My friend and I spent the first weekend of September hiking in the Isojärvi national park.
Isojärvi national park (lit. big lake) is located in Kuhmoinen, about 90 km from the city of Tampere and 200 km from Helsinki. Isojärvi is part of a cluster of national parks within similar driving distance from Helsinki: Southern Konnevesi, Pyhä-Häkki and Päijänne.
This was our first hike in Isojärvi but I had visited Pyhä-Häkki and Southern Konnevesi before.
I was originally planning to do a fall hike in the Lapland, in the area bordering Norway, Sweden and Finland. However, due to family issues I had to scale down my original plan and do weekend hike instead.
I had bought several new gear for my intended Lapland solo hike: a new tent, a new sleeping pad and a satellite communicator. I got to use these in the weekend hike instead. While Isojärvi is in southern Finland, there were areas in the park where mobile phone network was not reachable and I relied on my satellite communicator.
We split the hike into three days:
- Friday: Travel from Helsinki to Isojärvi by a car. Try to leave as early as possible.
- Saturday: Hiking in Isojärvi.
- Sunday: Hiking in Isojärvi and return to Helsinki.
We arrived at Kaatvuori parking space in the evening. Only few cars remained at the space and, as we were starting our hike, they left too. We started heading towards Kalalahti, 1,5 km hike from the parking space. This where we spent the night.
Weather was clear but it was getting dark earlier and earlier. Headlamps were needed when setting up the camp. My friend slept in a tarp and I used my new tent for the first time.
There were several tent sites available but they were on gravel which is not the best surface for aluminium tent stakes. The sites were even and I was able to sleep without slipping with my sleeping pad.
From Kalalahti we started hiking the park clockwise: Vahterjärvi, Latokuusikko and Heretty. The day was though: it started pouring in the afternoon and the terrain was difficult to hike. We also managed to follow a wrong trail as we hiked from Heretty to Kuorejärvi, our second tent site.
There’s a small cafe Heretty and you can rent fat bikes for biking in the park. There’s also a well.
There were at least 3 wooden camping sites in Kuorejärvi. As my tent isn’t free standing, I couldn’t use them. It might have been possible to tie the tent stakes between the planks. I decided not to do this it as it was getting dark and it was raining.
We walked approximately 13 km on the first day.
Second day and departure
During the morning it was 8 degrees Celsius and humid. I had woken up several times during the night because of my matres ended up moving by itself on the tent floor. There was also wasps flying about and they tried to enter my tent.
We started hiking to the east towards Lortikka. Compared to the first day, hiking got easier since we’re following a mountain biking trail — scenery though suffered.
We stopped at Lortikka for lunch. There’s a well, wooden benches and tables. The water in the well has too much fluoride but should be fine for occasional use.
From Lortikka we continued following the biking trail until we arrived at the Kaatvuori parking space. From there we started heading back to Helsinki.
I got to test my new gear in a more relaxed environment than just going to the deep end and hiking alone in Lapland with new equipment. I started to notice that my backpack doesn’t have the features that I like anymore. I would like larger mesh pocket where I could stuff wet gear. The chest straps could be used to carry water bottles. Overall I was very happy with my purchases.
We didn’t explore any of the small islands in the lake Isojärvi. It’s possible to rent a boat from Kalalahti and then visit e.g. Reunusaari island for an more exotic tent site.