it. You should definitely test the stove and different recipes at home before heading out to make sure that a bad case of “hangry” doesn’t ruin your hike.

Clean drinking water and watercourses

If you need water, you can take it from Pitkälampi, provided that you boil it before using or use a water filter. If possible, when taking water from a natural source, it is better to draw it from running water than standing surface water.

Use a biodegradable dishwashing liquid when doing dishes. If you use hot water to do dishes, you might not necessarily need dishwashing liquid. In the old days, people used sphagnum moss to wash dishes, but tearing moss out of the ground is not permitted in the national park and is not covered under Everyman’s Rights elsewhere.

Always do dishes sufficiently far away from the water body to ensure that dishwashing liquids or food residues do not end up directly in the pond. Visitors staying at the neighbouring Ylä-Murhi Rental Hut get their drinking water from here and, in popular places, water can be easily contaminated by bacteria. For us, it is a point of pride that we keep our watercourses clean.

Only pitch your tent on sites where camping is allowed

Nothing is quite as rewarding as getting into your tent and snuggling up in a nice, warm sleeping bag at the end of long, satisfying day of hiking.

In Koli National Park, camping is only permitted at designated camping sites. For example, camping is not permitted next to all campfire sites and rental huts, so always check the nationalparks.fi website to find suitable places to camp before heading out.

Peace for all

A special feature of Ylä-Murhi yard is that camping is permitted on one side of the meadow but not on the other. Why?

The meadow at Ylä-Murhi is a managed traditional biotope, in which plant species crucial to biodiversity and vulnerable to wear grow. There presence in the meadow allows a colourful array of insects and butterflies to thrive. Please respect the species of the meadow and the privacy of the guests staying in the rental hut by pitching your tent in the permitted area. Also consider other campers, who may be tired after a day of hiking and want to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. That way, we can all enjoy our stay together here.

Leave no trace when staying overnight

The rules for camping also apply to visitors using shelters suspended from trees, such as hammocks, even though the shelter doesn’t come into contact with the ground. Nevertheless, every effort should be made to avoid causing any unnecessary wear to the terrain. When there are a lot of hikers, wear becomes a real challenge. Be one of those whose visit leaves nothing but good memories!

Huts of all kinds

In national parks and hiking areas, you’ll encounter many different types of huts maintained by Metsähallitus that offer accommodations both free of charge and for a fee. Some of the more common huts are open wilderness huts, day-use huts, reservable huts and rental huts.

Which hut should I choose?

Open wilderness huts and day-use huts are free of charge and open to all visitors. An open wilderness hut is a modest structure, which is intended for use by visitors arriving under their own power to stay overnight for one or two nights without a reservation. Day-use huts are rest stops for hikers passing through on day hikes. In an emergency, visitors can stay overnight in a day-use hut. 

Huts that can be used for a fee include reservable huts and rental huts, which are locked and reserved in advance. The difference between these two types of huts is that, in reservable wilderness huts, visitors can only reserve individual bed places, while rental huts are at the exclusive disposal of the renter. All huts in Koli National Park are rental huts.

Because part of Koli’s longest hiking trail, the Herajärven kierros Trail, runs outside the national park, other accommodation options, such as the Ahvenlampi Open Wilderness Hut and private lodging services and cottages, are also available along the trail.

What are the hut rules?

The rules for Metsähallitus huts can vary slightly in different regions. Each hut has a folder where you can find instructions for using the hut and its appliances. A good rule of thumb when it comes to hut etiquette is that you should leave the hut in better condition than you found it!

You can reserve our huts on the Eräluvat.fi web shop.

Mainly use marked trails

It’s nothing short of wonderful that so many people have discovered nature and enjoy hiking! As more and more passionate hikers join our ranks, our responsibility to act sustainably in nature also increases.

How can I avoid causing damage?

Sometimes, a well-meaning hiker who is passionate about nature might cause damage through sheer obliviousness. That is why it is a good idea to read the hiking destination page on the nationalparks.fi website, as rules vary from site to site.

For example, visitors to Koli National Park may pick edible berries and mushrooms, but plants are not to be picked or damaged. You can take a picture of a plant or capture its likeness in some other way, provided that you don’t trample the area around it. Smart hikers stick to the trail in nature reserves, as this is the best way to preserve the natural values of the hiking destination.

Where can I go and when?

In the Koli National Park, the only real access restrictions are on islands in the summer during bird nesting season, which runs from mid-May to mid-July. However, taking recommendations into account along with restrictions is the responsible thing to do.

