Explore this amazing natural landscape

The Lake Oulujärvi hiking area

Lake Oulujärvi boasts the only lake hiking area in Finland. It covers some of the islands in the Niskanselkä northern part of the lake and the shoreline of the mainland. The islands in the hiking area have managed hiking routs, shelters and campfire areas sites as well as places for mooring boats. The Lake Oulujärvi hiking area also offers a wide range of opportunities for canoeing, boat trips, walking, fishing and other activities. The most famous tourist destination in Lake Oulujärvi and also the heart of the lake itself, is the island of Manamansalo, the fifth largest inland island in Finland.

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Lake Oulujärvi

With a surface area of almost 900 m2, Lake Oulujärvi is known as the sea of Kainuu. Lake Oulujärvi is the fourth largest lake in Finland and is geographically situated almost in the middle of Finland. Its beautiful sea-like scenery features the flat plains of Ostrobothnia, the fells of Kainuu, shining golden beaches and bare rocky islands.

Lake Oulujärvi differs from Finland’s other lakes due to its beautiful stretches of open water. Lake Oulujärvi also boasts a large number of islands. In fact 650 islands have been counted with an area bigger than 100 m2. The lake’s large size means it is home to an abundance of wildlife. You might encounter marine species such as ruddy turnstones, great cormorants, and white-tailed eagles drifting above the water. As well as picturesque views and varied wildlife, the sloping sandy beaches are also safe and pleasant places for family swimming. Lake Oulujärvi is also located inside Finland’s only lake hiking area, with managed walking trails and other related services.

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The rolling esker landscape of Rokua was created when the continental ice sheet melted about 10,000 years ago. Ponds with sparkling clear water, expanses of lichen shining like silver and beautifully curved dunes are the characteristic features of Rokua. The esker landscape and its surrounding area also feature sandy ridges shaped by the retreat of the Baltic Sea in the prehistoric period. Rokua National Park protects the area’s unique flora and landscap

This unique natural environment can be explored on skis, by snowmobile, on foot or by bike. A 70 km network of trails offers a wide range of options. The fresh, clear water of kettle holes is perfect for a dip on a hot summer’s day or for angling, trolling or ice fishing depending on the time of year. The Rokua area also offers plenty of tourism services.

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Rokua National Park

Rokua National Park was established in 1956 to protect the untouched lichen-clad forest floor and the unique geological features. Rokua National Park is among the second oldest group of national parks in Finland. Finland’s first national parks were founded in 1938. The National Park is located on the southern edge of the esker formation. It features dunes, kettle holes with mires and crystal clear groundwater pools, and ancient shore banks and plateaus. The park is also a site of untouched old-growth pine forests, rare in this region, with plenty of ancient pine trees and massive old trees. Rokua National Park is also Finland’s most important site for protecting barren forest.

Rokua National Park offers excellent opportunities for walking. There are marked trails in the park, as well as campfire sites and overnight shelter in Pitkäjärvi campsite or the wilderness hut at Pookivaara.

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The River Oulujoki Valley

The Oulujoki river is one of the largest rivers in Finland. Starting at Lake Oulujärvi, it continues through Muhos on a journey of more than 100 km to Oulu and the Gulf of Bothnia. The Oulujoki river has been an important trade and transport route for the people of the area for thousands of years. It was also the most well-known route in Finland and in Europe for transporting tar. Today the river produces large amounts of hydroelectric power even in national level and enough fish to meet the needs of recreational fishing. The river valley is also an important agricultural area thanks to its nutrient-rich soil and favourable micro-climate. Several tributaries join the Oulujoki river, the biggest of which being Kutujoki, Utosjoki, Muhosjoki and Sanginjoki.

A river valley running through beautiful countryside with plenty to see

The wide Oulujoki river runs through an idyllic rural landscape, edged with steep rock faces and lush foliage, with plenty of places to stop off when exploring off the beaten track. The river valley area offers several nature trails, camping centres, hotels and farm accommodation as well as businesses running nature activities of various kinds. The area also features historic and cultural sights, including art exhibitions, old wooden churches, historic farms and other historic buildings, some dating back to the seventeenth century. The river bank is an archeologically valuable area as a wealth of ancient monuments are found along it, some, such as depressions in the ground denoting settlement and pits to trap game dating to the Stone Age.

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Erratic boulders

Glacial erratic boulders are rocks that sheared off the bedrock and were carried by the glacial ice. The best-known erratic boulders in Rokua Geopark are Isokivi (literally “the big stone” in Rokua, and the erratic boulder at Väätäjänniemi. Isokivi first drifted on the surface of glacial lake called Ancylus Lake with a block of ice and sank to the bottom of the sea when the ice block melted. The boulder consists of Precambrian schists and granites which were crystallized and metamorphosed in ancient orogeny processes as a high mountain range was tilted up in Finland. 

