The mystical gorge lakes of Toriseva are famous for their secrets

Virrat Toriseva

Toriseva comprises of three separate gorge lakes, which have formed in to a trench. Imposing cliffs surround these narrow and deep lakes, and you can enjoy them individually or together by taking the nature path around them. We have been visiting Toriseva for decades, and I can tell you — it never grows old. I have eaten countless lunch sandwiches on the shores of Toriseva.

The most spectacular views are at Alainen-Toriseva (literally, lower Toriseva). So, even if you only have 15 minutes to spare, stop there, stretch your legs, and walk down to the lake for some incredible views. The cliffs and dark waters have inspired imaginations so stop for a while and enjoy.

Toriseva gorge lakes in short

Toriseva is a gorge lake, which generally form when a rift is filled with soil. During the last Ice Age, this soil was then swept off, and after the ice melted, a lake was created in the ravine. These gorge lakes tend to be deep and narrow, and at Toriseva, the middle lake measures 37m in depth. The name “Toriseva” possibly comes from the Finnish word “torista”, which used to mean purling or gurgling (the sound a stream of water makes when it hits something solid). Nowadays, that word in Finnish is “lorista”.

If you want to experience the area in depth, try the 6.5km nature path that encompasses more of the area’s nature. There is a shorter path as well, only 1.2km in length that only goes around Alainen-Toriseva lake. Due to the height and steepness of the surrounding cliffs, the circular lake route is definitely on a moderate level. During winter or wet conditions, it gets very slippery so take care. The map of the nature path (also below) is here.

In case you’re an avid fisher, you can also test the waters at Yläinen-Toriseva, which is popular among local fishing aficionados. If you are serious about your fishing, check out the need for a separate fishing permit. There should be rainbow trout, European whitefish, and salmon trout in the lakes.

Toriseva Virrat rotkojärvi gorge lake ravine luontopolku nature path

Goblins, artists, and maidens in despair at Toriseva

Traditionally, locals have often been afraid of gorge lakes due to their unusual depth and foreboding cliffs. Old tales say that sprites, goblins, or other magical beings inhabit places like Toriseva. For example, locals from past years named a similarly magnificent gorge lake in Lapland called Pakasaivo as “The Hell of Lapland”. A famous Finnish author and photographer, I.K. Inha (1865-1930) was born near Toriseva, and he claimed that locals dreaded the highest cliff and thought it to be a goblin and a den of evil.

View from the coffee house

Some stories say that the same cliff, nowadays called Inkerinkallio (Inkeri’s cliff), got its name after a 16th century noblewoman Inkeri Kurki. According to legend, she fell in love with a peasant man. Sadly, they were forbidden from marrying each other due to their difference in class. The lovers got separated when the man was sent to fight in the Swedish army, where he then died. Lady Inkeri prayed on top of the highest cliff every day for her lover’s return, but when she found out of his fate, she flung herself into the depths of the lake.

So, Toriseva has indeed been popular for a long time. It has been a famous natural sight already in the 19th century, since many artists immortalized it. For example, Werner Holmberg, a Finnish painter, painted “Motif from Toriseva” in 1859, and the painting is one of his best works. Toriseva also inspired other artists such as painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela and author Zacharias Topelius.

A more recent addition to Toriseva’s history is a cafe built in 1936. The Lotta Svärd organisation originally operated the “Torisevan kahvimaja“. It has been maintained in its original form ever since, so check it out, too. The views from the cafe overlooking the lake are also great so it’s definitely worth the 150m walk a slight incline to see.

Directions to Toriseva

Address: Type Torisevajärvientie 513, 34800 Virrat on your navigator. Alternatively, you can also type in Torisevan levähdysalue. This will take you to Alainen-Toriseva.

  • Car: There is a parking area and a rest stop at each lake:
    • Alainen-Toriseva (lower Toriseva lake): Torisevanjärvientie 524, Virrat. Main parking area and rest stop.
    • Keskinen-Toriseva (middle Toriseva lake): Torisevanjärvientie 445, Virrat. Another relatively large car park and rest stop.
    • Yläinen-Toriseva (upper Toriseva lake): Torisevajärvientie 347, Virrat. A rather small rest stop.
  • Bicycle: Road 66 has some shoulders to cycle on so if you are feeling adventurous, go for it!
  • Public transport: First, it’s best to get yourself to Orivesi, from where you can catch a bus towards Virrat and Toriseva. The closest bus stops are right next to Toriseva! The one next to Alainen-Toriseva is Toriseva, the one next to Yläinen-Toriseva is Yläinen-Toriseva. Check out timetables for the Orivesi-Virrat bus from Route planner.

Accessibility: Toriseva is not accessible. The area has some well-worn paths but the terrain is varying. The nature path is challenging when it’s wet or during winter. Stay away from the edges of the cliffs.

When to go: You can visit at any time of the year. In the winter, the cliffs and stairs get very slippery so make sure you wear your studded shoes and maybe take Nordic walking sticks with you, too.

What to wear: Studded shoes during the winter/slippery season. Sturdy shoes at other times because the stairs may be slippery. If you visit during the autumn, remember that there may be / will be deer keds.

Facilities: There are two fireplaces in the area. Remember that you must not build an illegal fireplace. There is no dry toilet in the area.

Make sure you also check out

The nearby Nurminiemi lean-to shelter is definitely worth checking out.

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