Trails invite you to walk - hike safely in Lauhanvuori - Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark
The paths and routes of the hiking destinations in the UNESCO Global Geopark area of Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas are mostly maintained by Metsähallitus. There are also routes in the area that are maintained by, for example, municipalities or cities. You can find tips for safe hiking on this page. Also check out the Hiking guide of Metsähallitus, Parks and Wildlife.
Get to know the excursion destination in advance with the help of www.nationalparks.fi and www.excursionmap.fi. Download the 112 Suomi application to your phone, and if you plan to use your phone for off-road navigation, for example with the map application, make sure you have enough power with the power bank. Book a first aid kit and learn how to use it. Preferably move around in a group, making it easier to get help in the event of a problem. If you go out on the road alone, tell your family or comrades about your plan.
If you are going on a route, find out the location of the starting point of the route and find out in advance how to get there. Book the necessary lunch and drinks. The towns in the Geopark area have grocery stores, cafes and shops, so you get the freshest lunch when you buy them along the way.
The hiking trails in nature vary in level. The majority of the routes in the area are easy to navigate – especially in Lauhanvuori National Park and Hämeenkangas, the routes run mainly on dry soil in pine forests, where the terrain is relatively flat.
Wet sections of the route are usually equipped with duckboards or a gravel bed – they are quite easy to navigate, but the duckboards can be slippery in wet weather.
The most demanding paths are the routes through the rocky lands, such as the Alkkianvuori or Susiluola paths, which are moderately demanding based on the route classification. On these routes, a healthy footer is comfortable, but the terrain poses challenges in some places due to, for example, rocky ground or height differences on the path.
Most of the hiking trails in the Geopark area are short, less than 10 km long. However, by combining different routes, it is possible to increase the length – for example, on Lauhanvuori you can go on a hike of about 25 km. If you are looking for a longer route, you can head to Paroonin Taival – from Parkano station to the route that extends to Seitseminen National Park. There are no long hiking trails in the Geopark area.
Most of the barrier-free routes in the Geopark area are demanding barrier-free routes. They can therefore be travelled with assistance. Of the services along the route, toilets and cooking shelters, for example, are usually also accessible. The specialty of the Geopark area is the barrier-free bird tower in Mustansaarenkeidas. Accessible routes are also suitable for prams.
The accessibility of the sites maintained by Metsähallitus has been improved in recent years and their classification is being actively developed. Check the latest information on accessibility of services at www.nationalparks.fi.
The routes take the traveler to natural attractions and various destinations. As such, the natural attractions of the geopark area are safe and there is no risk of falling if you stay on well-established and marked trails. In the Geopark area, the greatest risks in terms of site safety are related to tripping or tipping over and falling into the water. However, the realization of a risk most often requires deviating from the route or taking conscious risks.
However, if you notice safety deficiencies on a marked route, report them to the route administrator. At sites maintained by Metsähallitus, notification can be made by e-mail to [email protected]
The Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area is located in western Finland, in the southern part of the Suomenselkä watershed area. From the Bohtnian coast inland, the ground level rises relatively quickly to almost 200 meters above sea level. This affects the climate and weather in the area. In the highlands it rains a lot and the weather is often cooler than in the lower areas.
In the highlands, snowy winters are quite common. The mires in the area are often frozen in mid-winter, making them easy to move around. On the slopes of Lauhanvuori, there may be a thick snow still on May Day, and in the landscapes of Hämeenkangas and Pohjankangas, roads and trail bottoms are covered with snow and ice when there are leaves on birch trees further south. Otherwise, the weather conditions are similar to those elsewhere in southern Finland.
You can check the weather-related warnings from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
Photo: Sofia Sillanpää
The routes in the Geopark area are generally marked on the terrain with path signs and coloured marks. The signs tell you what kind of outdoor activity the route is for. Some routes have signs only and no paint markings. At Metsähallitus’ sites, route markings are now carried out with colored signs affixed to the trees. The color of the waypoint is usually the same as the color of the route on the destination guide map.
On some routes, the marking method is a traditional paint sign on a tree or a separate pole erected on the ground to which the sign is painted or attached. There is not necessarily a separate marking on the longitudinal routes, as following the longitudinal trees, the walker will be sure to stay on the route.
