The park was founded in 1982.
The park is in the Suomenselkä water shed area, and features rocky soil, open and wooded mires, lakes, ponds and forests. Hight differences are small.
Flora and fauna
The park features Southern Finland’s largest mire wilderness. It also features old-growth forest, especially along Koirajoki and in the Salamanperä Strict Nature Reserve. Most forest in the park had been in commercial use until the park was established, and restoration work has been carried out. The mires were mostly in natural state, and those few dried are also being restored.
The park emblem features the wild Finnish forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) and three of the trails are named after it: peura is its Finnish name, the male is hirvas and the female vaadin. The forest reindeer was the most important game in northern Europe until nearly extinct in the 19th century, surviving only in Russia. Migrating reindeer formed a Finnish population along the border, from which two males and eight females where brought to Koirajärvi (by Koirasalmi) in 1979–1980. Now the Suomenselkä population is about a thousand heads. In addition to the Finnish populations, mostly here and along the border, there are still populations in Russia, which although quite large may be threatened by poaching.
Paw-prints of wolves and wolverine can be seen if you are lucky. The elk is still the easiest to spot large animal.
The mires have a population of waders, ducks, gulls, whooper swan and grouse.
The main visitor centre is the Koirajärvi information hut in the park.
Car is the main option to get to the park unless you like walking (or take a taxi ride). From Möttönen or Kivijärvi the distance is 10 km along a numbered road and another 10 km on gravel. Some visitors have had difficulties finding the way, so be careful with your map or navigator. Koirasalmi, Huttukangas and Erijärvi parking areas are open also in winter.
There are coach and bus connections some distance from the park, but sparsely enough that you should check them before deciding on visit dates.
Note that there are several Perhontie, Kivijärventie etc., as more than one road towards a settlement is named after it, often so that the name changes at the municipal border, to point at the settlement in the other end.
For 1 Perho centre or 2 Möttönen (not all services) there are coaches from Karleby (1 hr 20 min–2 hr) along national road 13 via Kaustinen, mostly continuing via Kyyjärvi and Saarijärvi to Jyväskylä, some all the way to Helsinki. In weekdays there should be a bus connection to Salamajärvi. Also Kinnula and Kivijärvi on national road 58 should be reachable by coach.
- Take a coach to the village Möttönen in Perho. Continue by taxi from the TB petrol station to the park (1 Sysilampi, 3 Huttukangas or 2 Koirasalmi, 16–20 km). By car, follow Kivijärventie (road 6520) from Möttönen for some 10 km, turn left to Koirasalmentie, there should be signs. If coming from the east, use Perhontie (the same road) from 4 Kivijärvi, turn right to the other end of Koirasalmentie after some 10 km. There might be school buses or similar along road 6520.
- From Möttönen there is some 7 km to the 3 Joutenhovi entrance board and parking (likewise along road 6520). Close by is the Joutenhovi Nature Tourism Centre of Perho. From the trailhead it is 10 km to the park proper, by the Peuranpolku trail, 1 km more to Sysilampi.
- Peuranpolku, part of the international E6 hiking trail, leads through the park. To get to the park from the north you can take a bus from Perho or 5 Kinnula and get off 3 km after respectively before the 6 Salamajärvi village (in the school year, weekdays only – and check whether you have to walk from the village). The trail, here also called Hirvaan kierros, crosses the road near the bus stop (7 Erijärvi). There is a parking area nearby. Walk 1.5 km by the trail (close to the Salamajärvi lake shore) to get to the park; 7 km to Sysilampi and 13 km from Erijärvi to Koirasalmi.
- 8 Koirajokivarsi/Saaresmaankoski, also on the Salamajärventie/Mökäläntie/Perhontie (road 7520) between Kinnula and Perho, 13 km from Kinnula, is at the border of the park on the Hirvaan kierros trail, 10 km from Koirasalmi.
- Also along the Kivijärventie/Perhontie (road 6520) is the 9 Risuperä parking area, from where a 7 km trail goes through the Salamanperä Strict Nature Reserve to Koirasalmi.
Reservations and information
- Koirasalmi Nature Information Hut, Koirasalmentie 1220 (not recognized by many navigators) (at Koirasalmi), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. May and September Sa–Su 10:00–16:00; Jun–Aug daily 10:00–16:00, also in some autumn and winter holidays Sa–Su or daily. Guiding, hut reservations, equipment rental (boats, canoes, forest skis, snowshoes, kicksleds etc.), meal services, guided tours etc. The information hut is accessible by wheelchair, as is a toilet, a fireplace, a 2×300 m trail and a fishing spot.
- Metsähallitus, ☏ . Tu–F 10:00–14:00. Information on the national park.
Fees and permits
There are no fees for visiting the park or for hiking. Also parking is free.
