Starting Points for Trails
Visitors can reach National Park's marked trails at Saariselkä Fell Centre, Kiilopää Fell Centre and Sompiojärvi as well as Kemihaara and Haukiniva (Nuorttijoki) parking areas. For shorter trails (1-7 km) is Tankavaara also a good starting point.
Tankavaara's nature trails begin at Tankavaara parking area.
- Urpiainen Trail, 1 km winds around the nearby grounds. The gravelled path is accessible by wheelchair and pram.
- Koppelo Trail, 3 km goes further into the quiet spruce forest.
- Kuukkeli Trail, 6 km rises through the spruce forest to Pikku-Tankavaara hill, which has a magnificent view of Nattastunturi Fells, the surrounding aapa bogs and the great fells of Saariselkä. The return route is through mire.
- Geological Trail, 7 km, features the area's geology, the area's bedrock, the traces left in the area by the ice age as well as changes in surface formations. The beginning of the trail leads through forest landscape and climbs gradually to the slope of Jorpulipää. There is a rest spot on the shore of the beautiful Lake Koiranjuomalampi. From there the trail leads to a hanging bog. The rest of the route follows Kuukkeli Circle Trail. The trail is circled clockwise.
- Visitors learn about winter ecology and the crown snow load on the 1-km-long winter nature trail. The 3 km long Koppelo Circle Trail and 6 km long Kuukkeli Circle Trail are both marked as snowshoeing trails.
- Services: There are a campfire site and Lapp pole tent by the Koppelo and Kuukkeli trails. Packed meals can be eaten there in the company of a fearless Siberian jay.
- In the Saariselkä - Kiilopää region there are 200 km of marked hiking trails of which 100 km are in the national park. There is a summer hiking map (www.saariselka.com) with all the trails shown on it. The trails are also marked on the outdoor maps.
- Kemihaara - Korvatunturinmurusta Trail, 18 km. There is a marked hiking trail from Kemihaara to Korvatunturimurusta. The trail begins at Kemihaara (about 100 km from Savukoski), crosses the River Kemihaara before working its way through spruce forests and aapa bogs and then onto dry pine heath. At the end of a reindeer fence hikers arrive at Vieriharju open wilderness hut. The trail continues along low heaths and through aapa bogs to Korvatunturinmurusta. The Korvatunturi Trail is a tourist service trail, which means that permits allowing, ski-expeditions can be arranged there.
- Services: There is one campfire site on the trail and one at Murusta. An open wilderness hut can be found on the trail at Vieriharju.
- Sights: There is a Peace Pole at Murusta, which was erected as a symbol of world peace.
- Nuortti Hiking Trail, 40 km. The River Nuorttijoki in the south-eastern corner of Urho Kekkonen National Park attracts hikers and fishers with grand views. A 40-kilometre circular hiking trail runs along both shores of river. A good place to start a hike is at the Haukiniva parking area (about 100 km from Savukoski), where hikers will find an information point in a shelter. More information.
- The Ruijanpolku Trail (35 km) runs in the Sompio Strict Nature Reserve and Urho Kekkonen National Park. The Ruijanpolku Trail is part of an ancient route named Ruijanreitti, which formerly ran from the Bothnian Bay, across the Saariselkä fell area and all the way to Finnmark (Ruija) by the Arctic Ocean. A part of trail was restored to become a hiking trail and marked in the terrain. Ruijanpolku trail is a summer trail, read more about Ruijanpolku trail.
Old Roads and Tracks
There are no marked routes in the park's wilderness areas, but there are some well-established trails along the most popular hiking routes and particularly on the stretches in between the huts. You might also come across some deer trails in the area that don't lead anywhere. Even though there are no restrictions on where you can go in the national park, it is recommended that you use the existing trails. Be sure to bring a map and compass with you and know how to use them. In the wild, GPS alone is not necessarily enough to keep you from losing your way.
The more common starting points for hiking are Saariselkä and Kiilopää, and Aittajärvi and Raja-Jooseppi in the northern part of the park. You may also begin at Orponen (Vuotso), Kemihaara, Marivaara on the north side of the Lokka Reservoir, and Haukiniva on the Nuorttijoki River.
Most of the unmarked hiking routes in the national park are of average difficulty in terms of terrain conditions. One of the most popular routes is: Kiilopää - Suomuruoktu - Tuiskukuru - Luirojärvi - Lankojärvi - Kiilopää, which is 70 to 80 kilometres long.
Cross-country Skiing Trails
Skiing Trail Network in the Basic Zone
Around Saariselkä, Laanila, Kiilopää and Kakslauttanen there is a network of 250 kilometres of maintained skiing trails. The trails are maintained by Saariselän Latuhuolto ry., which is a joint venture of local tourist service enterprises. Marked and maintained skiing trails are limited to the areas around the Saariselkä and Kiilopää Fell Centre in the main sector of the park. The trails are marked with wooden crosses. Also they are marked with the singns of different colours, which are telling their level of difficulty: a blue line means the trail is easy, red is intermediate and black is difficult.
The first trails to be opened every autumn are the lit skiing trails (about 25 km), which lead outside of National Park borders to Laanila, Kiilopää and Kakslauttanen. As more snow falls the trails which lead to the fells in the main sector of the park are opened. The last trails to open in the spring are: Vellinsärpimä - Taajoslaavu and Rautulampi and Kulmakuru, which lies outside the national park.
Most of the skiing trails are suited for classical skiing and freestyle skiing. There are several day trip huts along marked skiing trails. Trails are maintained on a daily basis during ski season, but skiers should take into consideration that trails in the fells get covered with snow very quickly because of high winds.
There are trail maps (www.saariselka.com) available and maps also include the difficulty of the trail. Hiking maps can also be used as a skiing trail map.
Go Ski Trekking
The winter brings its own challenges to wilderness hikes. If you want to ski outside the marked trails, your skis should be broad hiking or forest skis. Winter hiking is only recommended for experienced hikers and groups should have at least one experienced member with them. You will need to use a map and compass for navigation, so you need to be skilled in using them. In the wild, GPS alone is not necessarily enough to keep you from losing your way. The national park's huts are about a day's journey apart from one another and it is recommended that you use them, especially in winter conditions. Make reservations for the reservable huts and turf huts well in advance to guarantee that you have a place to stay.
Cycling on summertime is permitted only on the marked trails and also on the following routes: Kakslauttanen-Kopsusjärvi, Niilanpää-Suomunruoktu, Raja-Jooseppi-Anterinmukka, Kemihaara-Peskihaara-Keskipakat, Kemihaara-Mantoselkä, Kemihaara-Rakitsat. Cycling on winter is allowed all over except on skiingtracks.
Check the summertime biking trails and additional information from Saariselkä Mountain Biking Guide.