Maps will also help you along the way. Apps with good terrain maps are available for mobile devices, some of which also have a navigation feature. On longer trips, the safest of digital solutions is a separate GPS device that is not dependent on the mobile phone network – spare batteries are easily carried in a backpack when needed. The best navigational aids are the traditional terrain map and the compass.
Camping in National parks is allowed at marked camping sites listed in the area’s guide maps and in www.nationalparks.fi. In Hämeenkangas, camping is freer, but it is recommended to camp in connection with managed resting sites. As a rule, camping in nature reserves is limited.
Campsites usually have space for a few tents, a fireplace with firewood provided, a dry toilet nearby and a table for cooking. Not all fireplaces are permitted for camping – check the information provided if unsure. Some but not all all campsites have fresh water.
Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku
There are numerous rest areas in the Geopark area – lean-to shelters, campfire sites, cooking shelters, lapp-huts and even some wilderness huts. Some of the lean-to shelters are also suitable for camping, but most of the maintained rest areas are designed for day use and may not always have a toilet or water source, for example. Check the services of the rest places at www.nationalparks.fi.
Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku
There are several drinking water points in the area’s national parks. An up-to-date information on their water quality can be found at www.nationalparks.fi and in the water quality bulletin connected to the well. There are also springs in the area, the water of which can be used as drinking water at your own risk. However, most of the water bodies in the area are brown and humus-rich and their water is not suitable for drinking water. Tip: a light water purifier is a good addition to be packed for at least overnight trips to purify drinking water.
Photo: Terttu Hermansson / Metsähallitus
In the outdoor conditions , dining in the restaurant is not always possible. In Hämeenkangas, along the routes, there are restaurant services at Kuninkaanlähde and Jämi, Lauhanvuori, at the Lauhansarvi Nature Tourist Center. It is possible to buy picnic packages from the accommodation services. It is possible to supplement your own snacks on the way to the destination, there are grocery stores in the area’s towns.
Rest areas in the area usually have the option to cook food on open fire, but the use of fire is limited during a forest fire alert. The easiest and safest way to get food warm is with a camping stove.
After the trip, it is also nice to visit a cafe or restaurant and gain strength for the trip home.
Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku
There is often a toilet building associated with serviced restroom structures. Traditional dry toilets at the most popular destinations are slowly giving way to new closed tank toilets. There is no toilet paper provided, so pack a roll if you plan to go for a constitutional.
In the geopark, moving around in nature is relatively carefree and safe. This is despite the fact that all large carnivores that live in Finnish nature are also found in Western Finland today. However, they dodge people. Indeed, hikers are mainly affected by insects.
There are few mosquitoes on dry heathlands, and more on mire and near wetlands. In midsummer, on the mires, the walker is also bothered by horse flies and black flies, and in the summer evenings you can also get to know the midges on the shores of the lakes.
Those traveling around the springs, grove-like habitats and beaches should be protected from ticks. The area is not one of the worst tick areas in Finland, but those who travel in nature should still take a daily tick check into their evening routines.
In late summer, deer flies also occur in the area, but their numbers also vary depending on the destination – there are few deer flies in popular outdoor areas, but there are more in quiet locations.
Wasps and other stinging insects belong to Finnish nature. Resting structures and, for example, barns provide shelter for nesting insects.
The common European adder is the only venomous snake found in Finland. In the natural sites of the Geopark area, you can meet them almost anywhere – in addition to the rocky lands, snakes can move around mires in the early summer. This is especially important if you move around in the wild with a pet, such as a dog.
If you come across a large mammal while hiking in the terrain, it is most likely an elk. In addition to the fast and smooth elk moving in the terrain, you can also see forest reindeer, especially in Lauhanvuori. You will probably also see white-tailed deer in the fields.
Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku
Pets are welcome in the Geopark area, but they must always be kept on a leash. In the hunting season there can be freely roaming hunting dogs in some areas – generally in late autumn. However, hunting is prohibited in national parks.
Photo: Terttu Hermansson
The destinations in the Geopark area are also well suited for winter trips. There are a skiing track networks maintained in Lauhanvuori National Park and Hämeenkangas, among others. The mires in the area are the good destinations for off-the-track skiing. Hills with rocky terrain, on the other hand, are perfect for snowshoeing. Camping sites in the national parks also serve in the winter – however, you usually need your own accommodation to spend the night outside, as there is only one wilderness hut in the area.
Photo: Laura Koivumäki
Text: Pasi Talvitie
Photos: Pasi Talvitie, unless otherwise stated