Hiking trails in Karelia

Hiking trails in Karelia

Karelia is one of the symbols of hiking to Russia. It is here that many generations of tourists come with backpacks and tents, burn fires and sing songs. The unique nature of Karelia with its numerous lakes and rivers, thickets of the most beautiful Karelian birch, waterfalls and glacial landscapes always attracts lovers of ecological outdoor recreation.

the best eco-paths in Karelia

Hiking in Karelia is great for groups with children. Most of the trail runs along dirt roads and forest trails.

  • Kivach Nature Reserve, route "Sopokhsky Bor - Ferruginous Springs". The most famous place of the reserve is the Kivach waterfall, which is formed by the Suna River. And along the banks of the river there is an ecological trail "Sopokhsky Bor-Zhelezistye Kluchi", which, if desired, can be divided into two sections. It passes through an ancient pine forest, some of the trees in which are up to 300 years old, through the waterfall itself and leads to a swamp with ferruginous springs. The length of the route is 7 km.
  • Kalevalsky National Park, route "Sacred stones of shamans". Once upon a time, pagan Sami lived in these places - this path tells about their beliefs. In these forests, there are a great many mysterious stones remaining from the glacier, which were revered by local shamans as sacred. The path goes along the hill where, according to legend, the forest spirit of Vierista dwells, past three sacred stones: the Sacrificial Table, the Head of the Shaman and the Bear's Head, the fallen tree of the Witch's Staff, and ends at a spring where, after all this communication with the spirits, you can take a bath. The length of the route is 2 km.
  • Kostomuksha nature reserve, route "In the fairy forest". An excursion route through a pine forest to Lake Kamennoye and the "Tsar's threshold", which is formed by the waters of the Kamennaya River: it flows along the bed of glacial boulders and forms colorful rapids. The length of the Tsar's threshold is 200 meters, and you can hear it almost along the entire path. But he is not the only one, after him the river forms several more rapids. The length of the route is 6 km.
  • Kostomushki nature reserve, route "Trail of peddlers". A well-maintained trail for children, which is a wooden footbridge through the forest. Part of the ancient path along which traders-peddlers walked: past Lake Kamenny, Kamppi hut, and "Devil's Field", along which stones were scattered not by devils, but by glaciers. The route exists in two versions: full - 10.5 km. and a short one for children - 2.5 km.
  • Kandalaksha nature reserve, route "Luvengskie tundra". The reserve is located on the shores of the White Sea, and the trail runs along the southern slope of the Luvengskiye tundra upland. The mountains are quite low here - only 300-400 m above sea level, but the trail allows you to clearly see how landscapes and biota change: first, a pine coastal forest, then a spruce forest with blueberries, then thickets of crooked Karelian birch, and then a snowfield that never melts and areas of real tundra, where only shrubs and mosses grow. The length of the route is 6.5 km.
  • Paanajärvi, Mount Kivakka route. The national park stretches around Lake Paanajärvi, and on its shore is Mount Kivakka, on which there were once many Sámi sanctuaries - seids. A seyd could just be some outstanding place: an interesting stone or a beautiful rock, but most often these are structures: stone pyramids, boulders "on legs", etc. The largest seid is located almost at the top of the mountain, and besides it there are several lakes formed in tectonic depressions. The route is landscaped - there are walkways over difficult streams, a picnic area with a fire, trash cans and toilets. The length of the route is 5 km.
  • Paanajärvi, route “Astervajärvi nature trail”. The trail passing by Lake Astervajärvi, swamps, glades that once was the Russian-Finnish border, an old water mill and ends with Lake Paanajärvi. On the way, several landscapes are replaced: here is a forest in which orchids-venus-shoes grow, and a former flood meadow, which has become a swamp. There are places along the way where you can light a fire and rest. The length of the route is 8.5 km.

