Paddling national parks

A friend of mine asked what national park would be good for paddling. Good question, what would be the best and most suitable national park of Finland for paddling. When choosing one you should ask some questions from yourself first.

  1. Are you going to paddle with a kayak or canoe?
  2. How far from your home can you travel?
  3. Are you familiar with streams and whitewater paddling at all?
  4. How long a trip are you planning? How many kilometres a day are planning and are used to paddle?
  5. Do you want to paddle a circle route, starting from and ending to same place?
  6. Do you have your own kayaks/canoes or do you need to rent them?
  7. Do you want to combine paddling and hiking?
  8. Do you want to make day trips or are you going to go camping?
  9. When are you planning to go?

Knowing answers to these I was ready to suggest some places I have visited myself. In fact there are a lot of places I would recommend. These are not listed in any particular order. Just two of them includes streams of some short, others are all on lake areas, big and small.

1. Päijänne national park

  • Suggested boat: Kayak
  • Location: In central Finland, 120 km from Jyväskylä, 160 from Helsinki
  • Experience needed: Moderate/good, have to be able to cope with strong headwind and big waves on open waters
  • Suggested stay: 3-5 days
  • Circle route: Can be done, one starting point Padasjoki village
  • Rental services: In Padasjoki
  • Paddling and hiking: 8 km long hiking trail on Kelvenne island (16 km back and forth)
  • Day trips: Can be done but it takes time to reach the park and the area is quite big
  • Best time to visit: June or August, July is the busiest time though probably the warmest
  • Extra: Nice sandy beaches. See my blog post on Päijänne np
Päijänne national park – Isohieta beach

2. Kolovesi

  • Suggested boat: Kayak or canoe
  • Location: In Eastern Finland, 210 km from Jyväskylä, 380 km from Helsinki
  • Experience needed: Moderate, have to be able to cope with occasionally headwind on lake area
  • Suggested stay: 2-4 days
  • Circle route: Can be done from Käkövesi or Kirkkoranta starting places
  • Rental services: available at both starting places (booking needed in advance)
  • Paddling and hiking: not really, two short (3,3 km and 3,5 km long) nature trails
  • Day trips: not suggested, the area is large and has so many bays to paddle
  • Best time to visit: June or late August, in July and August quite popular
  • Extra: Possibility to see Saimaa ringed seal if lucky. See my blog post on Kolovesi np
Kolovesi national park – near Ukonvuori hill

3. Linnansaari

  • Suggested boat: Kayak
  • Location: In Eastern Finland, 190 km from Jyväskylä, 370 km from Helsinki
  • Experience needed: Moderate/good experience, have to be able to cope with strong headwind and big waves on open waters. I would not recommend it to inexperienced paddlers unless you really know the weather and wind forecasts.
  • Suggested stay: 4-7 days
  • Circle route: Can be done from Oravi or Rantasalmi
  • Rental services: Available at Oravi or Rantasalmi (Porosalmi)
  • Paddling and hiking: not really, a 7 km nature trail in Linnansaari island
  • Day trips: If only want to visit Linnansaari island
  • Best time to visit: June to August
  • Extra: The other park where you can spot Saimaa ringed seal. Lots of interesting islands. See my blog posts of Linnansaari np
Linnansaari national park – from Linnavuori hill

4. Tiilikkajärvi

  • Suggested boat: Canoe
  • Location: In Eastern Finland, 270 km from Jyväskylä, 510 km from Helsinki
  • Experience needed: Very modest experience, lake is quite small, for easy paddling
  • Suggested stay: 2-3 days
  • Circle route: Can be done, return partly same route, either from southern or northern access
  • Rental services: Not easily found, check the list of outdoors.fi
  • Paddling and hiking: Can be combined easily, moderate 20 km of trails
  • Day trips: Can be done if you are passing by the area
  • Best time to visit: June to August
  • Extra: Fine sandy beaches to camping. See my blog post on Tiilikkajärvi np
Tiilikkajärvi national park – the tip on the peninsula

