We had an amazing summer here in Finland, one that even locals mark as “the best as long as they can remember”. Sun started shining in mid-May and kept doing so for months. Good weather can be addictive and by start of August I wasn’t ready to let go of the warm season yet. Luckily our family had some special plans in store to have one last sweet taste of this beautiful Finnish summer.
We were invited to visit the town of Kouvola and the nearby region, approximately 150 km away from the capital region. This wasn’t our first time, as last year we had visited the spectacular amusement park Tykkimäki close by. However, we hadn’t explored the area and we were eager to find what we had missed.
We left the car in the wide Lapinsalmi parking area. If you don’t own a car, don’t panic: there are cheap bus connections running in the summer. Before starting your walk, you can buy snacks or drinks from a local kiosk and use the dry toilet facilities.
I had studied the map and I knew our trail started with a ride onto the “Fox ferry”. We walked to the departure point, yet we were confused: where is the ferry? We double-checked the trail marks, saw a platform, yet no ferry on the lake. Well, apparently it was a man-powered ferry!
My husband and a fellow hiker carried our family to the other side of the lake: what an exciting start! The clock had hit noon already and we all needed energy, so we stopped under the fresh shadow of spruces and ate our packed lunch: rich sandwiches, cherry tomatoes, and tiny cinnamon buns.
We were ready to start our walk! The trail alternated parts deep into the pine and birch forest with open walks onto the Lake Kapiavesi’s rocky banks. It was not an easy walk (definitely not stroller-friendly, bring a baby carrier!) and we loved it. I am aware I get easily excited by new things, so I ran through my more trustworthy husband the question “Was this our best hike ever?” and he commented “Definitely one of the best”.
I think we were mostly impressed and engaged by the diversity of the trail. Personally, I love going deep into dense, humid, and mushy woods, and there were long segments like that. I love to stand in the middle of a forest, turn all around and feel there’s no end. The kids and I pressed our hands onto the soft moss that was covering the whole forest’s floor, smelled trees and plants, carefully walked over roots, pointed at berries of different shapes and colours. I told them elves (tontut) and fairies populated the forest and we pointed at things in nature and wondered how they’d use them to hide, sleep, or dress up. Then, just like that, the woods opened again and we’d find ourselves walking on big rocks few inches from the clear waters.
Near the lake, we could hear the loud calls of the local red-throated diver and other birds chirping. Watching the deep blue waters of the lake over the clear sky was mesmerising. There is no “official” beach along the trail, but you can dip your feet or legs in some points. Some tracts of the trail were rocky, the area is famous for high cliffs and for the light red granite rock rapakivi. There was plenty of elevation, too. In the second half of our hike we had to climb up a steep hill, but the view we found on top was worth the effort: utterly breathtaking. We stood on a plain rock and oversaw the woods, the lake, and the immense sky.
Here and there, we found information posts which shared more on the history and the natural heritage of the site. The whole trail was very well maintained and marked. It took us 3 hours and a half, we had to take few breaks, but we and the kids all made it! We spared the little one (now 3 years old) a couple of kilometers by carrying him in our baby carrier, but the oldest (now 5) managed well on her own. In the end of our walk, we were supposed to cross the lake through the famous suspension bridge.
Unfortunately the bridge was closed for repair, but a small boat was carrying visitors back and forth every 15 minutes. We sat at the picnic area and ate a fruit snack, while waiting for our ride. Some families were grilling their lunch on an open fire available to visitors. When the boat arrived, we climbed onto it and it quickly transported us back to the parking area. We made a stop at the kiosk for ice-cream and then said goodbye to the beautiful park of Repovesi. We rode towards Kouvola eager to see more, with our hearts well-rested and full of beautiful family memories.