UKK Trail is a national hiking trail which leads across Finland, through the municipalities of Salla and Savukoski as well as crosses through Tuntsa Wilderness Area. It has been detailed from Naruska to Tulppio (112 km), of which 21 km is within Tuntsa Wilderness Area. This section of the trail is wilderness-like which leads across rugged and grand landscape at times climbing to fell peaks and at others following the banks of the River Naruskajoki in low lands.
UKK Hiking Trail Level of Difficulty
Even inexperienced hikers can travel short sections of the UKK trail as long as they choose a section which leads across relatively easy to travel and is well marked. Those who plan on going for longer treks should at least have good orienteering skills and be in good shape as there are sharp climbs at points. The UKK Trail is a summer hiking trail. Though there are duckboards across the wettest parts of the trail hikers should have waterproof footwear with them. Hikers do not however need to cross any rivers by wading as there are bridges at each crossing point. The trail is not suited for the disabled.
Starting Points for Excursions
- When setting off from the south hikers can get onto the UKK Hiking Trail at the village of Naruska, where the trail leads along the road leading to Tuntsa for a while.
- The trail can also be travelled from north to south in which case Tulppio is the trail's starting point.
- Driving instructions to trail starting points
- Other possible starting points for the trail
- the village of Tuntsa
- Auermavaarankuusikko where the UKK Hiking Trail crosses the road to Tuntsa.
- Tuntsa Pub
- Naruskan tammi - a dam in the River Naruskajoki on the south side of Lake Naruskajärvi built during log floating days.
- Naruska Village - Karhutunturi Fell 5 km
- Karhutunturi Fell - Naruskan tammi Dam 34 km
- Naruskan tammi Dam - Sorsatunturi Fell 16 km
- Sorsatunturi Fell - Takkaselkä Fell 10 km
- Takkaselkä Fell - Juntterivaara Fell 13 km
- Juntterivaara Fell - Härkätunturi Fell 18 km
- Härkätunturi Fell - Tulppio 16 km
The trail is marked in the terrain for the most part with orange-red markings. The section which leads around Karhutunturi Fell is marked with blue markings.
- There is a connecting trail to the section of UKK Hiking Trail which leads to the village of Naruska, from the section which leads through the Sallatunturi Area, but the portion of this trail leading from Kelloselkä to Naruska is poorly marked at some points.
- Hikers can continue northward from Tulppio along the UKK Hiking Trail all the way to the starting point for Nuortti Hiking Trail.
Naruska Village - Karhutunturi Fell 5 km
At the village of Naruska the UKK Hiking Trail leads along the road to Tuntsa for some time. There is no actual starting point for the trail or a parking area for hikers to leave vehicles at, but cars can be left by the side of the road where it is suitably wide. At Siekaköngäs forest road turns to the left and crosses a bridge across the River Naruskajoki. The UKK Hiking Trail follows the route of the road along the west side of the river to the foot of Karhutunturi Fell. From the foot of the fell hikers can stray from the main trail to see the peak of Karhutunturi Fell and Karhutunturi campfire shelter, which is 2 km from the main trail.
The Lapps had a trade route, which lead between Siekavaara Fell and Karhutunturi Fell. It came from the direction of Saija and continued from here east over the River Naruskajoki and along the bank of the River Saukko-oja to Lake Saukkojärvi. From there the trade route lead to the mouth of the River Tenniöjoki and onward via the River Sankarijoki and the east side of Puitsitunturi Fell to Lake Hirvasjärvi in Russia. Lapps took flour and forest prey with them on their trade journeys, of which some led all the way to Kemi.
Karhutunturi Fell - Naruskan tammi Dam 34 km
Karhutunturi campfire shelter is a wonderful place to stop and rest. A trail leads from the campfire shelter to the peak of Karhutunturi Fell. There is an old fire guard's hut at the top of the fell. An old telephone line rose to the hut and there are still signs of the cable left behind.
The UKK Hiking Trail continues down hill to Naruska river valley and on from there towards the north following the River Naruskajoki at the foot of Saukkosuunvaara Fell. The trail then descends even closer to the River Naruskajoki and reaches Halti campfire shelter.
- The campfire shelter was built on a war time airfield. The airstrip is completely tree stump free! The bunker hill with its airport was used by Germans during the Second World War. The base was a guard front for the wilderness area. From this air base there was a phone line to the nearest village which was situated by the Salla - Saija road. An old trail also leads from the village and rises along the embankment making it way to the bunker hill and then ends when reaching the UKK Hiking Trail.
Halti campfire shelter is situated right next to the River Naruskajoki. From the campfire shelter the trail first long along the river bank and then along the River Alimmainen Suoltijoki all the way to the Suoltijoen alatammi Dam, where the trail crosses the river. The trail then winds through dry forest and makes it ways back to the edge of the River Naruskajoki. Soon after this the rush of rapids can be heard and Pystökoski campfire shelter comes into sight.
From the Pystökoski Rapids the trail continues northward along the river's embankment. The forest here is mostly pine and the UKK Hiking Trail travels for the most part along dry sand and gravel ridge backs. Fishers can try their luck and if it is good they can make fish soup at the next rest spot.
It is about 11 km from the Pystökoski Rapids to Ministerikota campfire shelter. Before reaching Ministerikota campfire shelter the trail travels high on the embankment in the shade of grand old pines. The campfire shelter was named because of many ministers of parliament visiting this area.
From Ministerikota campfire shelter it is only a 4 km hike to Naruskan tammi Dam. At the dam hikers can rest at the cooking shelter situated right by the river. The rapids at the dam are a good fishing spot. Naruskan tammi Dam is an old dam device which was used during log floating days to raise the surface of Lake Naruskajärvi.
