Karkali Strict Nature Reserve is a tiny nature conservation area located in Lohja, Southern Finland. It has limited public access: all visitors must stay on marked trails. This is a day trip destination and easy to visit, if you have a car or a bike.
This reserve has an area of only 1 km2 and is on a narrow peninsula in the middle of Lake Lohjanjärvi. The reserve was founded in 1964 to preserve an exceptionally valuable deciduous forest where linden and hazel are the main trees and the soil is calcareous.
Karkali Peninsula has been inhabited since the 16th century. There were three houses in the area and the last one of these had dwellers until 1910. There are still some remains left. The small meadow in the middle of the reserve is a former yard of one of these houses and it is kept open by annual reaping. In 1902 the archbishop of Finland Gustaf Johansson built a villa and a trail network for collecting hazelnuts. Now the villa is gone but the trails serve as nature trails for visitors.
In Southwest Finland the Norway Spruce is an expansive species from the east and the Finnish Forest Administration occasionally cut down spruces in the reserve as they form a serious threat to the rare deciduous forest species. The trunks are left to the ground to form rotten wood, important for the ecology.
From the Finnish Highway 1 nearest intersections are number 22 to Hossantie and number 21 to Tavolantie these take you to the road 1070 (Karstuntie). From Karstuntie there is a road sign to Karkali. There is a parking lot at the 1 entrance of the reserve.
The nearest bus stop is served by Lohja-Sammatti local buses. The stop is at the Karstuntie about 8 km away from the entrance.
By bike the nature reserve is 18 km from the centre of Lohja.
Landing by boat is forbidden except to one place on the southern shore of the reserve. The landing point may also be used for swimming.
Fees and permits
There are no fees to access the reserve.
Within the strict nature reserve the right to access does not apply. Visitors must stay on marked trails. Hunting or fishing, collecting plants, invertebrates or stones, as well as picking flowers, edible berries or mushrooms is forbidden. These rules apply also to the dead specimens.
Dogs are allowed but may not be loose.
Avoid entering it in late autumn and winter, not to disturb overwintering bats.
See and do
The marked trail forms 0.5 km, 1 km, 3 km, and 6 km long loops. All the trails but the longest one are fairly easy to hike. The trails start and end to the same location next to the entrance. There are some info plates on the trails. Only the longest trail reaches the point of the peninsula.
Enjoy the nature, especially the number of bird and plant species. The calcarious soil is uncommon and makes some rare plants to blossom here, so you may spot these from the trail. From the longest trail there are nice views to the lake Lohjanjärvi.
Swimming in the lake is allowed from one sandy shore on the southern shore of the reserve. Notice that the lake Lohjanjärvi has steep shores.
1 Torhola cave is located 3 kilometers outside the reserve. It is the largest erosion cave in Finland. There is a parking lot by the road and a nature trail to the cave.
Informaton about Karkali and the surrounding area may be asked from Metsähallitus Customer Service in Ekenäs (Tammisaari).
The nearest shops are in Lohja centre, some 18 km away.
Eat and drink
There is a small 1 meadow with a table and few benches in the middle of the reserve. Bring your own food and drinks. Making any kind of fire, including disposable bbq's, is forbidden. Make sure you to take all your waste with you. There is a 2 spring next to the trail close to the parking lot, but the water is not safe for drinking. The 3 dry toilets are next to the parking lot.
Staying overnight in the nature reserve is forbidden.
There are no major threats in the area. Beware of the ticks. Do not enter deeper parts of the Torhola cave alone as mobile phones won't work inside the rock. If you wish to swim, remember that lake Lohjanjärvi is very deep and the bottom has steep drops.
- The other nature trails and nature conservation areas in Lohja.