Each mode of travel has its own designated trail, which helps ensure visitor safety and preserves the terrain. For example, biking in Koli National park is only permitted on roads, but not on hiking trails, as biking would cause substantial wear to trails in the park’s unique hill nature not to mention pose a hazard to other trail users. 

By doing the right thing, you’ll help us keep Koli National Park a true gem of the North Karelian hill country long into the future.

Litter-free hiking

Clean and litter-free hiking trails and rest stops is always a delight for hikers, creating a sense of community and respect for other hikers.  Happily, littering has not been a major issue in Koli National Park considering the number of visitors, and we are very proud of it!

Minimise waste before leaving home

The basic idea is that hikers should leave no trace in nature. The amount of waste produced can be minimised at home by packing your food in reusable containers, bags or paper wrapping. Your basic gear list should always include a trash bag, where you can collect all the waste produced along the way. Small amounts of clean paper or cardboard can be used to start a campfire, but don’t use other types of waste.

Two types of toilets

In the Koli National Park, there are two types of toilets: dry toilets and suction toilets. In a dry toilet, you can recycle any biowaste produced along the way, but no waste other than human is to be put into a suction toilet. Any excess waste in the suction tank will cause problems and increase the cost of waste treatment. You will find information on which type of toilet is used in each outhouse or you can visit the Koli page at nationalparks.fi.

Win-win

Everything we pack into nature, we pack it right out again, disposing of it in the appropriate waste sorting points. If you find any litter dropped by someone else accidentally, do pick it up on your way out.

It benefits both nature and hikers. Thanks to this, the amount of landfill waste found at hiking destinations has decreased, even though visitor numbers have increased. The principle of Leave No Trace reduces the need for maintenance vehicles in the national park and, in turn, reduces noise, emissions and terrain wear. It not only saves nature, but also money and work, which can then be focused on improving hiking trails and other services, much to the delight of hikers.

Respect nature

You have just arrived at the top of Jauholanvaara hill after a tough climb. It’s time to take off your pack and stop to enjoy the vibrant landscape opening out before you.

Jauholanvaara is one of Koli National Park’s lesser known gems, whose summit offers spectacular views of Lake Herajärvi on a clear day. Jauholanvaara hill is climbed by hikers walking both the Kiehisen kierros Trail and Koli’s longest trek, the Herajärven kierros Trail. Even though this isn’t one of Koli’s best known spots for taking in the scenery, thousands of hikers pass through here every year.

Sustainable hiking

Even though Koli National Park does offer some amazing hiking, the first and foremost purpose of its founding was nature conservation. This means that hiking must not cause any harm to nature - by respecting nature, we preserve the value of the nature reserve and are also able to enjoy a truly unique hiking destination.

What kind of example will you set?

Nature and all its flora and fauna should be viewed at an adequate distance so that hikers do not cause any harm to them. A responsible hiker won’t trample the terrain or disturb nature, not even to get a better shot with the camera. Each and every photo shared in social media influences how fellow hikers perceive the destination and how to act while visiting.

You should also keep in mind that pets must be kept on a leash when in the national park. Even the sweetest dog unleashed can startle, for example, a nesting bird, forcing her to leave her hatchlings. As long as they kept on a leash, our beloved four-legged friends are more than welcome to visit the national park.

Little things mean a lot

It is vital that each and every one of us accept responsibility for our own actions when visiting a nature reserve. Based on visitor numbers, if even just a single piece of trash were to be dropped on each individual visit to the national park over a year’s time, this would amount to over 250,000 pieces of trash. That’s quite a multiplier effect!

Herajoki River crossing

You have arrived at the Herajoki River crossing - it’s time to get your feet wet! Fording a river is an important skill to have if your goal is to do more demanding hikes. The best places to cross a river are at its widest and shallowest points, where the current is slowest.

A wading cable has been installed here to assist you in crossing the river. Because the water level of the Herajoki River varies significantly depending on the season, the level of difficulty for making a crossing also varies. As a rule, the river is at its highest level during the spring thaw and lowest during the driest part of the summer.

If desired, you can bypass the Herajoki River crossing by hiking an extra 1.7 km over the Herajoentie bridge. Especially during spring floods, foregoing the wading cable crossing might be the wisest option.

Instructions for crossing the river

1.    Pack at least a set of spare clothes and electronics in a watertight bag or container just in case you fall into the water.

2.    Always wear shoes when wading. If the water is cold, your feet may become numb and you won’t be able to feel sharp rocks. Good wading footwear includes water shoes or camp sandals. Even a pair of wool socks will do if you don’t have a pair of camp shoes along. Shoes also help you keep your balance, as the rocks on the riverbed are often extremely slippery.