Naruskan tammi Dam - Sorsatunturi Fell 16 km
From Naruskan tammi Dam the UKK Hiking Trail first travels south along the road to Tuntsa for 3 km. It then turns left off the road heading east and follows the River Sorsajoki all the way to the foot of Sorsatunturi Fell. The trail does not climb to the top of the fell, but it is possible to climb up by following the sign for the snow mobile track. The slope up Sorsatunturi Fell is rocky and difficult to climb, but the over 2 km long climb is well worth it as the view of the surrounding fell landscape is magnificent. The source of the River Tenniöjoki meanders down below behind the fell and acting as the divider between Finland and Russia. The actual national border can be seen further in the south on the right as a white stripe down a fell slope. The Tenniöjärvi Lake back shimmers in the southeast on the Russian side of the border.
Hikers can get down from the fell top along the snow mobile track which descends from the peak towards the northeast. The snow mobile track leads to Sorsa campfire shelter where hikers can get back onto the UKK Hiking Trail. The actual UKK Hiking Trail goes around Sorsatunturi Fell along its lower slope to Sorsa campfire shelter.
Sorsatunturi Fell - Takkaselkä Fell 10 km
From Sorsa campfire shelter the UKK Hiking Trail leads along the eastern lower slope of Kaunisoiva Fell and then arcs right towards Jäkälätunturi Fell and climbs up to its peak. The upper slope of the fell and the top are notably even and almost completely rock-free, only covered with lichen heathland. The trail then circles the ravine between Jäkälätunturi Fell and Takkaselkätunturi Fell on its left side and then begins the climb to the top of Takkaselkätunturi Fell where Takkaselkä reservable wilderness hut is located.
Takkaselkä Fell - Juntterivaara Fell 13 km
The ridgeback between the fells is covered by spruce forest. Over 2 km of the trail travels through this forest until it reaches an area burnt down by forest fires. The UKK Hiking Trail forks off onto two separate trail options on the west slope of the next fell, which is Kuskoiva. The trail options go west to Pirunkirkko and north to Tuntsa.
- Pirunkirkko route option 13 km: From the fork in the path it is 4 km to Pirunkirkko. The exceptional cliffs there rise high up and are a natural sight. After passing Pirunkirkko the trail crosses the Naruska - Tuntsa road and heads towards Juntterivaara Fell. You can also choose the longer option which travels through Tuntsa.
- Tuntsa route option 21 km: The route to Tuntsa leads along the western slope of Kuskoiva Fell to Nuoluskuru campfire shelter. From there hikers can go over the highlands along the edge of Nuolusoiva to the bank of the River Aitto-oja. The trail then continues following the river loosely along an old road to a bridge which crosses the River Ylimmäinen Nuolusoja and then reaches the road to Tuntsa. Before the trail reaches the River Ylimmäinen Nuolusoja it passes a campfire site. There is a cooking shelter by the River Tuntsajoki about 350 m down the road to Tuntsa from the point where the UKK Hiking Trail reaches the road. The UKK Hiking Trail continues along the Tuntsa road to Saihoselkä and from there to Juntterivaara Fell.
The two route options for the UKK Hiking Trail, described above, meet again on the north side of Juntterivaara Fell.
Juntterivaara Fell - Härkätunturi Fell 18 km
From Juntterivaara onward the landscape becomes spruce forest dominated hill and ridgeback terrain. This watershed zone is the source of both the River Värriöjoki and the River Tuntsajoki. West of Juntteri on the Saihoselkä ridgeback there are a few pines which have persevered among the spruce trees. In the driest forests the pines are grand and old.
After passing Juntterivaara the trail enters Tuntsa Wilderness Area. The forest before reaching Murhahaara is spruce dominated. Only a few snow battered pines stand defiantly in this pine and rock filled rugged landscape. Visitors can rest for a good while at Murhahaara open wilderness hut which is situated on the edge of Murhahaaranaapa bog, before setting off on the next section.
The UKK Hiking Trail continues from Murhahaara deeper into the untouched backwoods. The rocky highlands and fells dominate the landscape. The long ridge of Värriötunturi Fell slopes up and down on the right to the north. Värriö Strict Nature Reserve is also in this direction. Short spruce trees grow sparsely along the slopes, only growing taller when they are near the river's edge or in bogs. There are birch trees everywhere though they have suffered great damage caused by the Autumnal moth (Epirrita autumnata ).
There are also some exceptional wide open spaces, which have sparse spruce and birch trees dotting them. There are abundant amounts of juniper and all the growth spots which had been left open now sprouting spruce saplings. A feature characteristic of the Salla highlands are the types bare areas are usually only seen on fell peaks but are now on low lands. These patches even feature fell vegetation.
When descending from the rocky Värriötunturinmurusta Värriönlatva aapabog, with its duckboards, opens before your eyes. The trail leads through dense spruce forest with damp depressions to end at Härkätunturi open and reservable wilderness hut. The grand hut has room for even large groups and you can wash away the grime and dust from your hike in the sauna there.
Härkätunturi Fell - Tulppio 16 km
From Härkätunturi Fell the UKK Hiking Trail continues to Tulppio in Savukoski. Hikers can rest at Saijanojanlatva campfire site which is by the trail.
From Tulppio hikers can continue along the UKK Hiking Trail if they wish all the way to Nuortti Hiking Trail (12 km). The UKK Hiking Trail ends at Haukijärvenoja parking area, right where Nuortti Hiking Trail begins.