Activities In Urho Kekkonen National Park

Hiking Ski cross-country on maintained trails Ski cross-country off trails Fishing Hiking Birdwatching Pick berries and mushrooms Sights and scenery Guided group tours Biking Horse riding Visit a Nature Centre Walk on a nature trail

Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of fell huts, with wilderness stretching as far as the eye can see. The area's natural beauty can be experienced on long treks in the park's extensive wilderness areas, or on shorter one-day hiking or skiing trips around Saariselkä Fells. The national parks' marked routes are situated aroud Saariselkä for daytrips and more demanding hiking areas are situated in the middel- and eastern parts of the national park for longer treks.

Hiking

Hiking on the marked trails of Urho Kekkonen National Park. Photo: Pasi Nivasalo

The extensive wilderness areas of Urho Kekkonen National Park can be explored on skis in winter and on foot in other times. Hiking outside marked trails requires wilderness and orienteering skills, and in winter the thick snow adds an additional layer of difficulty. A map and compass are necessary, since GPS devices are not always reliable in the remote wilderness. Nights can be spent at any of the many wilderness and reservation huts in the park, which are stocked with firewood. The huts are located about a day's journey apart from each other.

Although the routes are not marked, hikers have established trails in the park's most popular areas. Most of these trails are in terrain of average difficulty. One of the most popular unmarked routes is the Kiilopää–Suomuruoktu–Tuiskukuru–Luirojärvi–Lankojärvi–Kiilopää route (70–80 km).

Photo: Niina Pehkonen

Cross-Country Skiing

Skiers can make day trips within a maintained ski trail network in the vicinity of Saariselkä, Kiilopää, and Kakslauttanen. The total length of maintained ski trails in the area is 200 km, of which 70 km is located in Urho Kekkonen National Park's recreational and nature tourism zone. The length of the ski network varies depending on snowfall level. Snowfall is thickest in the early spring.

The network includes ski trails of various levels of difficulty to amateur skiers and serious skiing enthusiasts. Most of the ski trails are suited for both classic and skating styles. There are day trip huts and lean-tos along the routes, and these are stocked with firewood for snack breaks.

Photo: Aini Magga

Trekking

The wilderness in Urho Kekkonen National Park can also be enjoyed by hiking along marked routes. The marked hiking network (200 km) in the Saariselkä, Kiilopää, and Kakslauttanen area is good for day trips. Of the network, 70 km is located in Urho Kekkonen National Park's recreational and nature tourism zone. Visitors can pause to rest at day trip huts and lean-tos stocked with firewood along the hiking trails. The difficulty level of the trails varies. Trails that are suitable for everyone regardless of age or level of fitness (1-7 km) are equipped with information boards that introduce local nature and culture. Nature trails are located next to Saariselkä, Kiilopää, and Tankavaara Visitor Centres. In winter, nature trails are suitable for snowshoeing.

Kiilopää. Photo: Metsähallitus

Marked routes suitable for longer hikes that take several days include the Kemihaara–Korvatunturinmurusta Hiking Trail that leads towards Korvatunturi (18 km one way), Nuortti Hiking Trail (in Finnish) that follows the Nuorttijoki canyon (a 40 km circular trail), and historical Ruijanpolku Trail (in Finnish) (35 km one way) that passes through the Sompio Strict Nature Reserve in the south. There are wilderness huts, lean-tos, and campfire sites along the trails. The Kemihaara–Korvatunturinmurusta trail is of average difficulty, whereas the Nuortti and Ruijanpolku Trails are more demanding.

Luirojärvi. Photo: Juha Kaipainen, Metsähallitus

Other Activities

  • Fishing:
    • Licences are sold for the UK National Park recreational fishing area 1563 and 1568 for Luttojoki river and then licence for Nuorttijoki river 3550 (www.eraluvat.fi). In addition to the regional fishing permit, fishers must also have paid the fisheries management fee (www.eraluvat.fi).
    • Hook-and-line- fishing and ice fishing are permitted in the area free-of-charge as Everyman's Rights (www.ym.fi). Both of these are however forbidden in rapids and running waters with migratory fish stocks or in other bodies of water where fishing is forbidden by fishing legislation.
    • Recreational fishing permits can be bought from Metsähallitus netstore (www.eräluvat.fi), at Kiehinen Customer Service and at Ivalo Customer Service, which all also offer additional information on fishing, fishing areas and permit practices.
    • Note that locals have more extensive fishing rights than visitors.
    • Fishers need to check the restrictions on fishing sites at kalastusrajoitus.fi (In Finnish).
  • Bird-watching: Birds that can be spotted in the national park include the golden eagle, Siberian jay, willow grouse, or golden plover. There are two observation towers along the Tankavaara Nature Trails.

Siberian jay. Photo: Aini Magga

  • Visitor centre: Saariselkä Customer Service Kiehinen and Savukoski Visitor Centre Korvatunturi provide information on the national park. Ask for hiking tips, make reservations on reservation and rental huts, and purchase fishing, hunting, and cross-country traffic permits. Permanent and temporary exhibitions, AV presentations, a shop.
  • Berry and mushroom picking: Berry and mushroom picking is permitted in the national park.
  • Canoeing: Excellent canoeing spots include Rivers Luirojoki and Kopsusjoki. There are no marked canoeing routes in the national park.
  • Hunting: Only local residents are allowed to hunt in Urho Kekkonen National Park within the area of the municipality of their residence, and are subject to the Hunting Act regulations.
  • Sights and the views: Hike to Lake Luirojärvi in the wilderness of the national park, and to Sokosti, the highest fell in the area, which rises on the eastern side of the park, Paratiisikuru or Vongoivanräystäs. Visit the clear-watered Suomujokilaakso or Korvatunturi in the border zone between Finland and Russia. There are many ways visitors can explore the local cultural heritage, for example by visiting the homesteads of the Skolt Sámi people in the northern part of the national park, the Raja-Jooseppi homestead near the Russian border, and the German defence post in Tankavaara that dates back to the Second World War. Easily reachable observation points include the top of Kiilopää and Kaunispää near the border of the national park in Saariselkä.

Vongoivanräystäs. Photo: Petteri Polojärvi, Metsähallitus

  • Cycling: On summertime cycling is permitted on a marked routes only and on the following routes: KakslauttanenKopsusjärvi, NiilanpääSuomunruoktu, Raja-Jooseppi‒Anterinmukka (about 25 km one way), KemihaaraPeskihaaraKeskipakat, Kemihaara‒Mantoselkä (11 km one way), and Kemihaara‒Rakitsat.
    • Cycling on wintertime is allowed all over, but not on a skiing trakcs.
  • Horseback riding: Horseback riding is permitted in the national park on routes: Kemihaara‒Peskihaara-Keskipakat, KemihaaraMantoselkä, Kemihaara‒Rakitsat and Kakslauttanen-Kopsusjärvi lakes' terraintrail shelter (laavu) until.
  • Dog sled or Husky driving is forbidden. 
  • Volunteer activities: Visitors can participate in the park's operations at voluntary workers' camps, Junior Ranger camps, and various events. The park also has international volunteer activities.