Instructions and Rules in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area

A woman, man and a child. The child is on the man's shoulders. In the background another fell.

Käsivarsi is a wilderness area with great Arctic fells. It is important to study matters dealing with the wilderness area in advance and prepare yourself properly for your trip by reading the instructions and rules.

Getting around in nature is limited in the restricted areas. Take a look at the restricted areas in the wilderness area on Maps pages and in Excursionmap.fi.

Respect Nature
Pets
Getting Around in Wilderness Area
Camping
Lighting Campfires
Litter-free Hiking
Fishing
Picking Berries, Mushrooms and Wild Herbs
Snowmobiling
Riding a Dog Sled
Other Rules and Instructions
Peak Seasons
Safety

Respect Nature

The documents that guide hiking in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area include:

So let’s behave respectfully towards nature when enjoying outdoor activities! Take a look at the Outdoor Etiquette.

Please don’t share any such contents on the Internet that break the rules of the wilderness area.

Letting pets running at large is forbidden. Dogs and other pets are welcome in the wilderness area but only on a leash.

Getting Around in Wilderness Area

Everyman's rights (ymparisto.fi) apply in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area.

In Käsivarsi Wilderness Area trails crosses over national borders at several points. Hikers should make sure that they are not carrying any items which you would need to declare in customs. Those wanting to take their dogs on their hike should contact Finnish Customs (tulli.fi) well in advance. Entering Sweden with a dog needs a report to Swedish customs (tullverket.se). Strict regulation applies to the export and import of dogs across the Norwegian and Swedish borders. For information on vaccines, worm doses and pet passports required for dogs, visit the Finnish Food Authority's website (ruokavirasto.fi).

Camping

Camping is an Everyman's right in the wilderness area.

Lighting Campfires

You can light a campfire in a wilderness area without separate permission, but building fires in areas where trees are scarce is not recommended. Permits to use fallen trees for firewood are not sold for Enontekiö area, and you can only use branches and sticks lying on the ground to build a fire. Use old campfire sites if you can find them. Do not use wood provided in the huts’ firewood sheds to make campfires. It is intended for heating the huts only.

When a forest fire warning has been issued, campfires are prohibited. In a protected area with a valid management plan or regulations, you should comply with these plans and regulations when lighting fires. When a forest or grass fire warning has been issued, making fires is also prohibited at campfire sites. Always check the current warnings (en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi). This prohibition does not apply to cooking shelters or other fireplaces with a flue.

Litter-free Hiking

The open wilderness huts and reservable huts in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area have waste containers. Nevertheless, hikers are encouraged to bring their own waste home.

You can put leftovers and other biowaste in a dry toilet at rest spots.

Small amounts of clean paper and cardboard may be used as kindling at a campfire site. Other waste, such as packages that contain aluminium foil or plastic, may not be burned in a fireplace, as they may form non-biodegradable waste and toxic gases.

Read more about Hiking without littering.

Fishing

Everyman's rights (ymparisto.fi) are valid in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area.

More information about fishing in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area.

For ice fishing and hook and line fishing, however, check the fishing regulations (eraluvat.fi).

Fishers need to check the restrictions on fishing sites at kalastusrajoitus.fi (In Finnish).

Picking Berries, Mushrooms and Wild Herbs

Picking berries and mushrooms and collecting many wild herbs are permitted in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area.

However, you always need the landowner’s permission to collect parts of trees, including buds and chaga mushrooms.

Snowmobiling

Please keep in mind that snowmobiling is not an everyman's right. Leisure snowmobiling is only allowed on marked snowmobile routes and tracks, as well as on ice-covered waterways.

Self-guided snowmobile excursions are permitted on:

  • The Victoria track, which runs along the border between Finland and Sweden from Muonio to Kilpisjärvi. Using this track is free of charge.
  • The snowmobile track leading from Palojärvi to Kilpisjärvi and routes leading off the main track: from Syväjärvi to Karesuvanto and from Raittijärvi to Saarikoski. To use these tracks, you must buy a national track permit issued by Metsähallitus (eraluvat.fi).
  • In Kilpisjärvi village area, where snowmobile tracks are managed by Kilpisjärven Ladut association. You must pay a track maintenance fee at kilpisjarvenladut.fi.

Please remember that it is not allowed to turn off the track without the landowner's permission!

Elsewhere in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area:

  • On tracks marked with sticks in the great fells area and on safari routes when guided by safari entrepreneurs.
  • In special cases, you can buy an off-road traffic permit for snowmobiling outside the marked tracks, for example for research purposes or to access a property. 

Snowmobiling maps

Riding a Dog Sled

It is allowed to use dog sleds in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, but reindeer may not be disturbed. Do not stop the sled close to reindeer, not even to take a picture. Disturbing reindeer in late winter and during calving season may cause substantial harm and result in claims for compensation. For your own safety and to prevent disturbance of reindeer husbandry, you should only use marked trails. Remember to close the gates of the reindeer fences after you.

