Southern Konnevesi National Park is one of Finland’s 40 national parks open to everyone to explore on foot or by boat. We made a short trip to this new national park located in Konnevesi and Rautalampi in the Finnish lakeland.
My post shows you what you can do in Southern Konnevesi and how to get there. We took a boat but you can also reach many parts of the park by car.
My dream has been to stay overnight in a national park and I now I’ve done that! In this place, far away from everything! In a Finnish national park.
National Parks in Finland
Finland has in all 40 national parks open to everyone. They exist all around the country each of them representing the pure, original nature of the area. This network of national parks shows Finland’s nature at its best: nature sights and national landscapes, all open to everyone to enjoy.
Finland adapted the US model in creating its national parks. The parks contain a visitor center, marked hiking trails and shelters, campfire sites and huts for overnight stay. All national parks are managed by Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland.
More information on Finnish national parks on the Parks & Wildlife Finland website nationalparks.fi
Southern Konnevesi National Park
Southern Konnevesi National Park (Finnish: Etelä-Konneveden kansallispuisto) presents the typical nature of Central Finland. It is in the Finnish lakeland and includes vast inland lake areas with a maze of islands that can be explored by boat or canoe.
The park also contains an extensive stretch of mainland on lake Konnevesi’s eastern shore. This area consists of hilly forest terrain with high cliffs and unspoilt forest areas. The mainland can be explored on foot.
Location of Southern Konnevesi National Park
Southern Konnevesi National Park (Etelä-Konneveden kansallispuisto) is located in the municipalities of Konnevesi and Rautalampi that partly belong to Central Finland and partly to Northern Savonia.
The driving distance from Helsinki is 327 km (4 hours) and from the closest cities Jyväskylä and Kuopio 90 km (1-1,5 hours). Jyväskylä and Kuopio are the closest airports.
Map of Southern Konnevesi National Park
The official park map gives you a good overview of the national park and its services.
Click in the map to get it in a bigger format (PDF) on the national park website. The link will open up a Southern Konnevesi National Park Brochure and Map.
24 Hours in Southern Konnevesi National Park
Me and my husband wanted to explore Southern Konnevesi but we only had a very limited time at our disposal. Yet we wanted to do all this: explore the lake and the islands, hike in the forest and try to stay overnight in a national park since we never did that before.
Some planning was needed before we could fit it all in 24 hours.
Our 24 Hour Trip Schedule
This became our schedule:
- Water taxi on the lake and island hopping
- Staying in a hut on the mainland
- Two short hikes in the forest
- Water taxi back and more island hopping
So we went ahead. We booked a water taxi and searched for sites to stay overnight. And we really had good luck with us, the only hut in the park was available! There’s nothing wrong with a tent or a shelter but we took the hut.
1. Water Taxi on the Lake and Island Hopping
Both Konnevesi and Rautalampi offer a choice of water transportation services that are listed on the national park website partners page. Private boat connections exist at least from Häyrylänranta and Kivisalmi on the Konnevesi side and also from the Rautalampi side in the east.
You can reach all these boat piers by a public bus from Jyväskylä and Kuopio and they all provide ample parking space if you arrive by car. All water taxis charge about the same, EUR 120/hour. Or maybe you might want to join a group tour instead as a cheaper option (EUR 30/person)?
The water taxi we booked happened to be in Rautalampi so our journey began there. And off we went, the Finnish flag waving in the wind! In case you want to do the same you’ll find the contact information here: Rautalaine
The boating time from Rautalampi to the national park mainland is 30 min but the more island hopping the more time you will need.
On the Rautalampi side the first attraction is an old rock painting, at the lower end of the waterway.
Toussunlinna Rock Paintings
Toussunlinna in the southeastern part of the national park has rock paintings on a deep vertical cliff. The paintings can only be seen from a boat or from the ice in winter when the lake is frozen. Notice that parts of the year the paintings are underwater.
It’s hard to see what the painting is about but it should be a human figure and one or two elks. I think one of the elks is clearly visible (on the right):
There are not many rock paintings in this part of Finland, the next one is in Laukaa some 50 km away.
From the rock paintings we first had to take the same route back and then turn west to Lake Hankavesi where the park gate is located. Hankavesi again is connected to Lake Konnevesi by a narrow stream.
So we have to get further west, to Lake Konnevesi. The place where you can do that is the Konnekoski rapids. Here the water streams with a speed since the height difference between the lakes is 70 cm.
As you can believe this is a favorite spot for fishermen, easy to access from the national park road too.
Konnekoski rapids, Southern Konnevesi National Park
Behind the trees: one of the summer cottages at Konnekoski rapids
Konnekoski waters are almost too shallow for boating. That’s why you have to pass with full speed. A bit scary but this is the way to get through the rapids.
