NPP Slobozhansky is located on the banks of the Merla River and at the place of its confluence with the Merchik River. It is divided into two parts by the village of Cherneschyna and the T1702 highway. A north part (right bank of Merla) is covered with natural oak forests with splashes of linden and maple trees, also there is an abandoned apple orchard with very tasty apples. This bank is higher and drier than the left one, although the wetlands are also present, mainly around the springs.
The left, southern bank of Merla is lower and marshy. The main vegetation on it is partly natural, partly artificial pine forest. There are also areas of inundated oak forests and bogged alder and birch forests.
The most popular part of the NPP is sphagnum and sedge-sphagnum swamps on the left bank of Merla. These are natural communities unique to the region. Their inhabitants are rare and endangered species of plants and animals, listed both in the local lists of protected species and in the International Red Book. The territory of NPP Slobozhansky is the southernmost border of the spread of these ecosystems.
The territory of the national park has suffered greatly from human activity. Because of the felling, the forests are fragmented, the areas of the preserved ecosystems are separated by a network of regenerating, overgrown grass or fast-growing trees.
The flora of the park is very diverse and is represented both by species living in coniferous and deciduous forests, and inhabiting swamps, meadows and steppes. The animals are inhabited by many birds, small mammals and amphibians (weasels, lizards, toads), and you can meet quite large ones - foxes, badgers, boars. The park's symbols are beavers. Employees of the NPP several times a year organize volunteer trips to count them, and it is easy to find the trees they have bitten walking around the park. It was possible to preserve and restore the unique marshy lowlands of the park thanks to the restoration of the beaver population.
The most ancient of them are Scythian and Old Slavic barrows. Near the village of Gorodnaya, the castle mound is preserved, which belongs to the national monuments. Manor Natalyivka and Krasnokutsky arboretum perfectly fit into a walk through the park. On the north of the park you can sing on the Singing Terraces. And just 15 km from the NPP located Sharovsky Castle. More information about all these attractions can be found in their sections on our website.
Tourism and outdoor recreation
In NPP Slobozhansky it will be interesting to walk with backpacks, and relax with barbecue near the river. Park staff created and maintains ecological paths and hiking trails, equipped with 4 recreational points with pavilions, firewood and places for fires.
Ecotrail “Murafska Dacha” - a short route near Natalyivka and the Holy Transfiguration Church.
The route “To the peat bogs” passes through a pine forest parallel to the left bank of the Merla River and visits beaver swamps where you can look at their hut and gnawed trees (however, there are plenty of such trees in other places of the park). It starts from the park administration house and ends in the tent camp “Cossack camp”.
The “Forgotten stitches” route is the longest, it starts from the singing terraces in Gorodny, goes north to the border of the park where the tent camp is located, and from there through the apple orchard, the swamped beaver rowing goes to the lake Olshanka. There are springs with excellent water near the tent camp and the beaver house. On official maps, the beginning of the route is near the lake, but it is more logical to go from the back side to continue the route along the other side of the park.
The path “Sosnoviy Lis” begins from the “Cossack camp” and goes along the left bank of the Merla river upstream, visits several beaver swamps, and then turns south and through the village Sorokovaya goes to Natalyivka, connecting there with the first ecotrail.
The territory of the park is perfectly adapted for hiking. Over the weekend, you can get around it - start in village Kozievka, along the route “Forgotten stitches” (you can visit the Singing Terraces also) through the lake Olshanka go to the Cossack camp and spend the night there. The places are very beautiful and completely uninhabited, you will most likely see the first people near the lake. And for the second day, walk through the pine forest and visit Nataliivka. If you walk fast you would be able to return to Krasnokutsk where a lot of buses go to Kharkiv.
Recreational points are perfect for a more relaxing holiday. Two of them (on the route "Forgotten stitches" and "Kozatsky camp") allow you to stay for a few days with tents. The others are not far from the park administration, equipped with sheds, toilets and campfire places and are great for picnics.
All paths and rest points are equipped with signs and information boards. On routes in the most seemingly inaccessible places, suddenly you meet a beautiful information board about the life of badgers or anthills. Park workers are making great efforts to keep them in good condition.
Visiting the park and using the rest areas is paid, but the sum is symbolic.
How to get there!?
from Kharkov - on the motorway P46 before turning to Gubarevka, then turn onto T1702, go along it to Kozievka (from there you can already start walking through the park). If you need to arrive at the main entrance of the park - turn left in Kozievka and take the T1702 to Krasnokutsk, then go to the left in the center in the direction of Kachalovka. The entrance to the park is located not far from the bridge across the Merla river. From other cities: via Mirgorod or Poltava to Oposhnya, farther to Krasnokutsk.
By public transport from Kharkov: To Krasnokutsk: there are municipal minibuses and private drivers from the new bus station in the Central Market. Only private drivers to Koziyevka, they start from the same bus station. Schedule and registration by phone 067 997 25 48 and 097 984 70 90 (these are different drivers, the schedule is different). It is better to call a day or two before the expected date and arrive at the station in advance - usually there are more people than places in the minibuses. There are also organized trips to the park and volunteer trips.