Hiking Trails

Punkaharju's naturally gorgeous landscape offers excellent opportunities for hikes of different lengths. There are three marked trails in Punkaharju Research Park and the Kokonharju Esker area and three trails on the Esker area . Additionally there are numerous unmarked but clearly visible trails through the terrain.

Starting Points for Trails

  • The Kokonharju Trail, Puulajireitti Tree Species Trail and The Hakki (Nutcracker) Trail all have their starting point in Laukansaari Research Park's parking area at the place called the old school at Punkaharju, on the north side of main road 14. To get to the starting point turn off main road 14 in the direction indicated by the signpost for "Tutkimuspuisto" (Research Park). There is a parking area as well as an information boards at the starting point on the grounds of the old school building.
  • Visitors can set off on the Harjureitti Trail from Tuunaansaari, Lusto, Kruunupuisto or the rest spot on the ridge.
  • On the Topeliuksen polku Trail visitors can set off from Tuunaansaari or near Kruunupuisto.
  • The starting point of the Kuikon Salpa Trail is the parking area by the Harjutie kiosk.

The Accessible Trail, 0.3 km

The accessible trail runs for 0.3 km and is suitable for wheelchairs over its entire length, from the parking area at Kruunupuisto to the scenic Valkealampi pond.  The route is part of the Harjureitti Trail and is marked with orange paint symbols. There is no winter maintenance on the trail.

The Accessible Trail Map (excursionmap.fi)

The Kuikon Salpa Trail, 0.7 km, circle trail

Hiking time 0.5 hours. No winter maintenance.
Easy trail, with minor variations in elevation.

Wars and border conflicts are also part of the history of Punkaharju. On the Kuikon Salpa Trail, you can explore the military trenches built during the period of peace between the Finnish Winter War and Continuation War. These trenches were later restored. The structures are part of the Salpa Line, which was built along the entire eastern border of Finland.

Starting point
Address: Kuikonniemi parking area, Harjutie 223, Savonlinna (road no. 4792)
Coordinates: WGS84 - lat: 61° 46.573' lon: 29° 20.200', ETRS-TM35FIN - P: 6851466 I: 623264
The Kuikon Salpa Trail Map (excursionmap.fi)

Along the trail there is a reconstructed military trench, which visitors may also visit.

Hiking structures
At the starting point there are information boards, which contain a map of the area and information on the role that the Salpa Line played during the Second World War. 

In the summer, the Harjutie kiosk serves visitors next to the parking area, and the toilet is open during the opening hours of the kiosk. 

Trail description
Trail markings: Orange paint trail markings on trees. Wooden signposts at intersections.
Recommended direction: Can be hiked in both directions.

The Kuikon Salpa Trail is an easy and short circle trail, which starts at the Kuikonniemi parking area. 
The trail winds through a light-filled pine forest. You can find its main attraction, the reconstructed trenches, next to the Harjutie road. Visitors are welcome to explore the trenches. The trenches have been restored in the 1990s and most recently in 2021. In some places, you can admire the sparkling waters of Puruvesi through the trees. 

Stay on the route while visiting the trenches and observe the instructions posted there. Do not cross ropes bordering the area. Wooden structures may be slippery, such as during rainy weather.  

Kokonharju Trail, 3 km, circle trail

Hiking time 1 to 2 hours. No winter maintenance.
The route is classified as moderate due to differences in elevation.

The Kokonharju Trail will take you into the depths of an old-growth forest. In this rugged esker terrain, you can almost sense the retreat of the continental ice sheet and surging glacial rivers, whose sheer power shaped the landscape. On this trail you will also encounter Finland's tallest tree, which grows in a spruce stand planted in the 19th century.

