In its old days, the Repovesi area was an important hunting and fishing ground since the stone age. Repo means fox, which was brought by people from Karelia, who migrated in the 13th and 14th century to the area.
Nowadays the National Park has over 40 km of marked hiking routes. The trails can be quite demanding, due to the altitude changes. The northeastern part of the park is a restricted area, which is used the army. Entering this area is not permitted, but don’t worry, you will find bar gates and warning boards, which mark the border.
I decided to hike the most popular route: the Ketunlenkki Circle Trail. The starting point is in the Lapinsalmi parking area, where I could camp. The trail itself is around 5 km long and goes through forests along the shore and is suitable for beginners and even families with kids. It also includes the two of the main attractions of the park: the Lapinsalmi Suspension Bridge and the Fox Ferry.
The hanging bridge is 50 m long, weighs around 5 tons and it will squeak a lot, when you are crossing 10 m high above the water. On the other end of the route you will have to cross the water again, this time via the manually-operated ferry. Meaning: you have to pull it by hand from shore to shore across Määkijänsalmi. Don’t forget to bring some cloves, since the cable is wet and slippery from the water. I managed to get a total of three painful blisters, but it’s fun and I would not want to miss this experience.
But hiking is not the only thing you can do in Repovesi National Park. You can also explore the park by bike and by water. In fact the water route through the park is part of the world’s longest inland canoeing route: the Savonselkä Canoeing Route. Though it has a total length of 360 km, it is suitable for beginners and goes through backwoods and settled areas. It leads all the way to the Verla mill, which is one of Finland’s seven Unesco World Heritage Sites. From the boat you also have the best view of Olhavanvuori, a 50 m high cliff, which drops vertically into the lake. It is also possible to hike up the hill on demanding trails or you can climb your way up the cliff on marked routes.