Snowshoeing is an easy winter activity and a fantastic way to enjoy the quietness and beauty of winter in Finland’s natural areas. A form of hiking, it allows you to discover a winter wonderland that would not be accessible on foot or skis. It is a great way to explore the snow-covered forests, swamps and fells of the great outdoors of Finland. It even makes familiar hikes different. Swamps that are impassable in summertime can be explored on snowshoes, and even thick layer of snow is not a problem due to the shape of a snowshoe – it distributes your weight so that you won’t sink completely into the snow.
In winter, you don’t have to worry about rough terrain either, as snow often makes your path soft and smooth, no matter what’s beneath. Your chances to find a winter wonderland for snowshoeing increase the further north you go.
How to get started
Most National Parks offer good snowshoeing opportunities – if there is snow. Unlike skiing, snowshoeing doesn’t require maintained trails. You are free to explore a winter wonderland without sticking to the trails. However, the easiest way to experience a snow shoeing adventure is by following the marked trails.
Check the National Park website or visit the Visitor Centre for information on snowshoeing opportunities. In Visitor Centres there are maps available of the marked trails in the area. Excursionmap.fi is a good source of information on winter trails in National Parks, too. Snowshoe equipment rentals and guided snowshoeing tours are offered by several outdoor service providers throughout Finland.
In each National Park, Parks & Wildlife Finland has a variety of authorized partners that offer organized activities and outdoor services in the area. They have a cooperation agreement with Parks & Wildlife Finland and they are committed to the principles of sustainable nature tourism. We recommend using services provided by these partners.
Snowshoeing suits everyone who can walk. Those trying it for the first time can take a marked circle trail on a flat terrain. Once you gain experience, you can head to untouched snow and more challenging terrain. However, we recommend remaining on marked trails for safety.
When planning a snowshoeing trip, get a trail map at the Visitor Centre or a local outdoor company or print your own from the National Park website. Take advantage of marked trails. Your best option is a marked winter trail. Some trails can even be dedicated to snowshoeing only. Please stay away from cross-country skiing tracks, as they are restricted to skiers only.
It is very easy and lots of fun to try snowshoeing by yourself. You can hire snowshoes for just a few hours or even for the whole week. If feeling insecure, consider taking a guided snowshoe trip with one of the outdoor service providers in the area. Enquire about a night-time snowshoeing trip combined with aurora viewing or star-gazing.
Dress properly and be familiar with layering for severe winter temperatures to prevent chilling and overheating. If you didn’t bring proper clothing, no problem. Just head to an outdoor store and they will help you out.
No permit is required for snowshoeing trips.
Winter weather in Finland can be extremely cold, windy and unpredictable. Bear in mind that daylight hours are limited in the winter. Wear proper clothing layers. Watch yourself and other members of your party for signs of hypothermia. Sun protection, especially eye protection, is important in the spring.
Always snowshoe with someone else. Leave word about where you are going, by what route, and when you plan to return.
Never enter an avalanche zone. This is important, especially when snowshoeing off a marked trail.
Make sure to wear warm and waterproof boots. When renting snowshoes, you can use your own boots, as the bindings of snowshoes are adjustable and will fit in different kind of shoes. Alternatively, you can get rental boots.
Carry extra clothing, food, snacks, water, up-to-date trail map and compass, matches and headlamp. Make sure to bring enough drinking water, even in low temperatures. Carry water in insulated bottles so it doesn’t freeze, or consider bringing warm drinks, such as tea or hot berry juice. Enquire locally if there are any wilderness cafes that sell hot drinks, pancakes and snacks along winter trails.
Carry a fully charged mobile phone and keep it warm. However, do not rely on it. Smart phones don’t always work in low temperatures. Keep in mind that cell phone coverage can be limited in some areas.
Emergency number in Finland is 112.
Plan your time. Include allowances for limited daylight, snow conditions, temperature extremes, and the number of people in the group, their experience and physical condition.
Do not approach reindeer or other wildlife.
Winter trail Etiquette
Winter trails are meant for snowshoeing, fat-biking, and walking. In most cases, dogs are welcome, too, if they are on a leash. Share the trail.
Be considerate. The faster yield to the slower.
Please note, that winter trail is different from cross-country skiing trail. Skiing trails - both classic cross-country tracks and skating lane - are for skiing only. Please do not snowshoe or walk on skiing trails.
If you need to take a break, please move off the marked trail. When possible, take advantage of the maintained campfire sites and wilderness cafes along the trail.