Lake Konnevesi and Ospreys
This is Lake Konnevesi with lots of islands. Many of the smallest islands are occupied by ospreys (in Finnish: kalasääski), large birds feeding on fish. Ospreys are typical of Southern Konnevesi National Park, they need sturdy trees and open space around their nest to keep an eye of the surroundings.
On the small island above you can see an osprey nest, on the tree in the middle of the island. And below there’s another one. And you can find many more of them, there are 17 osprey nests in all.
We tried to stay at a distance but made the huge birds worried. They were flying above us and making a noise to scare us. So we continued your journey, in a gleaming sunshine.
Lake Konnevesi osprey
Another osprey watching its nest
Lake Konnevesi gleaming sunshine
And then, the first island stop! Iso Pyysalo (the big Pyysalo, there’s also a small one). Iso Pyysalo has a wonderful nature, a pine and birch tree forest with wild rosemary that smells so good… It smells like Central Finland.
Iso Pyysalo nature
I could stay here! There’s a sandy beach and a more rocky one, a campfire site, a shelter where you could sleep and a toilet. What else do you need?
Iso Pyysalo lakeshore
Water taxi at Iso Pyysalo
Sandy beach of Iso Pyysalo
M/S Autere, Konnevesi
But we had to rush on, we only had 24 hours and a lot to see. So we headed to the mainland, to Majaniemi jetty where we met a group of national park visitors.
2. Staying in a Hut on the Mainland
And we stayed the night in this little hut! I didn’t know the hut was this pretty, there were no photos on the website. Majaniemi Fishing Hut is a jewel. It’s so simple and so original.
Majaniemi fishing hut window
So we rushed on shore and spent the rest of the day enjoying the fishing hut atmosphere. The tour group left and we were the only humans here, just having water birds as our neighbors.
Southern Konnevesi National Park nature
Our neighbor next door: a birdhouse
Majaniemi lake view
Or, we were not totally isolated, one or two canoes came by during the evening. Southern Konnevesi is building an infrastructure for canoeing with specific canoe landing sites all marked on the park map.
Canoeing in Southern Konnevesi National Park
Majaniemi lake view
If there’s some breeze during the day it usually gets calm towards the evening. Evenings and early mornings are the most beautiful times of the day.
But for us Finns evenings mean sauna time and also Majaniemi of course has its own sauna. Very old like the hut itself, and by the lake so you can take a dip afterwards.
Sauna and Dinner by the Lake
So Clas went to heat the sauna and I took a glass of wine and sat down and planned tomorrow’s walking route.
Majaniemi sauna, Southern Konnevesi National Park
Planning our national park stay & waiting for the sauna
It was both a smoke sauna and a normal one, you can choose which stove you use for heating. We were advised to use the normal stove which we did. That takes a lot less time too and you will get hot water in addition.
The sauna was very basic and there was no floor, just the bare ground under you feet. But the löyly was excellent, and nothing can beat the smell of smoke sauna…
After the sauna all you need is a dinner which we prepared on campfire, from delicious ingredients (half-made portions which we heated on fire).
Potatoes and vegetables in sour cream, pike sausage, bread rolls, blueberry pie in rye dough with vanilla…. Where did we get all this? The small lunch restaurant Hetki in Rautalampi provides you with a meal box according to your wishes, from picnic ingredients to a full menu. Here’s their contact information in case you got interested: Ravintola Hetki
Southern Konnevesi National Park midnight
If you liked Majaniemi here is the website of the organization taking care of the hut: Kalaja Retkeily
3. Two Short Hikes in the Forest
Three Mountains Hike (Kolmen vuoren vaellus)
In the morning we had already spent more than half of the 24 hours in Southern Konnevesi National Park and it was hiking time! We took the path from Majaniemi to the Three Mountains Hike (Kolmen vuoren vaellus) and made a part of it, just a part.
The whole Three Mountains hike is 14 km and starts by the campfire shelter of Vuori-Kalaja but if you arrive from the lake you can join the route at different points.
Blueberry hill, Three Mountains Hiking Trail
The trail is marked in the terrain with painted yellow marks.
Blueberries cover most of the ground
Three Mountains Hiking Trail, Southern Konnevesi National Park
The Three Mountains Hiking Trail is like a forest path, winding and soft under your feet. I love this! And I love the forest! Wherever we go in the world I’m trying to find a forest. It can be a rainforest, a jungle or an ancient kauri forest, or a swamp. But this is a Finnish forest with pine, spruce and birch trees. And wild flowers:
The Three Mountains Hike runs all round the rugged Enonniemi peninsula and you can enjoy fantastic lake views from Enonranta boat jetty on. Look at these views! Walking is slow, partly for the winding path and partly for stopping all the time for the scenery.
