In Finland there’s nearly an endless amount of walking paths, hiking trails, and skiing tracks that cover thousands of kilometres in every part of the country from the archipelago in the southwest, through Lakeland Finland in the middle of the country, to the felltops of Lapland in the far north.
Most national parks have several marked trails that range in length from a couple hundred metres to dozens of kilometres, and you can usually choose from a selection of trails according to your level of physical fitness and the time you have available. Short interpretative trails provide information about the nature and history of the area and are excellent for a brief 2-3 hour visit to a park. Certain parks also offer multi-day or even multi-week backpacking experiences through long stretches of untouched wilderness. Even though all the trails are marked hikers should pack along a paper map and a compass as well as their GPS-enabled devices.
In principle in Finland most trails are considered shared-use trails meaning that trails are meant to be multipurpose and should take all users into consideration. For example, when biking on trails also meant for walking use caution and give way to those who are slower than you.
- Nature trails – short, interpretive trails that provide information about the nature and history of the area. Usually fairly easy to hike, these trails offer a brief but informative hands-on experience of the park. They often include information boards with English text too.
- Accessible trails – in some parks there are fairly flat paths that can be paved or have duckboards which are accessible to all park visitors including those in wheelchairs. Like nature trails they often include information boards and interpretive signs.
- Backcountry trails – many national parks and designated hiking and wilderness areas have long marked trails that can cover hundreds of square kilometres of wilderness. In Lapland these trails are often the only access points to great swaths of the backcountry and are also used by reindeer herders. To thoroughly enjoy a multi-day trek though wilderness areas one must have good backcountry skills and proper equipment especially during the colder months of the year. Always carry a good topographical map and a compass and know how to use them.
- Cross-country ski tracks – in winter many parks have maintained and groomed cross-country ski tracks that can vary in length from a few kilometres to several dozen. Some include both tracks for classic-style skiing and freestyle or skating-style skiing. It’s an unwritten rule and considered poor etiquette to walk or bike on groomed ski tracks as footprints and tyre tracks can interfere with smooth skiing and skiers can move at high speeds down hillsides.
- Snowshoe routes – some national parks also have marked snowshoe routes in winter. These often lead through more challenging terrain than ski tracks.
- Mountain bike trails – some national parks have trails designated for mountain biking and fat biking. They vary in length and level of difficulty. Most are singletrack trails but usually wide enough for two bikes to pass each other. Most designated mountain bike trails are shared-use trails which means hikers can also follow the same routes. Use caution. In winter do not ride on groomed ski tracks.