The Petkeljärvi National Park was founded in 1956 together with other six national parks. The idea of protecting Petkeljärvi started long before the war; in 1933 talks on forest protection were initiated in the area. After the war, the establishment of new national and natural parks was justified by regional post-war losses, because only two of the four national parks established in 1938 remained within the Finnish borders. The need for new replacement parks were presented by science foundations. However, in Petkeljärvi, local persons were also actively in support of the actions. Petkeljärvi is situated close to the Finnish-Russian border.
“The Gem of North Karelia”
The national park comprises one of the best nature features in Finland; exceptional wild ridges, sparkling ponds, and fen meadows preserved as a traditional landscape. The wild nature of the area is also underlined by animals that thrive in the park, such as beavers, ravens and the black-throated diver (the emblem bird of the park). Forests in Petkeljärvi have remained untouched by the forest industry with 150-year-old shield bark covered pines as the oldest trees in the park. All these can be enjoyed in a day through the various short hiking trails across the park. During the hike, one can experience the ascend-descend lead from one ridge to another as one admire the lake partially emerge behind the trees. Longer hikes can offer more sightseeing of the area and this can be easily planned from Petkeljärvi, since the oldest hiking trail in North Karelia, the Taitaja Taival (35 km) starts right within the park.
Petkeljärvi hiking center is located at the tip of Petraniemi, at the end of the road to the national park. Rare are national parks, within which one can access restaurant services or accommodation. In the summer, hikers can already at dawn one can wake up to sounds of birds, and hop in the waters of Valkiajärvi to kayaking or rowing.