Sometimes it’s more like a wetland, small pines and wild rosemary below the trees. In this kind of places you might be bothered by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes tend to avoid lake shores that have some breeze from the lake.
The shoreline looks very special in places. The rocky shore looks yellow below the water, here seen from the walking path high above on the cliff.
Lake Konnevesi shore seen from the Three Mountains Hiking Trail
Loukkuvuori Hike (Loukkuvuoren lenkki)
We walked along the Three Mountains Hike until there was a turn-off to Loukkuvuori. The Loukkuvuori hiking trail (Loukkuvuoren lenkki) is a 2.8 km loop track from Enonranta boat jetty to the top of Loukkuvuori mountain and back. So there is a climb but not a too demanding one provided you’re wearing walking shoes. This is before the climb starts:
Loukkuvuori Hiking Trail, Southern Konnevesi National Park
Vegetation along Loukkuvuori Hike
Walking in Southern Konnevesi National Park
Trail crossing, Southern Konnevesi National Park
But higher up on the hill the nature looks different. There are lichens and mosses and more fallen tree stems across the path.
Grey lichen on Loukkuvuori Hike
The top of Loukkuvuori
Loukkuvuori offers the best panorama of Southern Konnevesi, splendid views of the national park and the lakeland. It all looks fantastic on a warm summer day and it must be that at all times of the year. Wish to be back in autumn!
National park scenery from Loukkuvuori
From the Loukkuvuori summit the path continues down to Enonranta, a moderate descent and very good to walk, at least in dry weather.
And then, we reached Enonranta and the lake! Hard to decide which is more beautiful of the two, the forest or the lake. Maybe the lake?
This is the Enonranta boating jetty that on one side has a landing platform for canoes. The south facing Enonranta is an ideal spot for an overnight stay, there is a good spacious shelter with an indoor campfire and a toilet.
Enonranta shelter seen from the jetty
Hiking in Enonranta, Southern Konnevesi National Park
After Enonranta we still had a few hundreds of meters to go, to Majaniemi where the water taxi was going to meet us in an hour. 24 hours almost done! Nothing wrong with this scenery either…
Walk from Enonranta to Majaniemi, Southern Konnevesi National Park
Loukkuvuori and Three Mountains Hikes on the Map
Maybe you want to see the hikes on the map? All Southern Konnevesi National Park hiking trails are marked on this official hiking map.
Click on the map to open it up in a bigger format (PDF) on the national park website:
4. Water Taxi Back and More Island Hopping
And then the last two hours of our 24 hour Southern Konnevesi trip: a boat trip back to the mainland. Our water taxi came and wanted to show us two more islands, Lapinsalo and Lanstu.
This is Lapinsalo island almost in the middle point of Lake Konnevesi. Lapinsalo is said to be the place where Santa Claus and his little helpers spend their summer vacation. That must be true since I’ve seen a video where they all were paddling to the island.
We however didn’t meet Santa. Instead we met a group of visitors, maybe looking for him. They had brought their cakes and biscuits which they enjoyed outside the newly built Lapinsalo shelter.
And someone was camping on the island, maybe Santa Claus? Lapinsalo with its sheltered bay must be a great spot for camping, and it’s one of the camping sites we had in mind before finding the hut.
Lapinsalo has a brand new pier, opened in 2017. The national park was established in 2014 and they are investing in new facilities.
Lapinsalo jetty, Konnevesi
M/S Myllykoski, Konnevesi
Lapinsalo shoreline, Southern Konnevesi National Park
But our boat was waiting for us and we still had one island to go, the Lanstu with a somewhat special history.
We went on land and climbed the rock, and saw fallen trees. These trees had marks on them, and crosses. How come?
Initials on Lanstu tree trunk
Cross on Lanstu tree
Here’s the story: in the 1800’s bodies of deceased were transported by boat from Konnevesi to the main graveyard of the area located in Rautalampi. All boats made a half way stop in this narrow strait and the initials of the deceased were carved on the trees. The idea was to prevent the bodies from floating back to life along this magic strait. They believed this strait was the border between the world and the afterworld!
Most of the trees have since fallen in storms but the few of them we saw still remain. Lanstu also has a canoe landing site from where you can get to the rocks.
But now our 24 hours have gone and Lanstu ends our boat trip to Southern Konnevesi National Park. Hope to be back in this beautiful place one day!
You will find covering information on Southern Konnevesi and its services on the national park’s website and the Nationalparks.fi website again is the official portal of all national parks in Finland.
Boating in Southern Konnevesi National Park, Finland
Southern Konnevesi National Park / Etelä-Konneveden kansallispuisto, summer 2017
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