Europe > Finland

Lake Paijanne: The Second Largest Lake in Findland

lakeLake Päijänne
countryFinland
surface area1,083 km2
maximum depth95 m
average depth16 m
lake typeNatural
length120 km
catchment area25,400 km2
altitude78 m
volume19 km3
outflowsKymi
islands1, 886 in total, including Virmailansaari, Salonsaari, Judinsalo, Onkisalo, Paatsalo, Muuratsalo, Haukkasalo, Vuoritsalo, Mustassalo, Edessalo, Taivassalo
shore length1,140 km
mixing typeDimictic
settlementsAsikkala, Jyväskylä, Korpilahti, Kuhmoinen, Luhanka, Muurame, Padasjoki, Sysmä
frozenDecember to May
trophic stateOligotrophic

Lake Päijänne Information and Facts

Lake Päijänne is the second largest lake in Finland with a surface area of 1082.89 km2, serving as one of the most popular fishing lakes in the country.

Geography and Geology

Lake Päijänne is broken by thousands of islands. The largest open bodies of water in the lake are Ristinselka, Vanhanselka, Tehinselka, and Asikkalanselka. The biggest islands that break the continuous body of freshwater are from North to South: Vuoritsalo, Muuratsalo, Onkisalo, Judinsalo, Edessalo and Taivassalo, completed by the largest – Virmailansaari. The word “saari” means island, and “salo” once meant “great island”, whilst now it signifies “great forest area”.

Lake Päijänne is also the deepest in the country, with a maximum depth of 95.3 meters. It has an irregular shore, and since it is heavily forested, the lake also serves as a means of transportation for important timber operations.

The main settlements are Jyvaskyla to the North, Heinola to the South-East and Lahti, which is connected through Lake Vesijarvi and the Vaasky canal.

Paijanne was shaped by the land up-lift in the last Ice Age, and was the result of faults in the bedrock, created hundreds of million years ago. The lakebed is made up mainly of Precambrian granite and gneiss. This superficial morainic material allows the existence of sandy beaches on the lake’s shore.

Climate

There are four distinct seasons in the lake area. During winter, temperatures can reach -15-20OC, whilst the summer months warm up, serving a perfect climate for a holiday with a 20 degrees Celsius average. In July temperature can rise up to 25-27OC. Evenings and nights here are usually bright, since the sun sets and rises early.

Transportation

Lake Päijänne is connected to the Kertele, Vesijarvi and Ruotsalainen lakes through canals, and there have been numerous plans on connecting it with the Baltic Sea, but no concrete project was initiated yet. Until the 1940s the lake served as a major transportation hub in central Finland. Many ships transported passengers and freight between the villages and cities located on the coastline. These days, however, the lake is only home to tourist boat tours.

An underground aqueduct called the Päijänne Water Tunnel connects the lake to the Finnish capital city of Helsinki, providing it with water supplies.

Tourism and Recreation

Because the lake has pure waters, wide open mid-lake areas and great fishing grounds, it is one of the most popular lakes among fishermen. Pike and perch can be easily caught from the Eastern and Western bays of the lake. Zander can be found in the North, where the water is more lush and dark in color. Brown trout can be caught in the mid-lake areas.

Boating, canoeing and sailing are the most popular water sports activities on Lake Paijanne. Plenty of sandy shores await those who would like to relax and swim.

The 14 km2 Päijänne National Park lies on the lake’s Sputhern part and was established in 1993. It is mainly characterized by sandy eskers, small, isolated lagoons, tiny islets and steep rocks. Lei Vonmaki National Park, located a few kilometers north-east from the Northern shores of the lake is the youngest national park in Finland. The two reserves offer short nature trails and longer, marked trails leading up to scenic views of the lake.

Bird-watching is another popular activity. Ducks, geese, fowls, wading birds, cormorants and herons can be observed among the many reeds in the lake’s inlets or on the ridges around Lake Paijanne. Nature-lovers will be happy to discover wild berries and mushrooms, as well as 300 flower species, such as heath spotted orchids, marsh cinquefoils, water forget-me-nots, heathdog violets and leafy hawkweeds.