Multi-day routes in Karelia

Vodlozersky Reserve is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Karelia. It is used for rafting and fishing and for multi-day hiking routes. The most popular and uncomplicated route is from the village of Varishpelda to the stolka Luza on the site of the former village. It runs along the valley of the Ileksa River to Lake Luzskoye. This is a full-fledged eco-trail, with posters, markings, places for rest and overnight stays. The length of the route is 40 km.

Mount Vottovaara is the most mysterious and mystical place in Karelia, a plateau on which a mysterious force has installed a variety of stones and boulders. Most likely, it was a glacier, and rains and winds completed its work, but now lovers of all kinds of esotericism gather in this place. But the places here are really very beautiful - and it makes sense to go here for a couple of days with a tent. Highways end at the foot of the plateau, it itself takes about 6 km, and the ascent to it is quite steep in places, and the routes are not marked everywhere. As a rule, they start here from the village of Gimola - the last point that can be reached by car. The length of the route is 10-20 km.

Petroglyphs of the White Sea is another hike to a famous landmark, which can be packed in a day, or can be extended for two or three days. Petroglyphs are various images left by primitive people, very ancient and still not solved. Most of the petroglyphs are in the town of Zalavruga, 12 km away. from Belomorsk, so you can go there on foot from there, through the village of Vygostrov and along the dry bed of the Vyga river, of which only a stone bed remains. In Zalavruga there is an open-air petroglyph museum, and next to the museum there is an equipped tourist parking where you can spend the night, or just relax and turn back. The length of the route from Belozersk and back is 25 km.

Winter tourism in Karelia

In Karelia you can walk not only in summer, but also in winter. Winters are quite mild and snowy here, so you can come here for winter sports.

Most of the short eco-trails are open all year round and in winter they are retrained from hiking to skiing - such, for example, "Trail of peddlers" and "In the fairy forest". The famous Kivach waterfall is almost covered with ice, but the water continues to flow sometimes under the ice crust, and sometimes breaking through it. In winter, there are trails around the lake, a former marble canyon, in Ruskeala Park.

Winter skiing in Kizhi is especially popular - you can get to Kizhi themselves on the ice, and then explore the masterpieces of wooden architecture on skis.


In Vodlozersky National Park. Photo: Igor Georgievsky

Digits first. Reserves, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and botanical gardens are officially called specially protected natural areas. They occupy about 5.5% of the area of ​​Karelia.

The oldest is the Kivach nature reserve (since 1931). During this time, it has changed its area, the territory has increased fivefold. The reserve is the strictest form of nature protection: it is forbidden to be here without an attendant, only forestry services and science work.

But in recent years, excursion zones have also been opened in reserves. Tourists who come to see how the "diamond mountain falls" usually walk through the territory of two hundred meters - to the waterfall and back. And they do not know that "Kivach" now offers unique routes for small groups (such as "One and a half thousand steps into nature").

Today there are ecological paths on the territory of all reserves in Karelia.

Eight protected areas of Karelia are under federal subordination (see the map). There are much more in republican subordination - 141. And the figure is constantly changing.

- From time to time the Ministry of Natural Resources publishes a good collection of specially protected areas, - says Elena Kuznetsova, a leading specialist in environmental education of the Directorate of Regional Protected Areas of Karelia. - And it happens that it becomes outdated even in the publishing house, because just at that moment two new zakazniks are being created.

- This year a new category has appeared - natural and recreational territories, - continues the topic of the head of the Directorate Nikolai Palagichev. - Places of mass visits that experience the greatest anthropogenic pressure. Now we have two such pilot projects: the area around Lososinnoye Lake and the shore of Lake Onega near the Vodnik camp. Places where all of Petrozavodsk goes to sunbathe and swim in summer.

Nikolay Palagichev, Head of the Directorate of Specially Protected Natural Areas of Regional Importance of the Republic of Karelia. Photo: IA "Respublika"/Leonid Nikolaev

- The visiting regime here will, of course, be softer in comparison with a wildlife reserve or a national park, anyone can come to Lososinnoye to relax. Paid services will soon appear here: covered gazebos where you can stay with a company, pleasure boats and catamarans. It takes money to keep order.

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