Take all other people in consideration. Sled dogs are not allowed inside the huts. Sledding equipment may not be kept in the huts or in the sheds.

Keep dogs always on a leash. The dogs must be kept on a leash at least 50 metres from the hut and the leash may not be secured to the walls of the sheds. Notice, that there are no trees around the huts to be used to tie dogs. The dishes provided in the hut may not be used for feeding the dogs. To prevent the pollution of drinking water, make sure that the dogs are not lying on ice.

Dog waste must be picked up around the huts. If the hut has a dog park, the waste should be placed in the bin intended for this purpose. Do not put any other waste in this bin. Straw used as bedding for the dogs must not be left outside the hut. Dog parks can be found in Termisjärvi, Saarijärvi and Pitsusjärvi and at Meeko open wilderness hut.

You need a licence to operate a dog sledding business.

Other Rules and Instructions

The firewood provided at the wilderness and reservable huts may only be used for heating the hut. It may not be used for making a campfire. Think of sustainability and use the gas and firewood supplies sparingly. All firewood and gas bottles are transported to the hut across a distance of hundreds of kilometres. 

Käsivarsi is a special reindeer herding area, and the reindeer must not be disturbed. You must keep your dog on a leash at all times and close the gates in reindeer fences after going through them.

As a rule, a permit issued by Metsähallitus is required for activities other than those included in everyman's rights, which may include research, organised events and the shooting of films or advertisements in the terrain. Further information on required permits: research and access permits (metsa.fi) and permits and notifications related to events (metsa.fi).

The use of Metsähallitus’ trails and structures for business activities is always subject to a fee.

Peak Seasons

The most popular months for hiking are April and August. The most popular trail is Nordkalott Trail.

Safety

It is important that you get as much information as possible about your hiking destination in advance and prepare for your trip thoroughly. Knowing your route and sticking to it and knowing what the weather and warnings in effect (en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi) has in store, will help make your trip a success.

  • When travelling in the wilderness of Käsivarsi, you should at minimum bring a map, compass and appropriate hiking gear as required by the length of your trip. Remember that the weather conditions can change very quickly in open fell areas, and it can also snow in the summer. Getting lost in a snowstorm is very dangerous.
  • Dress for hiking in colorful clothes and according to the weather.
  • Toilet paper and water are good to have along.
    • Flowing water in this area is usually safe to drink. Natural water sources are not tested, however, and you use them at your own risk. In warm weather the water should be boiled. When near huts, you should take water from the location indicated in the hut book, usually upstream and far enough away from the buildings.
  • Hiking in wilderness areas is more demanding than on marked trails. For this reason it is good to be an experienced hiker before attempting a wilderness trek.
  • Remember to leave your route plan and timetable for example at Kilpisjärvi Visitor Centre.
  • Make sure you pack a first-aid kit. 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.
  • Mobile Phone Coverage:
    • While mobile networks have a wide coverage in Finland, there are blind spots in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area. Check the coverage of your network with your mobile phone operator. If the signal is weak, it may help to climb to a higher point and a more open area. Phones usually find the network at a height of 850 to 900 m. 
    • Close to the Norwegian border in Käsivarsi, connecting to the Norwegian network is quite easy if the phone has automatic network selection enabled. In this case, you must use the country code of the person you wish to call and leave out the first digit of the telephone number; for example, to call Finland you add the country code +358 and leave out the initial zero of the phone number.
    • When calling from areas with poor signal, you can try sending a text message to the person you wish to talk to, asking them to call you. You should then hold the phone as high up as possible, and it may receive calls. Removing your phone's SIM card when making an emergency call will also help you get through. You should note that there may be differences between different mobile phones regarding the signal strength.
    • We recommend that you keep your mobile phone warm at all times. Certain phone models do not work when the temperature falls below zero. To keep your mobile phone charged, bring along a spare power source, a spare battery or an old phone with a working battery.
    • Read more about mobile phone coverage (112.fi).
  • Hiking in Finland

Check for Warnings

When forest and grass fire warnings (en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi) are in effect, fire is only allowed at covered campfire sites that have a flue. A fire can be also lit in fireplaces at wilderness and other huts. Always use extreme caution when handling fire. The one who lights a fire is always responsible for its safe use. Please note, that making fire at these campfire sites can be banned locally. 

Drawing of a fireplace. The drawing shows the roof, the flue and off the ground.

112 Emergency Number

If you have an emergency during your trip, such as getting lost, injured or finding a wildfire, call 112. Read more detailed emergency instructions.

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Download the 112 Finland application (112.fi) to your phone. When an emergency call is made through the 112 Finland application, the emergency center attendant is automatically informed of the caller's location.

It is recommended to keep the mobile phone warm and to bring extra food and water with you. There are many excursion locations with no mobile coverage and some mobile phones does not work in sub-zero temperatures, that is why it is always a good idea to let someone know about your itinerary and timetable.

Outdoor Etiquette

1. Respect nature.

2. Mainly use marked trails.

3. Camp only where it is allowed.

4. Light your campfire only where it is allowed.

5. Do not litter.

Read more