Päijänne National Park | Pulkkilanharju Esker

Address: Pulkkilantie 95, 17200 Vääksy Show map

Address: Pulkkilantie 95, 17200 Vääksy

The 8-kilometre-long Pulkkilanharju consists of esker islands and underwater ridges. The islands are connected to each other by bridges. The narrow Pulkkilanharju Esker, running across beautiful Lake Päijänne, is part of a nationally valuable landscape area and an important birdwatching site during the spring and autumn migrations. Part of Pulkkilanharju Esker belongs to Päijänne National Park, which was established in 1993. Pulkkilanharju can be reached from Vääksy and Sysmä via road number 314 by bicycle, car or bus.


Visitors can explore the esker nature on a nature trail of about two kilometres that is mostly easy terrain. The nature trail begins at Karisalmi rest area by going under Karisalmi Bridge to the other side of the road and then heading up to the esker. The information boards along the trail describe how the esker was formed and present the plant species of the area. You can also leave the nature trail and take a longer marked trail. This lengthens the walk back to the Karisalmi starting point to a total of about 4.5 kilometres. Most of the terrain is a fairly easy forest trail through the beautiful esker and lake landscape. Please follow the national park rules and regulations and stay on the trail to avoid damaging the fragile esker vegetation.

Pulkkilanharju is part of an esker stretching from the Second Salpausselkä Ridge in Asikkala well into the Sysmä area. It is an internationally significant example of traces from the last Ice Age and one of the most important sites of the Salpausselkä Aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark. Pulkkilanharju Esker was formed from layers of gravel and sand deposited by meltwaters at the site of a glacial meltwater stream flowing within the continental ice sheet. This took place at the end of the last Ice Age, about 11,500 years ago.

During his travels in Finland, King Gustav III of Sweden was so enchanted with Pulkkilanharju, that in 1775 he drew up a plan to build the city of Kukonharju on the esker. That plan was abandoned, but Pulkkilanharju Esker has a long history of being a busy travel route across Lake Päijänne from Sysmä to Asikkala. In order to make the route more accessible, the islands were gradually linked to each other and the continent by means of bridges and banks.

During recent decades, the ancient trail developed into the busy route of today. Pulkkilanharju has become an important destination for car, bicycle and water tourism in the southern Lake Päijänne area. The Päijänne scenic road was named Finland’s most beautiful scenic route in 2014. The winning route begins in Vääksy and continues via Pulkkilanharju, Sysmä and Luhanka to Korpilahti.

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