3.    Unbuckle your sternum strap and waist belt so that you can dump your pack easily if you fall into the water.

4.    Wait patiently for your turn - only one person can use the wading cable at a time.

5.    When crossing, hold onto both ropes to help balance. To avoid slipping, don’t jump from one rock to another.

6.    If no ropes have been left on the other side of the river, move some of them back after crossing That way, the next hiker will be able to make the crossing.

Preparedness - the best first-aid

When hiking, things rarely go exactly as planned. You might sometimes be pleasantly surprised, but there will be some situations where you’ll need to put your field first-aid skills to use.

Consider the risks before heading out

It’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about your hiking destination before heading out and analyse the risks. Once you’ve anticipated the risks and come up with a plan for dealing with them, you’re already well on your way. It’s also good to take a good look at a map before your trip in order to find the nearest places where someone injured can be picked up.

When hiking in Koli during the spring thaw, the biggest risks are, for example: injuries caused by slipping or challenging terrain; injuries caused by tools, such as an axe or knife; burn injuries; exhaustion and dehydration; ground wasp nests and pit vipers; and changing weather conditions. There is no real risk of getting lost in Koli as you are relatively close to human habitation the entire time. However, it is good to have a general sense of direction and basic map reading skills.

In addition to this, hikers should have basic first-aid skills. If something unexpected happens, it is vital that you remain calm and assess the situation. What should you do if you get a laceration, you twist your ankle, your drinking water runs out, you get caught in a storm or you hiking partner falls ill? Basic first-aid skills include maintaining the victim’s breathing, circulation and consciousness.

Remember the European emergency number 112

Hikers should always have a first-aid kit along, even on day hikes. They should also know exactly what first-aid supplies it contains and how to use them. A store-bought first-aid kit can be customised to suit your own needs. For longer hikes, you’ll need a more comprehensive first-aid kit than you would use for day hikes. 

The most important thing to remember in the event of an emergency is the European emergency number - 112. It’s also a good idea to download the 112 Suomi mobile app. When an emergency call is made through the app, the emergency response centre operator will automatically receive information on your precise location.

Please note that, particularly here in the southern sections of the Koli National Park, there are blind spots in telephone signal coverage. For example, when hiking through gorges behind hills, you can lose your signal. Signal reception improves as you climb higher. Due to the potential loss of your telephone signal, it is a good idea to give your planned hiking route and schedule to someone before heading out.

When you prepare for dangerous situations, you will be able to entirely avoid most of them!

What are Everyman’s rights?

Based on old customs, Everyman’s rights give everyone outstanding opportunities to get out and enjoy nature. However, Everyman's rights do not apply in nature reserves, such as national parks. These rights may be subject to certain legal restrictions in an effort to achieve set conservation goals.

Guidelines for understanding the rules and regulations

National parks are first and foremost nature reserves, whose goal is to preserve and safeguard the nature values of a given area. National parks also offer splendid opportunities for recreation, provided that hiking in the nature reserve is done sustainably and with respect for nature. National park rules can vary widely, so always read the guidelines and rules for your hiking destination as well as Outdoor Etiquette on the nationalparks.fi website before heading out.

Everyman’s rights in the national park?

1.    Camping: In the Koli National Park, the biggest departure from Everyman’s rights concerns camping, which is only permitted in specifically designated camping areas. Camping is not permitted next to all campfire sites, so always check to see where you are permitted to camp when planning your route.

2.    Biking: Another major departure from Everyman’s rights concerns biking, which is only permitted on roads in Koli National Park. Hiking trails are limited to only foot traffic.

3.    Lighting fires: For inexperienced hikers, the rules for making a fire might sometimes be a bit vague, which is why you might come across unauthorised campfire sites out in the field.

If you want be part of the solution, you can remove an unauthorised campfire site by spreading the completely cooled coals and ashes deeper in the forest in order to discourage others from making a fire in the wrong place.

Making an open fire in the national park is only permitted in maintained campfire sites, provided that there is no forest or grass fire warning in effect. Please keep in mind that making a fire is not an Everyman’s right - it always requires the separate consent of the landowner. 

4.    Picking berries and mushrooms: Picking edible berries and mushrooms is also permitted in Koli National Park, but you must leave all other plants, fungi and lichens untouched. Do not collect anything else you might find out in the field, such as stones or parts of dead plants. Dead plants and trees provide a habitat for many species, including rare ones.