Isokivi is located beside the Emperor’s Road in the south-west corner of Rokua National Park on the border between Muhos and Vaala municipalities. It has served as a boundary stone for hundreds of years, marking the boundaries of municipalities, provinces and regions. The easiest way to find the stone is to take the Emperor’s Road in Neittävä and continue on the Emperor’s Road about two kilometres after the Pitkäjärvi car park in Rokua National Park. 

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Gneiss bedrock in Kilonniemi

In Kilonniemi, visitors can see the oldest bedrock area in the EU, gneiss bedrock 2,700 – 2,600 million years old. The remains that can be seen are from the ancient landmass, which over the course of history, several times found itself in the zone where the tectonic plates collided, was folded into a mountain range and was then once more worn down into a smooth rock face. The striped and folded appearance of the gneiss bedrock bears witness to the tumultuous events it has been through. The board next to the rock describes the phases in its history.

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Isterinkoski rapids

Isterinkoski rapids are in the Poikajoki river, which falls from metamorphic greywacke two billion years old to a hollow almost equally old, filled with shale. The drop is approximately 30 metres.

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About two kilometres long, Lemmenpolku, whose name means “lovers’ path”, runs along the northern bank of the Oulujoki river on top of the granite rock. The path showcases the natural and cultural history of the Oulujoki river from the ancient landmass to its use in transporting tar and the advent of hydroelectric power. One of the most amazing sights along the way is the conglomerate rock in Kieksi. It is the oldest part of the Muhos formation, petrified gravel only visible at this precise point. The exposed rock is a protected site. Walkers can start the Lemmenpolku trail either from Pyhäkoski power station or Montta Active Camping.

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Liimanninkoski nature trail

The Liimanninkoski nature trail takes you from the light-filled sloping meadows of the Muhosjoki river through dense spruce groves and lush broad-leaved woodland to Liimanninkoski rapids foaming at the bottom of the valley. Over thousands of years, the river has carved its way deeper and deeper into the sandy soil. In places the river has created a rocky river bed and beautiful granite stone steps, over which the rush of water bubbles and falls. Soft soils have caused the river’s drastic curves, or meanders, which make the river valley such a varied walk. The favourable conditions it provides make the river valley home to a wide variety of flourishing plant life and plenty of wildlife too. Liimanninkoski is a nationally protected area of broadleaf woodland. 

The Liimanninkoski nature trail starts at the car park by Suonkyläntie, which is signposted from the main road Valtatie 22. There is a shelter next to the nature trail right by the rapids, an ideal spot to stop for a breather, gaze at the foaming water and even make a campfire. The parking area nearby also has groups of tables undercover for a sit down and a picnic.

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Manamansalo is Finland’s fifth largest inland island. Much of its 80 km shoreline is sandy beaches. The heart of the island is an extension of a sandy ridge which formed in layers on top of ancient bedrock more than 2.5 billion years old. 

Explore the beautiful natural setting of Manamansalo on the trails in the Lake Oulujärvi hiking area. These cover almost 15 km in the northern part of the island. They meander through lichen-clad ground, shimmering silver, past kettle holes filled with clear water and the shoreline of Lake Oulujärvi. The best spot to access the trails is at Teeriniemi, where there is also a hiking area information point. 

In the north-east part of Manamansalo you’ll find Kilonniemi fishing harbour and a gneiss bedrock site presenting the oldest bedrock area in the European Union. Peuranpolku, a trail that presents the history of the island dating back thousands of years, runs from Manamansalon Portti to a Monument church. More up-to-date culture can be enjoyed at Kassu Halonen’s Taidetalo.

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The Rumala, Kuvaja and Oudonrimmit mire area is a valuable complex of string bogs and raised bogs. It covers approximately 5,000 hectares. The marshes in the area are largely watery quagmires. They are also reasonably nutrient-rich and provide a valuable habitat for several rare species of animals and plants. Together with Lake Oulujärvi’s Painuanlahti bay, the area is also a prime birdwatching area. The area is covered by the Natura 2000 programme and the heart of the area is protected by a national mire protection programme.

The best way of reaching the area is via Vuolijoentie, taking the turn-off to Metsälammentie. The road takes you to the Kuvaja birdwatching tower, an excellent lookout point for incredible views over the marsh. The tower also has noticeboards with information about the wildlife in the marsh.

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Literally “the Well of Deepness”, Syvyydenkaivo is Finland’s deepest kettle hole with a measured depth of more than 50 metres. A bog has formed at the bottom, about eight metres thick, which covers part of the actual depth of the kettle hole.

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Utajärvi geological time trail

Geological time trail in Utajärvi takes you on a journey through time through the history of Finland’s bedrock. The first rock in the park’s time trail is Siurua gneiss 3.5 million years old. It is also the oldest known rock in the European Union.

Next to the Geological time trail there is an information point located in a woodshed. It shares information about nature, culture and tourism services as well as about interesting attractions and hiking trails in River Oulujoki Valley, Rokua and Lake Oulujärvi areas. A restaurant, cafeteria, gas station and market are located in vicinity.

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