The walking trails in Helvetinjärvi National Park take you through an ancient landscape with majestic cliffs and glimmering lakes that have inspired many an artist over the centuries. The faint scent of smoke drifting up from the valleys gives away an early picnic party at Helvetinkolu campfire site. A leisurely lie-down on the sandy beach of Haukanhieta completes a perfect summer day.
Sights and Scenery
Helvetinjärvi National Park is above all a place of breathtaking views: deep gorges, steep-walled lakes and small ponds hidden in the woods. The park's two gorges were formed between 150 and 200 million years ago by faults in the bedrock. The area's best known views are from the top of Helvetinkolu, down into the gorge and across Lake Iso Helvetinjärvi. Helvetinkolu Gorge has been a popular tourist destination since the 19th century.
The fault line to the north of Helvetinkolu has created a succession of narrow and steep-walled lakes with vertical rock faces rising up dozens of metres in places. The landscape turns flatter towards the south of the park where the vast expanses of Lake Haukkajärvi offer a serene sight for sore eyes from the sandy beach of Haukanhieta.
Helvetistä Itään Nature Trail (4 km) leads you along the banks of a bubbling brook through a dense spruce forest alternating with sunny pine woods, past pristine wetland and into the deep Helvetinkolu Gorge. There is also a waterfall as well as a picnic bench set in beautiful wetland scenery along the way. The signposts along the trail teach you about the park's flora and fauna and the area's culture and history. There is also a campfire site and a wilderness hut along the trail. There is a restaurant at the start of the trail which is open in the summer.
- Geocaching: Peek into cracks in the bedrock, scan the edges of wetland... Geocaching is a brilliant way to add more excitement and a hint of adventure to a day trip.
- Skiing: Skiing is a great way to explore the park in the winter. There are no maintained ski trails but a skiing route from Kuru to Ruovesi, which is maintained by Ylöjärvi and Ruovesi local authorities, runs just to the south of the park.
- Fishing: There are no restrictions on hook and line fishing and ice fishing on the park's lakes and ponds. Fishers need to check the restrictions on fishing sites at kalastusrajoitus.fi (In Finnish).
- Climbing: There is a climbing and abseiling site to the east of Sammakkolammi pond to the north of the park. The top of the climbing wall can be accessed from a path leading from Helvetinkolu to Karhukallio and the bottom from a path leading to Ruokkeenharju. There is also an icefall on the western shore of the northern tip of Lake Helvetinjärvi, which can be climbed until 15 March each year. Climbing on the park's other rocks is prohibited for nature conservation reasons.
- Snowshoeing: Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the park in the winter. Please remember that there are big drops in the terrain in places!
- Pick Berries and Mushrooms: Nature's treats await you in Helvetinjärvi National Park! Berry and mushroom picking is allowed throughout the park with the exception of the restricted areas around Lake Haukkajärvi during bird breeding season from 15 April to 31 July.
- Learn in Nature: No amount of books can teach you about nature like nature itself. Helvetinjärvi National Park's nature trails and campfire sites make it a great destination for school groups. There are several entrepreneurs offering a range of fun activities in the park.
- Walk on Marked Trails: The park is a brilliant destination for day trips: There are around 40 kilometres of marked trails (4–11 km), which can be challenging in places due to the great differences in altitude.
- Swimming: Jump in! All lakes and ponds in the park are suitable for swimming. There are no lifeguards in the area. Haukanhieta beach at Lake Haukkajärvi is ideal for families. There is no official swimming spot in the National Park.
- Hiking: Helvetinjärvi National Park's hiking trails are part of the extensive Pirkan Taival network (300 km), with routes leading towards Ruovesi, Kuru and Virrat and all the way to Seitseminen National Park. You can bring your own tent, or spend the night in a lean-to shelter or a rental cabin
- Mountain biking: Mountain biking is allowed according to everyman's rights, except in the restricted areas. Always stay on clearly visible tracks and pay attention to other hikers.