Follow the Ice Age trails in Rokua Geopark

Rokua Geopark offers things to see and do for all ages! We have put together three ready-made itineraries for your day or overnight trip to Rokua Geopark. Along the ring routes you will find our most spectacular natural and cultural sites and a wide range of services. Grab your car or bike and take a trip on the Ice Age Trail to the Oulujoki River Valley, Rokua or Lake Oulujärvi!

The Story of the River Valley, the Story of the Ridge and the Story of the Lake routes introduce the traveller to the formation of the Rokua Geopark landscape and local cultural history. The natural and landscape features on the routes are very different, but they all formed by the same phenomenon, the Ice Age. Its traces can be seen in different ways in the Oulu River valley, the Rokua ridge and dune area and Lake Oulu. The environment created by the Ice Age has also allowed for different types of living conditions in these areas from 8000 years ago to the present day.

You can find the routes, with descriptions and destinations, on the free Outdooractive service, which you can download to your smartphone from your app store. The service also works in a web browser.

The River Valley Story (131 km)

The Oulu River Valley is a charming setting with idyllic rural landscapes, lush deciduous forests and a colourful history.

The history of the river valley combines a nationally important agricultural landscape, unique geology, pristine nature and a rich cultural history. The Oulu River basin is known as an ancient travel, tar and tourist route, and many important cultural sites from that time have been preserved, such as the Lamminaho farm and the wooden churches of Muhos and Utajärvi. Today, the Oulu River is an important source of hydroelectric power, and the Oulu River power plants and their communities, designed by the architect Aarne Ervi, form a fascinating architectural and historical whole. Part of the river valley is also classified as a landscape area of national importance, combining a representative rural landscape, a diverse building stock and historical traces of river-based economy.

Some of the best hiking destinations in the Oulu River Valley are the Lemmenpolku trail, the Liimanninkoski nature trail and the Tar Route, a hiking and skiing trail from Oulu to Rokua, where you can learn about the history and importance of tar in the Oulu River Valley. The river is also a great recreational fishing river and ideal for various water activities.

Explore the environment and the history of the Oulu River Valley on the River Valley Story Trail

The Story of the Ridge (61 km)

On the Rokua Ridge route, you can hike in Rokua National Park, enjoy the rural scenery and learn the stories of local poets and folk healers.

Selected as the Finnish 2018 Destination of the Year, the Rokua region and its national parks are a stunning work of nature, shaped by the Ice Age. A thick, silvery blanket of lichen covers the hilly landscape dotted with crystal-clear ponds. In the silence, the sounds of nature can be heard clearly. The story of Rokua Ridge begins at the end of the Ice Age, more than 10,000 years ago, when glacial meltwater and strong winds piled up tens of metres of sand in the Rokua area. Today, Rokua is home to Finland’s largest dune field, with the highest single dune rising 25 metres above the surrounding terrain. Rokua was also a tar production area in the past, and you can still see tar pits and traces of forest fires caused by the burning of tar.

The hilly terrain continues on the south-eastern side of the national park, known as Little Rokua, as you head towards the village of Neittävä. From Neittävä, you can follow the 17th-century Emperor’s Road into the southern part of Rokua National Park to the Pitkäjärvi rest stop and from there to destinations such as the Pitkäjärvi picnic area, which is accessible by wheelchair. From Neittävä to the villages of Pelso and Kylmälänkylä, the landscape changes from dry and hilly sand ridges to idyllic open fields and marshes.

The traditional Kalevala village of Ahmas is near the end of the route. The traditional village has an impressive collection of buildings and stories about the poets and folk healers who lived in Ahmas and whose poems and spells found their way into the national epic Kalevala.

There is plenty to see and do on the Story of the Ridge Trail

The Story of the Lake (101 km)

Europe’s oldest foundations, dozens of kilometres of sandy beaches and a maritime atmosphere on Finland’s largest inland waterways.

The remarkable landscape of Lake Oulu is the result of ancient tectonic movements, continental rifts and the effects of the Ice Age. Another theory is that ancient giants played a role in the formation of the lake. Either way, the Lake Oulu area is perfect for spending summer days and exploring interesting cultural history. Fish, canoe, hike, swim, bird watch or visit a museum or an art exhibition. There is enough to do for several days!

There are three major hubs with services along the ring road: Vaala Centre, Säräisniemi and Manamansalo. The centre of Vaala is located at the mouth of the Oulu River and was historically an important stopover for tar boats travelling down the river from Kainuu to Oulu. The former centre of Vaala, the village of Säräisniemi, lies about 15 kilometres south of Vaala. Säräisniemi has camping facilities, a local history museum and a beautiful wooden church from 1781. The island of Manamansalo in the middle of Lake Oulu is a paradise with its hiking areas and tens of kilometres of sandy beaches. Manamansalo has been inhabited since the Stone Age, as evidenced by the Deer Trail.

The Story of the Lake Trail shows you the unique nature of the area