My friend and I spent the last weekend of August hiking in the Repovesi national park.
The Repovesi national park is located in Kouvola, southeast Finland approximately 2.5 hour drive from Helsinki. The park was established in 2003 and spans 15 km^2. The area was known in the past for its forest industry.
This was our second hiking trip in Repovesi. In October 2018, we did a similar weekend hike in the area. In 2018, we hiked in the eastern part of the national park but visited all fine view locations. This year, we decided to more focus on the western part and splice different trails together.
We split the hike in to three days:
- Friday: Travel from Helsinki to Repovesi by a car. Try to leave as early as possible.
- Saturday: Hiking in Repovesi.
- Sunday: Hiking in Repovesi and return to Helsinki.
We arrived at Tervajärvi on Friday evening. It was getting dark so we immediately set up camp near the Tervajärvi lake. Due to small amount of light pollution and clear skies, it was possible to do stargazing. I used the Sky Guide application to identify celestial objects.
The temperature dropped to 5 °C during the night. My sleeping bag was showing its age and it was barely keeping me warm although the comfort temperature of the bag is 0 °C.
The morning was sunny and a light haze rose from the lake. I couldn’t believe how warm it was! We eat breakfast and headed towards the Lapinsalmi hanging bridge. The bridge was a national news item in 2008 when it failed with 9 people on it. No one was hurt. The reason for the failure was overload. The rebuilt bridge opened in 2019.
On our way to Lapinsalmi bridge we used Ketunlossi (“Fox ferry”) — a cable ferry — to cross the Kapiavesi lake. A nice change to working with your feet only.
After crossing the Lapinsalmi bridge, we stopped for lunch at the nearby cooking shelter.
Our first fine view location was at Katajavuori. Accessing the hilltop requires climbing almost vertical set of steps but you’ll be rewarded with a scenic view to Repovesi. From Katajavuori we ascended towards Kuutinkanava.
Kuutinkanava is located at the center of the park and acts as a “hub” location for many trails. Built in 1912, the Kuutinkanava canal was used to float logs from Tervajärvi to Repovesi. Kuutinkanava has a well but while the water was drinkable (according to an info sign) it was slightly colored and had an iron taste to it.
We knew the night was going to be crowded. Finnish Outdoor Association Suomen Latu has held an annual Sleep outdoors event since 2014. That event happened to took place on the same night that we were staying in Repovesi.
We set up camp early near the Olhava lean-to shelter. In the next few hours more people started to set up tents nearby. By the time it was dark, there was some 30-40 people camping in the Olhava area.
Second day and departure
During the night it started to rain but it was less than forecasted. It was warmer too and my sleeping bag held up well.
We started the second day by hiking the Korpinkierros route clockwise. The first half of the route was akin to walking an average Finnish summer cottage road. The latter half was more interesting featuring rugged forests, hills and cliffs. Deer flies joined us in the forest. I recommend walking Korpinkierros counterclockwise and stopping at Olhavanvuori.
We continued south using the same trail as the on the first day heading to Kuutinkanava. We met several groups of people on our way — hikers, berry, and mushroom pickers. At Kuutinkanava we stopped for lunch. As we were finishing our meal, it started to rain. We took the Koppelonkierros towards south to our starting location.
We started heading home at half past two. After a stop at Kouvola for dinner, we arrived at Helsinki at half past five.
After this trip, I think we’ve seen all that Repovesi has to offer: we have visited almost all the sights, hiked on all trails and at least passed through all lean-to shelters. Some activities remain on water: taking a water bus through the park or canoeing.
I can highly recommend Repovesi: it’s easily accessible with a car, it has clearly marked trails, wells for drinking water, and enough terrain variety to keep hiking interesting.