Koivusaari nature trail
The Koivusaari Nature Trail is located 2.3 km from the city centre of Rovaniemi toward Sodankylä, on Koivusaari, or Koivu Island, in the Ounas River delta. It is a part of Rovaniemi’s city centre trail network. The Koivusaari Nature Trail is well suited for spring, summer and autumn excursions. The delta islands of the Ounas River are low sand islands and sandbanks that get flooded in the spring. These islands form an important cultural landscape with valuable flora and fauna. They were utilised as meadows until the early 1960s.
An easy-access duckboard nature trail was built on Koivusaari in summer 2003. Information boards along the nature trail present the history, flora and fauna of Koivusaari. In the summer, there is a floating bird-watching tower at the end of the duckboards. In the area, there is also a monument to the railway that crossed the island from the city to Saarenkylä in the winters of 1946–1951. The flood-prone shores and delta islands are fertile natural meadows, and Koivusaari, right next to the city, was also used as a pasture up to the 1960s. As agriculture has decreased, the shoreline meadows have become rare, along with the flora and fauna that thrived on them. Today, sheep graze on the island during the summer.
Koivusaari is one of the small islands in the Ounas River delta whose shores offer shelter for nesting and migrating birds. Of the 135 bird species that have been spotted on the islands, 90–100 species have either nested there or been spotted during nesting season. For example, mute swans, white-tailed sea eagles, western marsh-harriers, glaucous gulls, and horned larks have been spotted. Endangered plants that grow in the area include the bluntleaf sandwort, almond willow, and the Finnish stitchwort. The islands feature vast areas of sedge and canary grass, small meadow rue, meadowsweet, creeping buttercup, cinnamon rose, and lily of the valley.
The round trip of the circular trail and the connecting trail is 2.5 km, and its difficulty level is easy. Benches are also provided for hikers along the nature trail. Next to the adjacent Ounaspaviljonki beach, there is a log-built lean-to equipped with a campfire site and woodshed. The area features toilets, a boat ramp and marina.
Directions: drive 2.6 km out of the city centre of Rovaniemi along Sodankyläntie; turn left on Ounasjoen itäpuolentie; drive 300 m; turn left into the Ounaspaviljonki parking area, where the nature trail is easiest to access. On the east side of the parking area, there is a 150-metre path over a bridge to the start of the nature trail. By bus you can reach the Kuusamontie intersection, which is about 500 m from the starting point of the trail. It is in use from June to October, opened as soon as the flooding in the Ounas River has receded.