5. Petkeljärvi

  • Suggested boat: Kayak or canoe
  • Location: In Eastern Finland, 335 km from Jyväskylä, 500 km from Helsinki
  • Experience needed: Modest/moderate, small quite sheltered lake routes if staying in the park
  • Suggested stay: 2-3 days (longer if leaving the park)
  • Circle route: From Petraniemi camp site
  • Rental services: At Petraniemi camp site
  • Paddling and hiking: A couple of trails of in the park, total 10 km) and one longer leaving the park (Taitajantaival).
  • Day trips: Most suitable for day trips, for longer trips also if leaving the park either south or north.
  • Best time to visit: June to August
  • Extra: Very peaceful place by the Russian border. See my blog post on Petkeljärvi np
Petkeljärvi national park – view from Korkeasärkkä

6. Patvinsuo

  • Suggested boat: Kayak or canoe
  • Location: In Eastern Finland, 335 km from Jyväskylä, 520 km from Helsinki
  • Experience needed: Very modest, lake area is quite small, only a few kilometers long
  • Suggested stay: 2-4 days
  • Circle route: From Suomu Nature
  • Rental services: At Suomu Nature Information Hut
  • Paddling and hiking: Very good, 80 km of trail in the park and several trail leadin out of the park
  • Day trips: If passing by it can be done but camping is suggested
  • Best time to visit: July, no rush. Should be interesting also from June to September.
  • Extra: Great camping sites on sandy beaches. Strong bear population in the park and surrounding area, avoiding people though. See my blog post on Patvinsuo np
Patvinsuo national park – Pokkaniemi camp site

7. Lemmenjoki

  • Suggested boat: Kayak or canoe
  • Location: In Lapland, 910 km from Jyväskylä, 1180 km from Helsinki
  • Experience needed: Moderate, knowing how to handle streams both up and down. River at some places as wide as a lake.
  • Suggested stay: 4-6 days
  • Circle route: From Njurkulahti to Kultasatama and back, not really a circle route
  • Rental services: At Njurkulahti
  • Paddling and hiking: Very good with 60 km of trails in the park.
  • Day trips: Not really
  • Best time to visit: June to August, July depending of the mosquitos
  • Extra: If you don’t mind pulling your canoe upstream on a few spots. Great wilderness area. See my blog post on Lemmenjoki np.
Lemmenjoki national park

8. Oulanka

  • Suggested boat: Kayak or canoe
  • Location: In Norteastern Finland, 600 km from Jyväskylä, 860 km from Helsinki
  • Experience needed: Very modest, more experience needed earlier in summer when the river is wilder
  • Suggested stay: 1-2 days
  • Circle route: No
  • Rental services: Several companies offer rental and pick-up services
  • Paddling and hiking: Very good with 80 km of trails in the park and along the canoe route
  • Day trips: Can be done easily by day trip
  • Best time to visit: June-August, amount of mosquitos vary
  • Extra: Reindeer by the river. See my blog post on Oulanka np
Oulanka national park

In southern Finland there is also Repovesi national park of which I have no paddling experience but seems to have nice and interesting waters. In parks Liesjärvi and Leivonmäki you can go for a couple days of paddling trip. In Isojärvi national park you can also paddle on 20 km long lake Isojärvi which has two camping sites on its shore.

If you are an experienced sea kayaker you can of course visit Finland’s national parks by the sea; Archipelago np (see seakayakingetc’s blog post on that), Botnia Bay np, Ekenäs Archipelago np and Gulf of Finland np.

These are the best national parks to paddle. Totally my own ranking. Combination of proven peace, good camping sites and protected nature is something that attracts me to visit these parks again and again.

2 thoughts on “Paddling national parks”

  1. I ma coming back again and again to your post 🙂
    This post was one of my inspiration for visiting Saimaa lakes area in 2014 and exploring it on a canoe.
    I think it is time to visit Finland again…

    Thanks again for sharing

    Meczek

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