Deviating from trails is allowed in much of the park, and everywhere except 1 March–15 July. Following trails most of the time is still recommended, to minimize tear.
In the nature reserve, picking berries etc. may be forbidden. If you intend to do anything that affects the environment there, check its regulations.
There are rental huts, cabins and saunas and some other non-free accommodation options. There is a fee at the caravan area at Koirasalmi, which has electricity.
Equipment, such as rowing boats, canoes, kayaks, backpacks, snow shoes and child carrier backpacks can be rented at Koirasalmi. Checking availability is recommended.
A fishing permit is needed for fishing in lake Koirajärvi. You might also want a general fishing permit.
There are 60 km marked trails in the park. In the central part of the park, and in the Salamanperä Strict Nature Reserve by the park, trails have to be followed in the nesting season 1.3–15.7. Duckboards can be flooded in the spring. Some terrain is rocky, meaning sturdy footwear supporting also the ankles is recommended, unless you know you can cope.
Some of the trails can be used for cross-country skiing in the winter. There are no maintained tracks and markings can be hidden by snow and frost, so some careful use of the map is needed. You can also choose your own routes; skiing on the open mires gives peace to the mind, but keep out of restricted areas in the spring.
Canoeing and rowing is possible, except in the restricted areas.
- Bogs and mires; there is a bird watching tower at Heikinjärvenneva.
- Old-growth forests, especially along Koirajoki and in the nature reserve.
- Peaceful forest lakes
- Remains of old tar pits (by lake Koirajärvi and elsewhere)
- Old floating dam and remains of old logger’s cabin (Pyydyskoski)
There are two nature trails presenting the nature of the area, both starting by Sysilampi Open Wilderness Hut:
- Lasten luontopolku (“Kids’ Nature Trail”), 1.5 km
- Pakosuon kierros (“Pakosuo Mire Loop”), 4.5 km
- Rent a sauna for €9/night (no person limit!) with its own pond/lake.
- Fishing. Angling and ice fishing is allowed as elsewhere, except in Koirajärvi (permit needed) and in the restricted areas (1.3–15.7). The peak season for fishing is from mid June until mid August, the most popular sites being the lakes Heikinlampi, Koirajärvet, Ahvenlampi and Kaunislampi.
- Berry picking: cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) and cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) on the open fens and blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) in the forest. Mind the restricted areas.
- Swimming is allowed except in the restricted areas. There is a sandy shore at Koirasalmi, by the campfire shelter. There are swimming platforms at the cabins of Koiralampi and Sysilampi.
- Walk along the educational swamp walk (4 km long)
- Cross-country skiing
- Hiking trips
Nature stuff at the national park's offices.
Sausage fried on a fire (or even better on the sauna oven).
There are quite many fire and cooking places, separate or at huts and shelters. Campfires are not allowed elsewhere. Open fire is not allowed anywhere when there is a forest fire warning in effect.
There are several businesses that might serve meals also in the terrain on advance request. There is a café at the Koirasalmi information hut.
- There is a well at the open wilderness hut at Lake Sysilampi.
- There is a tap at the wall of the Koirasalmi nature information hut.
- Rent a sauna and cottage/cabin (mökki): 1 Ahvenlampi (22 persons), Kaunislampi (6 persons), Koirasalmi (2+4 persons)
- Rental hut at Sysilampi (2 persons)
- Open wilderness huts: Sysilampi (4 persons) and 2 Pitkälahti (2 persons)
- Lean-to shelter at the lake 3 Heikinjärvi and several along the trails to the park, the closest being 4 Pikku-Syrjä and 5 Nielujärvi. There are also several "lap huts", mostly used as rest and cooking shelters.
- Caravan area at Koirasalmi information hut. Electricity, waste collection station, rental sauna, fireplace, etc. Non-free.
- Camping is allowed at Koirasalmi, 6 Pyydyskoski, Sysilampi and Pitkälahti, and in the vicinity of campfire sites and shelters (most of which are in stony terrain). Camping at Koirasalmi is not free, camping elsewhere is.
Camping is allowed outside the park and the nature reserve, according to the right to access. Most of the land around the park and along Peuranpolku and Hirvaan kierros is owned by Metsähallitus, and as long as you are considerate, using the right should be unproblematic. Where the trails go on private land, being considerate is especially important, as the trails depend on cooperation with land owners.
There are areas in the park without mobile phone coverage or with interference. Try a more open or higher place. Emergency calls to 112 can be placed without SIM card, which guarantees the best connection available is used.
- Iso-Valvatti bird wetland near the mire reserve of Linjasalmenneva
- Hirvaan kierros (59 km), Peura Trail (115 km in all, from Joutenhovi to Petäjämäen ulkoilukeskus in Reisjärvi; in poor condition as of 2019, except in and near the park) and further by the international E6 hiking trail