Norppapolku, Saimaa Seal Trail, in Puumala, Finland, is a hiking trail that consists of three separate loop routes, each of which can be hiked individually: Kitulan lenkki, Kaivannon kieppi, and Kotkatsaaren kierros. The entire length of the Norppapolku trail is 13 kilometers, but as it consists of three separate trails, it is possible to hike only a part of it. We were planning to hike it all, but after hiking the first two parts of the first two loops, we decided we had too little water and it was too hot for us so we walked back.
We parked our car behind Sale in Puumala under the Puumalansalmi bridge. This bridge is 781 meters long and has an elevator that brings you to a height of 31 meters. You can also walk the entire length of the bridge, but we decided to take the elevator. From the elevator you have a beautiful view of the bridge, lake Saimaa and the market area of Puumala.
There are also other parking spots available along each of the trails if you want to walk them separately or start from another point. This way you do not get to cross the bridge though. Along the trail there are also 8 points of interest which are clearly marked. Norppapolku is one of Saimaa UNESCO Global Geopark destinations.
Kitulan lenkki on Norppapolku
We started with the Kitulan lenkki which is the longest of them all. The map indicates to walk it clockwise, but we started counter clockwise going to Huutovuori direction first.
After the bridge we walked through a field and then into the forest where the path splits into two.
Trail markings are very clear and good, so it is really easy to follow the trails. The first 3 km of the trail were mostly pine forest and hilly. This part of the trail runs quite close to the road passing it at some point in order to continue to the next part of the trail.
In my opinion, this first leg of the journey was not the most breathtaking one, but after continuing to the next leg, it got quite stunning with beaches and a bit of climbing up cliffs to see afar.
Kaivannon kieppi on Norppapolku
Actually, on the Kaivannon kieppi or Kotkatsaaren kierros you may find perhaps the most magnificent lake views of the entire Norppapolku trail. Even though the road goes quite close to the trails, one still feels completely in nature and at peace. The trail is very easy but there are some steep hills at times.
So, as we turned “wrong” on the first trail, we continued to be rebels and walk the second trail also the wrong way around still counter clockwise. The trail winds itself along the coastline, making it really very stunning. Along this side of the trail there are a lot of beaches to take a swim.
This part of the leg is also the most challenging one. On both sides there are steeper hills or rocks, that offer a splendid view and nice spot to have a break. In the upper part, where we decided to turn back, is also a large and handsome log-built shelter. We stopped there for a while just to admire it.
After the shelter, the trail follows the road for a while and before the next bridge we crossed it and went back to the forest. On this side, the trail goes a bit longer way away from the road. Most of the points of interest are on this side of the trails.
In the middle of this part, we ascended the last steeper rock to get some stunning views.
Going back down we walked again some smaller sections by the road and then coming to the last leg of this journey. At this point the trail got more away from the coast and into the forest. We were able to eat a lot of berries. At the last leg we even ate loads of forest strawberries. All in all, the two trails were really very different from each other, even though so close to each other. We covered a total of ten kilometers along Norppapolku in 2 hours and 50 minutes.
Kummakivi balancing rock at Ruokolahti, Finland
Kummakivi means “strange rock” in Finnish. It is a fitting name for a huge balancing rock in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Finland, more specifically at Ruokolahti.
Finest rock art in Finland at Astuvansalmi
The rock paintings at Astuvansalmi in the Finnish Lakeland are stunningly vivid, cover dozens of motifs, and are included in the largest in Northern Europe.