The scenic Vattajanniemi cape in Lohtaja, and the Ohtakari island at the tip of the cape, offer diverse services to visitors all year round. You can move freely in the Vattaja area under the Finnish everyman’s rights, but pay attention to the Finnish Defence Forces’ shooting practices, the related warnings and the designated danger zones. To check for possible restrictions on moving in the area, see the information boards along the roads or the website of the Finnish Defence Forces. Visitors must also take the bird nesting season (from 15 April to 31 July) and the grazing areas on the island into consideration while moving in the area.
KARIPOLKU TRAIL (7.3 KM/DIRECTION)
The parking area is on the left-hand side of the road when you turn from Ohtakarintie road to Kilpipakantie. There is a signpost next to the parking area. To access the trail, continue along Kilpipakantie road and follow the paint marks. You can also reach the trail from the Dune trail parking area, where the trailhead is on the right side of the shore when approached from the parking area.
Medium difficulty trail – Trail sections with tree roots. There is a steep climb on the trail in the section between Vatunginjärventie road and
Jussinpauha. The trail goes through a sheep paddock. Part of the trail runs along duckboards.
Karipolku hiking trail starts in Kilpipakka and ends at Vattajanniemi bathing area in Lohtaja. This trail, which is in year-round use, runs through pine heaths and along forest roads. Nature is constantly changing in this area. On the shallow coast, the impacts of land uplift following the most recent glacial period can be seen clearly. Evidence of land uplift includes fladas and gloes, or former bays which have lost their connection to the sea as the land rises. The land uplift forests in the dune area are diverse and rich in species. Many rare butterfly, plant and bird species thrive in this area.
Along the trail, hikers will find Maijanaro lean-to shelter and campfire site, Jussinpauha lean-to shelter and campfire site, and Karipolku birdwatching tower, which offers views across a nearby flada. Jussinpauha lean-to shelter is supplied with firewood
which hikers must cut to suitable lengths. An axe and saw are provided for this purpose.
Visitors must consider the bird nesting season (from 15 April to 31 July) while hiking in the area. The trail is open all year round. The ski route that starts from the Erkkilä fitness track in Kilpipakka runs all the way to Ohtakari, partly along the Karipolku trail.
VATUNKI NATURE TRAIL (1.3 KM)
After Lake Vatunginjärvi, take the road that turns to the right from Ohtakarintie. You can park at the widened end of the trail. There are no signposts in the parking area.
Medium difficulty trail – There are plenty of paths in the area, which hampers following the right trail. The terrain
makes for easy walking.
The nature trail leading through coniferous forest rooted in the sandy soils runs close to Lake Vatunginjärvi and leads visitors
to Jussinpauha lean-to shelter and Karipolku birdwatching tower.
OHTAKARI NATURE TRAIL (1.5 KM)
The trailhead is at the end of Ohtakarintie road. There is no official parking area here for visitors to the nature trail.
Difficult trail – The nature trail is narrow and rocky.
The nature trail leads through the historic island of Ohtakari with an old fishing village. Along the trail, hikers will find an ancient stone labyrinth, a lean-to shelter and a campfire site. There is an observation tower and a fishing museum on the island.
VATTAJA BIRDWATCHING TOWER
The birdwatching tower is located on the tip of Vattajanniemi headland near a sandy beach and the open sea, at the start of Ohtakari causeway. The 14-metre tower is ideal for watching migratory birds.
DUNE TRAIL 1KM
You can park in the parking area of Vattajanniemi bathing area. The trailhead is in the parking area.
Medium difficulty – The sand makes for strenuous walking. Accessible duckboards can be found on the side of the Dune trail
The Dune trail maintained by Metsähallitus runs along sandy dunes on the shores of Vattajanniemi headland, offering views of the open sea. There is an accessible campfire site near Vattajanniemi parking area. The dunes of Vattajanniemi make up
the largest dune beach in the northern boreal zone. The pristine dune shores offer something to see
and experience to everyone from surfers to birdwatchers.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKI TRACKS
In snowy winters, several ski tracks are kept open in Vattaja and Ohtakari areas. In summer, the ski tracks can be used by hikers where applicable.
There is a swimming beach along the causeway leading to Ohtakari. The beach parking area has an information board with a map, and there is also an outhouse, a summer kiosk and the starting point of the Karipolku trail. The Vattaja birdwatching tower offers magnificent views over the sea. A dune nature trail maintained by Metsähallitus runs along the beach. Along the Karipolku trail, visitors will find two lean-to shelters, the birdwatching tower of Jussinpauha and the Vatunki nature trail.
Ohtakari’s services include a watchtower, nature trail, grill shelter, outhouses, a campsite run by the local parish, accommodation spaces, a summer kiosk and bar, a fishing museum and a fishing and guest port. The island has many summer houses, so remember to stay on the marked paths.
The Lahdenkrooppi watchtower, built by the Finnish Defence Forces, can be found in the southern part of the area, and it is a great birdwatching site. There is also a lean-to shelter and a marked parking area in Lahdenkrooppi.
The sandy beaches of the Vattajanniemi cape are among the most significant representations of dune habitats in Northern Europe, and they form also the largest and most natural coastal dune area in Finland. The vast open, consistent sandy beach sweeps across more than 15 kilometres. The beach is guarded by open dunes covered with grass lyme, vast sand areas behind them, and almost grove-like, overgrown dunes, which together give the area a unique stamp. Most of the dune area is included in the Vattajanniemi Natura 2000 area and the FINIBA birdlife sites. Lake Vatunginjärvi is a restored gloe lake, where the water level has been raised by approximately one metre. Parts of the Vattaja coastal meadows and forests are managed through grazing. Vattaja and Ohtakari are located along the main migration route of many bird species, and the abundance of migrating birds in the area can be an impressive spectacle in the spring and autumn.