A combination of rugged vertical rock walls and lush groves
Southern Konnevesi is a landscape of contrasts: wide open lake landscapes nestle amidst the Northern Savo hills, while green herb-rich forests can be found inland, behind the rough rocky shores. The large mainland section of the national park on the lake's eastern shore is a genuine hill landscape, where lush herb-rich depressions alternate with steep cliffs and shield bark pines decorate the clifftops.
The variable topography of the three hills in Enonniemi – Kalajanvuori, Loukkuvuori and Kituvuori – offers challenges even for experienced hikers. One of the specialities of the hilly landscape is the regionally threatened snow saxifrage (Saxifraga nivalis). The plant mainly inhabits fell areas in Lapland.
Southern Konnevesi – Heart of the National Park
Southern Konnevesi, the lake surrounding the national park, is the clear-watered central lake of the unregulated Rautalampi waterway. The cool lake waters of Southern Konnevesi are of excellent quality and among the key habitats of the wild brown trout (Salmo trutta lacustris) in southern Finland. The deepest known point of the lake is 57 metres. The bedrock in the Southern Konnevesi area is ancient, and over the course of time, various fractures, depressions and faults have created a ragged shoreline, with headlands and long coves being typical of the lake. The lake is dotted with hundreds of islands and islets.
Southern Konnevesi is surrounded by free-flowing rapids on both sides: Konnekoski to the east and Siikakoski to the west. The lake is a significant nesting and resting area for waterfowl. Explore Southern Konnevesi by travelling on the lake, wildlife watching or fishing. You can find the best known sandy beach of the lake on the Iso-Pyysalo island.
The osprey, the lord of the fishing grounds and twig castles
The osprey is a large bird of prey found throughout Finland. It spends winters in Africa and, as a sedentary species, returns to its nest in April, when the lakes are freed of ice. The bird feeds almost exclusively on fish. It plunges feet first into the water and grabs the fish in its talons.
Ospreys mate for life and build a large nest of twigs, usually on the top of a pine. The nesting site must be easily accessible and have good visibility over the surrounding area. In addition, the tree must be very sturdy, as over the years the nest may gain hundreds of kilos of weight. The scarcity of suitable nesting sites is a problem for ospreys. Therefore, the nesting tree of an osprey is always protected in Finland. Man-made nests have been installed in the Southern Konnevesi area, and breeding in such nests has been successful. The population of the species in the Southern Konnevesi area is the densest in central Finland, with as many as 20 pairs.
Aspen - the tree of life
Ancient natural forests have been preserved in the shelter of the hillsides, where giant bark-stemmed aspen trees are an ideal habitat for a large number of threatened species, including the bear (Ursus arctos), the lynx (Lynx lynx), the flying squirrel (Pteromys volans), three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) and a variety of threatened insects that thrive on rotting wood. Bracket fungi, lichens and mosses decorate the steep cliffs and tree stems. The bedrock in the park also contains alkaline rocks in places, which allows herb-rich forests to thrive in Enonniemi and on a number of islands. The tree species include goat willow (Salix caprea), aspen (Populus tremula), giant lime trees and other demanding species typical of herb-rich forests.
After a storm
The Asta storm in 2010 left a special trace in the national park. The downbursts of the storm swept over Rautalampi and Konnevesi, felling a large number of trees on the islands and mainland.
The island of Iso-Häntiäinen, where the trees were almost completely destroyed by the storm, was restored through burning in 2012. It is interesting to observe how rapidly the forest regenerates on the island after the fire.
Konnevesi is part of the ancient waterways
The Rautalampi route has been an important waterway since prehistoric times: Stone Age residential sites and a burial mound dating back to the early Metal Age can be found on the shores of lake Konnevesi. Even today it is one of Finland's few long unregulated waterways. The route originates in the small mires and ponds of Northern Savo and ends in Lake Saraavesi in Laukaa in central Finland. In the south-eastern part of the park in Toussunlinna, you can find one of Northern Savo's rare rock paintings. The memorial trees on the Pohjois-Lanstu island tell us about 19th-century belief in the afterworld.