Old Water Route to the Goldfields of the River Lemmenjoki

Location of Lemmenjoki in FinlandNorthern Lapland
Inari (www.inari.fi)
Lemmenjoki National Park, Kettujoki Mire Reserve

The route could be called, for example, the Golden Route along the River Lemmenjoki, as the gold diggers travelled to the goldfields along this river before the Inari–Kittilä road was constructed at the end of the 1960s. Still today, the section between Njurkulahti and Kultahamina can only be made by boat or on foot. However, it is noteworthy that this route was important even before the gold find in the area in 1945. Roads were not constructed in Inari before the 1920s. Before that, people travelled along water routes, and along the ice of the lakes in winter.

The route does not require any special boating skills, unless it is very windy. However, the route is long, so it is necessary to have a fairly good physical and mental health. Wilderness skills are also required. Allow about one week for the trip, if you set off from Sikovuono. At its shortest (the section from Njurkulahti to Kultahamina and back), the trip takes two days.

The parts of the route are very different from each other. The open lake areas, the hills with pine forests, and the fells behind them characterise Lake Muddusjärvi, Lake Solojärvi, and Lake Paadarjärvi.

The River Kettujoki, with its coves and lush shores, on which there are also some houses, represents a different kind of world. It appears to be more southern, whereas Ala-Lemmenjoki snakes in between the pine heaths and the eskers. The final section (i.e. the stretch from Njurkulahti to Kultahamina) first runs along long lakes and stretches of strongly flowing waters and then along a canyon lake that is bordered by rugged rock walls.

There are also other variations along the route. In places, the route runs close to settlements, and then again in the wilderness. The route can also be carried out in sections. The possible starting points are Sikovuono of Lake Muddusjärvi, Riutula, Lake Solojärvi, and Njurkulahti. As the route's ending point, Kultahamina, is located in the heart of the roadless national park, you must return to Njurkulahti along the same route as during the early part of your trip.

You can also travel to Lake Paadarjävi and further on to River Lemmenjoki along the wide, lake-like River Vaskojoki. In this case, start your trip from along the Inari–Angeli road, by the River Vaskojoki bridge. This option has only been possible since the end of the 1970s, when a road to Angeli was constructed. Consequently, the River Vaskojoki has never been part of the old Golden Route, but if this fact does not disturb you, the River Vaskojoki provides an alternative to River Kettujoki.

At its shortest, the trip is 40 kilometres long. In this case, the departure and the return take place at Njurkulahti. The route Lake Solojärvi – Njurkulahti – Kultahamina – Njurkulahti is 73 kilometres long, and the route Riutula – Lake Solojärvi – Njurkulahti – Kultahamina – Njurkulahti is 82 kilometres long. When setting off from Sikovuono and ending your trip at Njurkulahti, the length of your trip is 90 kilometres.