Starting point

Address: Research Park parking area, Puistometsäntie 14, Savonlinna
Coordinates: WGS84 - lat: 61° 48.274' lon: 29° 18.982', ETRS-TM35FIN - P: 6854583 I: 622082

Kokonharju Trail Map (excursionmap.fi)

Hiking structures
At the starting point of the trail there are information boards, which describe the Punkaharju nature reserve and forest research conducted in the Research Park. The information boards also contain a map of the area. At the approximately halfway point of the trail, there is a low observation bench on top of the Kokonharju esker, where you can take a lunch break. 

Trail description
Trail markings: Orange paint trail markings on trees. Wooden signposts at intersections.
Recommended direction: Can be hiked in both directions.

The Kokonharju Trail is a circle trail, whose starting point is at the parking area next to the Punkaharju Research Park. The first 400 metres of the trail in the Research Park area are hiked on duckboards. The circle trail section of the trail begins at the edge of the nature reserve. 

The narrow trail winds through the old-growth forest area, where the esker forest has remained in a relatively pristine state. While the landscape value of the nature reserve in the Punkaharju esker area has been preserved with the cautious thinning of trees, the forest in the Kokonharju area has been left alone to grow naturally. For example, fallen trees are not removed, but are left on the ground to further increase biodiversity. Glimpses of the sparkling Puruvesi can be caught between the stout pines, and the trail occasionally descends into lush hollows. At approximately the halfway point, there is a small rest bench for a lunch break. There are wide variations in elevation along the trail, with wooden steps built at the steepest point to ease access.

When returning to the Research Park, the trail passes through an impressive planted stand of European spruce (Larix decidua), which was planted in the 1880s. Among other things, the tallest tree in the country grows here, reaching a height of more than 47 metres. You can take a detour off the main trail to reach the tree - look for the sign reading “Suuret puut” (Large trees).
The last 400 metres of the trail returns to the parking area on the same section of trail as at the beginning.

The rocks and roots in the trail and the wooden stairs may be slippery when wet. 

The Harjureitti Trail, 4 km

Hiking time 1 to 2 hours. No winter maintenance.
The trail is easy to hike, but it is classified as moderate due to variations in elevation.

On the Harjureitti Trail, you will be hiking in the national landscape of Punkaharju, with its rich cultural history. You can take a break from hiking and stop at a café or museum. 

Starting point
There are multiple starting points on the trail. For example, you can start out near Lusto or Hotel Kruunupuisto.

Address: Finnish Forest Museum Lusto, Lustontie 1, Punkaharju
Coordinates: WGS84 - lat: 61° 48.027' lon: 29° 19.265', ETRS-TM35FIN - P: 6854135 I: 622347 

Address: Hotel Kruunupuisto, Vaahersalontie 44, Punkaharju. Please note that the starting point of the trail is located in the parking area across the road.
Coordinates: WGS84 - lat: 61° 47.172' lon: 29° 18.675', ETRS-TM35FIN - P: 6852528 I: 621887

The Harjureitti Trail Map (excursionmap.fi)

  • Topeliuksen polku Trail (2,5 km) is part of Harjureitti Trail. The lit trail is surrounded by old pines and lake landscapes.

Sights and hiking structures
The starting point at the Kruunupuisto parking area has a large information board with a map of the area. Valkialampi observation point with wooden benches. Elsewhere along the trail, there are also benches for resting as well as information boards that present the history of the esker area.

Trail description
Trail markings: Orange paint trail markings on trees. Wooden signposts at intersections.
Recommended direction: The trail can be hiked in both directions, but it is not a circle trail.

The Harjureitti Trail brings together Punkaharju's best trails as well as traditional tourist destinations and newer offerings. In spite of the trail markings, it is a good idea to follow the map while hiking the trail, as there are a large number of other trails crossing through the area. 

The trail is easy to hike, but elevations in esker terrain can vary widely in some places. Stone steps make it easier to access the steepest sections. Part of the trail follows along the Topeliuksenpolku Trail. This part of the trail is also suitable for use by visitors with prams or in wheelchairs with an assistant.

