Pakasaivo and the Kirkkopahta Seida Rock

Pakasaivo and the Kirkkopahta Seida Rock Location in FinlandWestern Lapland
Muonio (www.muonio.fi, in Finnish)
The Pakasaivo protected forest, 325 ha, and the Seitapahta recreational forest, 8 ha
The area is managed by Metsähallitus.


Regal Lake Pakasaivo possesses unique natural beauty and is a fascinating geological formation and hiking destination with strong mythological traditions. The Pakasaivo ravine lake located in Muonio in the immediate vicinity of the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park and the nearby Kirkkopahta seida rock are ancient Sámi holy places.

Rugged Scenery of Pakasaivo. Photo: Juha Paso

Pakasaivo Is a Saivo Lake

The narrow one-kilometre-long Pakasaivo lake was formed in a rupture valley moulded and cleaned by the melting waters of the ice sheet. The northern end of the lake is remarkably round and regular in shape, and it is considered the largest giant's kettle in Finland. Pakasaivo, also known as the "Hell of Lapland," is 60 metres at its deepest, and the steep cliff walls surrounding the lake reach up to 60 metres above water level.

The ravine lake is the second deepest body of water in Northern Finland after Lake Inarijärvi. People used to believe saivo lakes to have two bottoms, with the fish sometimes disappearing to the lower waters. The saivo lakes also intrigued the folklorist Samuli Paulaharju:

"The most peculiar waters in Lapland are the saivo lakes - these wondrous lakes could only exist in Lapland, the land of wonders. Actual perfect saivo lakes are closed-off fell and ravine lakes that have no kind of stream running to or from them." (Lapin muisteluksia ["Memoirs from Lapland"], 1922)

Awe-Inspiring Sámi Places of Worship

The place of worship at Pakasaivo was most likely located on the rugged cliffs off the eastern shore of the northern end of the lake. There are small caverns in the eastern wall of the ravine, which have possibly served as sacrificial caves. The Kirkkopahta rock near Pakasaivo is a lone large boulder in an otherwise even-floored pine heath. Samuli Paulaharju describes Pakasaivo and Kirkkopahta as follows:

"From time immemorial, ancient men and their forefathers have dwelled here, respecting and wondering at the handsome Pakasaivo lake and going to worship at the large Seitapahta behind the lake." (Lapin muisteluksia["Memoirs from Lapland"], 1922.) "And Seitapahta is also known as Kirkkopahta, as it has been a church of sorts for the people of Lapland." (Seitoja ja seidan palvontaa ["Seida places and seida worship"], 1932)

Cultural Environment of National Significance

The Pakasaivo and Kirkkopahta relic areas rank amongst Finland's cultural environments of national significance. The Pakasaivo area is a protected forest established by Metsähallitus, and the areas surrounding Seitapahta form a recreational forest. Visitors to the Pakasaivo area should follow marked routes when hiking in the area. Damaging the relics is strictly forbidden (www.finlex.fi, in finnish). In a nearby area, to the north of Äkäslompolo, there is another well-known Sámi holy place, Lake Äkässaivo with its Seitapahta seida rock.

Read more about saivo lakes and seida rocks.

Opening Hours

  • You can visit Pakasaivo and Kirkkopahta mainly from spring to autumn when there is no snow on the ground, as the forest road leading to Pakasaivo is not ploughed regularly in winter. During the winter months, Pakasaivo is accessible via a snowmobile route. There are no personnel in the area.

Contact Information

More information is available at the Yllästunturi Visitor Centre Kellokas.

Directions

Pakasaivo is located roughly 25 km from Äkäslompolo, some 40 km from Kolari and roughly 67 km from Kittilä. The distance from Muonio is roughly 80 km. The distance to Kirkkopahta is a few kilometres shorter. There are signposts leading from the main road to the Pakasaivo parking area.

By Car

To Pakasaivo:

  • Driving from Kolari along road no. 21 (E8), take the Äkäslompolontie road (no. 940) roughly 10 km north of the village centre and drive almost all the way to Hannukainen. At Hannukainen, turn northwest onto the Pakasaivontie road and continue for roughly 13 km. There are signposts along the road, and at Pakasaivo, the road veers to the left towards the parking area.
  • Driving from Kittilä, take the Ylläsjärvi-Kolari road (no. 939) immediately after the village centre. After Ylläsjärvi village, take the road leading to Hannukainen (no. 9404). As you reach the Kolari-Äkäslompolo road, turn left and then, after 700 metres, right onto the Pakasaivontie road. For the rest of the way, please see above.
  • Driving along the Muonio-Kittilä road (no. 79), take the Äkäslompolontie road (no. 940) at Muotkavaara. Drive through Äkäslompolo village and 1 km past Hannukainen. For the rest of the way, please see above.

To Kirkkopahta:

  • The destination is located along the Pakasaivontie road, less than 3 km before Pakasaivo and some 100 metres off the road.
  • At Kirkkopahta, there is a parking area on the west side of the road. The seida rock is visible from the forest road.

The Pakasaivontie road (13 km) off Hannukainen is not ploughed regularly in winter!

By Public Transportation

  • There are no public transport connections to the destinations. The nearest bus stop is at Hannukainen, roughly 13 km from the destinations, and coaches from Äkäslompolo, Kolari, Kittilä and Levi travel there. The timetables are available on Matkahuolto's website (www.matkahuolto.fi). During the season, there is a train connection to Kolari. Timetables (www.vr.fi).

Maps

Pakasaivo and Seida Rock © Metsähallitus 2016

Electronic Maps

Other Maps

  • Topographic map number U423, 1:50,000. Karttakeskus 2007. You can purchase the map from, for example, Karttakeskus.
  • Forest Map 11-13, 1:250,000. Metsähallitus 2011. You can purchase the map from   the Kellokas Visitor Centre.
  • GT Road Map 14, 1:250,000. Karttakeskus 2013. You can purchase the map from Karttakeskus and the National Land Survey of Finland.

Map Sales Points

Services

Hiking Route and Campfire Site

  • A roughly 200-metre-long wide trail leads to the lookout point on the shores of Pakasaivo, and it can also be taken by wheelchair and with prams or pushchairs. Viewing platform and stairways have been built on the verge of the ravine.
  • Next to the Pakasaivo parking area, there is a dry toilet.

Cafés, Restaurants and Accommodation

  • The Ylläs tourism area offers an abundance of cafés, restaurants and accommodation services. For more information on the area's services, please visit the Ylläs website (www.yllas.fi).

Services for the Disabled

  • The roughly 200-metre trail leading from the parking area to the Pakasaivo lookout point is accessible for people with physical disabilities. When travelling by wheelchair, some assistance may be required. There is a wheelchair-accessible toilet by the parking area.

Snowmobile Routes

  • Pakasaivo is located along the snowmobile route south of Muonio. The destination is accessible from Äkäslompolo, Ylläsjärvi, the Muonionjoki River, Kolari, Kittilä and Muonio. You do not need a permit for riding a snowmobile on the routes.

Other Nearby Destinations

  • The Valkeajoki Marking Hut is located on the Pakasaivontie road, and it has been restored to depict life in its old logging site days. The hut is an open wilderness hut that is open to visitors, but lighting a fire in the hut's stove is not permitted.
  • Roughly one kilometre to the west from Pakasaivo, on the shores of Lake Pakajärvi, there is a scenic steep-hilled ridge. The northern shore of the lake used to house the dwelling of the local Suikki Sámi family.