Leivonmäki National Park – a hiking site for the whole family
Leivonmäki National Park is called the small giant of the Central Finland environment because you can experience the biodiversity of the local nature in the park that is only three square kilometres in size. The national park offers valuable swamp, ridge and forest nature, ponds and lakes, and the foaming Rutajoki rapids.
Leivonmäki National Park is located in Central Finland, around an hour's drive from Jyväskylä. 15,000 people visit the national park each year. Most of them are from the Jyväskylä region, but more tourists from farther away come each year. The park is located close to a highway and population centres, it includes versatile yet easy to reach hiking routes and it also includes guiding materials providing nature education. All of these issues combined attract many school classes and families with children to the park.
Four seasons but always easy to walk – even in the swamp
The most valuable part of the natural park in terms of nature conservation is Haapasuo bog. You can also study the bog by embarking on a two-kilometre hike along duckboards. On the same parking lot as the hiking trails, you can start the Luupää hike which will take you to, for instance, a Lapp hut on the shore of Lake Harjujärvi. The needs of people with disabilities have also been taken into account in the national park.
The park's symbol bird, European nightjar, lives along the ridge. You can hear the nightjar's buzzing song at night in the summertime. A path to the north will take you to Harjunlahti beach. In the wintertime, skiing tracks that go round the entire park start at the beach.
Plenty to do and top-class accommodation
Metsähallitus, the authority in charge of the national park, has also built hiking routes and resting places along the shores and in the islands of Lake Rutajärvi. The accommodation capacity close to the park has been increased, there are several shops renting hiking gear and programme services are also available.
Leader support assists in retaining the national park's history
Local residents and entrepreneurs have established a support association for the national park, called Leivonmäen kansallispuiston ystävät ry (Leivonmäki National Park Support Association), to assist in developing the services of the national park. The association arranges trips, maintains the skiing tracks and cares for the park's traditional biotopes with voluntary labour.
Cultural heritage association Seuna ry has implemented a Leader-funded project called Kurki ja Kuokka (Crane and Hoe). The project's results include a history of the national park and a movie. Hundreds of newspaper clippings, photos, documents, interviews and other data about the area from the past decades were archived.
Text by Lea-Elina Nikkilä