The trail runs one way, but it is possible to change direction by, for example, connecting to the Topelius Trail. The approximately 500-metre section south of Hotel Punkaharju also offers hikers an opportunity to choose whether to follow along the shoreline of Kaarnalahti or take the original, unpaved esker road on the esker. 
The trail can be started at several points, such as near Hotel Kruunupuisto and Lusto as well as, for example, Hotel Punkaharju. 

Although there is no actual winter maintenance on the trail, all the trail sections are usually trampled smooth in winter. The trail crosses Harjutie road, which has a speed limit of 50 km/h. 

Puulajireitti Tree Species Trail, 5.3 km, circle trail

Puulajireitti Tree Species Trail is 5.3 km long and features 30 different tree species. Along the trail there is the area's oldest forest, Montelli larch forest, which was planted already in 1877. The trail is easy to travel and follows the gravel roads which zigzag through the arboretum area. The trail is marked with red paint symbols and signposts.

Puulajireitti Tree Species Trail Map (excursionmap.fi)

The Hakin kierros Trail, 7.7 km, circle trail

Hiking time 2 to 3 hours. No winter maintenance.
The trail is easy to walk, with only minor variations in elevation.

On the Hakin kierros Trail, you will be hiking in a forest landscape of larch and other uncommon trees. This area has already served as a forest research showcase for over a century. Lucky hikers might catch a glimpse of the Spotted Nutcracker, the emblem bird of the trail.

Starting point
Address: Research Park parking area, Puistometsäntie 14, Savonlinna 
Coordinates: WGS84 - lat: 61° 48.274' lon: 29° 18.982', ETRS-TM35FIN - P: 6854583 I: 622082
The Hakki Trail Map (excursionmap.fi)

Hiking structures
At the starting point, the Research Park parking area has large information boards that present not only the Punkaharju Nature Reserve, but also the history and present day of forest research in the Research Park. The information boards also contain a map of the area. The Karjalankallio lean-to shelter and its campfire site is located approximately at the halfway point of the trail. There is also a woodshed and dry toilet at the lean-to shelter. The toilet is accessible with the help of an assistant.

Trail description
Trail markings: Blue paint markings on trees. At crossing points, wooden signposts, which either read "Hakin kierros" or show a white arrow.
Recommended direction: The recommended hiking direction on the trail is clockwise.

The Hakin kierros Trail winds through the Research Park area, changing between trails, gravel roads and ski tracks. The first 400 metres of the trail pass through the Punkaharju Research Park's arboretum. The trail then comes to a young pine stand. Trees grow imperceptibly, soon lining both sides of the trail with stunningly beautiful, tall larches. The tallest tree in Finland, over 47 metres tall, also grows here, and you can take a short detour off the trail to see it. The stand was planted more than 140 years ago and was the first example of the experimental cultivation of exotic tree species in the area. 

There are several test areas and stands along the trail. Along the route, you can see several tree species not typical to Finland, such as Swiss pine (Pinus cembra). At approximately the halfway point of the trail, you can stop at the Karjalankallio lean-to shelter to, for example, make a campfire and enjoy the views of Puruvesi. 
The trail is also ideal for mountain biking and serves as a ski track in the winter.

Part of the trail runs along the Research Park's gravel roads, on which driving is also permitted. The speed limit is 30 km/h. 

Cross-country Skiing Trails

The Länsi-Punkaharju (western Punkaharju) village association maintains a 7,5-km-long circular ski trail known as Metlan lenkki Trail in Laukansaari area as well as several other ski trails in the Punkaharju area. Karjalankallio lean-to shelter, where visitors can enjoy a packed meal beside a campfire, is situated on Metlan lenkki ski trail. The trail is suited for either classical or free-style cross-country skiing.

Metlan Lenkki Trail Map (excursionmap.fi)

Biking Trails

Cycling is permitted on the area's roads and trails separately marked with bike symbols (Topeliuksen luontopolku Nature Trail, the Hakki (Nutcracker) Trail and Puulajireitti Tree Species Trail).