Instructions for Exploring the Piilola Trail 

The trail on the Finnish side is in the area of Vätsäri Wilderness Area and in Norway the trail goes in the Øvre Pasvik National Park.

The wildernessa cottage Ellenvatnet in Norway. Photo: Pasi Nivasalo

Camping and Campfires

On the Finnish side camping is free and also along the trail in Norwegian side.

Finland:

  • Lighting campfires is completely forbidden when a forest fire warning is in effect. It is recommended that you use the official campfire sites by the lean-to shelters and open wilderness huts or, at least, that you use the campfire bases when you find one. That way you are able to reduce the erosion of the terrain.
    • Making open fires is always prohibited at both marked campfire sites and when fires are permitted by the land owner if a forest fire warning has been issued for the area (ilmatieteenlaitos.fi).
    • This prohibition does not apply to cooking shelters or other fireplaces with a flue.

Norway:

  • In the Øvre Pasvik National Park, lighting a campfire is only allowed using dry branches and twigs at the official campfire sites. Lighting campfires is generally forbidden in the woodlands between 15 April and 15 September. 


Preparations

Crossing the Finnish–Norwegian Border

  • Citizens of the Schengen countries and those citizens of a third country who have a residence permit or a visa for a Schengen country may walk freely across the Finnish-Norwegian border as long as they have nothing to declare. If required, you must be able to prove your identity, so take an identity card (such as a passport) with you. 

Mobile Phone Coverage

  • Although Finland has a broad network for mobile phones, there are some areas in the Piilola Trail without signal. There may also be some smaller spots where there is interference. If this happens try to climb to a higher place or go into an open area. It may be worth removing the SIM card from your phone and then trying again to make emergency call. Different phones also differ in their coverage.
  • We recommend that you keep your mobile phone warm at all times and take along food and drink. Certain phone models do not work when the temperature falls below zero. You should therefore let someone know your planned route. To keep your mobile phone charged, bring along a spare power source, a spare battery or an old phone with a working battery.

Photo: Pasi Nivasalo

Safety

  • For a safe hike, you will need to have experience and you must plan your hike carefully and enquire about local conditions in advance. 
  • Remember to inform your friends, close relatives, your place of stay or the visitor centres about you, your schedule and your route plans. Also inform them, as far as possible, of any changes to your route and schedule. It is also advisable to write about your trip in the guestbooks at the open wilderness huts. The area's rescue service has been statutorily organised and it can be reached via the Emergency Response Centre (ERC). Remember to inform others of your arrival at the destination in order to avoid raising any unnecessary search alarms. The rescue service will invoice for unnecessary searches. Remember that the telephone number that you must first use in an emergency is 112!
  • If you face an emergency on your hike, e.g. get lost, get injured or observe wildfire, call 112 and report an emergency. More information on how to act in an emergency.
  • Make sure you pack a first-aid kit.
  • The spring floods and the heavy rains in summer and autumn raise the surface of the watercourses, so be careful if you decide to cross any rivers. 
  • Read more about the safety and equipment matters on the Hiking in Finland webpages.

Equipment 

  • In the wilderness, you will need proper hiking gear: a map, a compass, a tent, appropriate clothes, a sleeping bag, a camping stove and a sufficient amount of food. Correct and sufficient gear and hiking experience will guarantee a successful hike.  
Seasons
  • The snow melts in the area by the end of May. 
  • It usually gets warm in mid-June but some frosty nights in the middle of the growing season may occur. The summer and the midnight sun offer you great experiences thanks to the unique light conditions.  
  • Midsummer also brings the mosquitoes. The period when the number of mosquitoes, blackflies, horseflies and biting midges is at its highest lasts until the end of August. 
  • The period of the autumn colours, or ‘ruska', is at its best in the early part of September and the colour spectacle continues until the latter part of the month. The time of the autumn colours and their intensity are determined by the coolness of the nights and the amount of rainfall in summer. It is also possible for autumn storms to blow the birch leaves off the trees before the colour display even starts.
  • The first snowfalls come in September-October and permanent snow cover envelops the ground in October-November.
  • You can obtain updated information on conditions in the terrain from Ivalo Customer Service, the Siida Nature Centre and Bioforsk Svanhovd.  

High Season

  • Only a few frequent the Piilola Trail in summer – some of them hike, and others fish or pick berries. There are no peaks as such but the period from midsummer to August and the coming of the autumn colours are the most popular hiking times. 

Emergency number 112

In case of an emergency along the way, for example if you get lost or injured or see a forest fire, dial 112. Detailed instructions.

Dogs must be kept on a leash! Photo: Seppo Leinonen

Dogs must be kept on a leash!