What are the best and longest hiking trails in Finland? Although southern Finland also offers beautiful landscapes, all the top five long-distance hikes are located in northern latitudes. On these multi-day hikes you will find unique nature, the most picturesque landscapes, the highest peak in our country and the cleanest air in the world.
All these hiking trails are perfect for solo hiking, and some of the trails are also suitable for your first long-distance hike. Pack your backpack and head towards the best nature experiences in Finland!
1. Karhunkierros Bear’s Trail 82 km (51 miles) – the most popular hiking trail in Finland
The classic of all hikes and the most popular hike in Finland is the legendary 82-kilometer (51 miles) Karhunkierros Bear’s Trail, which starts from Salla's Hautajärvi in Lapland and ends in Ruka in Kuusamo. Karhunkierros takes you to Oulanka National Park to the most scenic viewpoints, lush forests and roaring rapids.
While hiking on Karhunkierros Bear’s Trail, you end up also to the most popular short or day hiking destination in Finland, Pieni Karhunkierros Trail (Small Bear’s Trail), which you can walk around from the south or north side (you can even go around the whole circuit). Along the 12-kilometer ring route, you can see numerous beautiful and famous sights.
As a counterbalance to the many viewpoints, Karhunkierros Bear’s Trail also has quite a lot of ordinary forest paths, which may even seem a bit boring if you long for 'incredibly beautiful scenery' behind every rock or hill. But if you like the forest, Karhunkierros is a great experience.
The Karhunkierros Trail is really suitable for a first long-distance hike and you will also enjoy solo hiking on Karhunkierros. On a popular hiking route, you may find help and company relatively quickly if needed, and it is not very easy to get lost on a well-marked route. You can also leave the hike at several points.
- Karhunkierros: 82 km (51 miles) from Hautajärvi in Salla Lapland to Ruka in Kuusamo
- Good to know: The best hiking season for Karhunkierros starts at the end of May and lasts until October. At the end of June, you can admire bright nights and fragrant flowers. The kilometer-signposts tell you the distance all the time.
- The most beautiful sights of Karhunkierros: Rupakivi stone, River Oulankajoki, Pähkänäkallio cliff and Venäänmutka river meander, Ristikallio cliff, Kiutaköngäs rapids, Canyon, Harrisuvanto suspension bridges, Myllykoski, Kallioportti, Aallokkoski, Jyrävä falls, Konttainen hill and Valtavaara hill.
Karhunkierros is on every hiker's bucket list - experience it at least once in your life!
See also: Hiking the 82 km Bear’s Trail
2. Hetta-Pallas Trail 50 km (31 miles)
The approximately 50-kilometer (31 miles) long Hetta-Pallas hiking trail is the most popular long hiking trail in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. The oldest hiking trail in Finland runs from the peaks of the fell chains down to the gorges and back to the peaks to open and picturesque landscapes. The best thing about Hetta-Pallas is the fell landscape that continues far into the horizon.
The best hiking season in Hetta-Pallas starts after mid-June and continues until the end of September. On a hike in September, you hardly see the autumn colors of the trees on the treeless fell highlands, but the ground shines all the more brightly in glowing red. The route is marked with beautiful wooden arrow signs.
On the Hetta-Pallas route, you can only spend the night near huts and campfire sites in the recreation zone (check on the map), but you can camp freely outside the recreation zone in the wilderness zone. There is a paid sauna in Hannukuru, where you can enjoy relaxing steam in the wilderness.
Just like Karhunkierros Bear’s Trail, Hetta-Pallas is well suited for solo hikers and those who are going on a long-distance hike for the first time. Hetta-Pallas is classified as demanding, but the route is a fairly easy trail throughout, and there is no need to cross any rivers. Of course, you need basic fitness to climb and descend the long slopes of the fells.
At the end of the Hetta-Pallas trail, at Pallas, a long rocky slope rises to the highest point of the hiking trail, from where you can reach Taivaskero fell summit, the highest peak of the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. The Pallastunturi landscape is one of Finland's national landscapes.
- Hetta-Pallas hike: 50 km (31 miles) from Hetta village Enontekiö to the Pallas Visitor Centre
- Good to know: Lake Ounasjärvi is crossed in Hetta with a paid boat transport. You can also get car transfer services from entrepreneurs in the area. The Hetta-Pallas trail is one of the latest popular hiking trails to have trash cans removed.
- The best sights: Taivaskero (1952 Olympics commemorative plaque), Pahakuru gorge, Hannukuru wilderness sauna, Montellinmaja hut and all the scenery from the top of the fells. Orava Avenue and Pallaskota, Lake Keimiöjärvi and Keimiötunturi fell, as well as Lake Pallasjärvi and Punainenhiekka day hut are also nearby.
According to research, you can breathe the cleanest air in the world here - you can really feel it while hiking!
3. Kevo Trail – Kevo Canyon Hike 63 km (39 miles)
In Kevo Strict Nature Reserve you can see the most majestic nature of Lapland. The nature park is divided by a rugged gorge valley almost 40 kilometers long and up to 80 meters deep, at the bottom of which flows the beautiful River Kevojoki. You can admire the Kevo canyon by hiking the Kevo Trail from Sulaoja to Lake Kenesjärvi or vice versa, and by hiking the longer Kuivi Trail.
The wonderful 63-kilometer-long Kevo Trail runs through the gorge valley area, descending many times to the bottom of the canyon and rising back up to the open fell plateau. Along the way, you will see several waterfalls, the most famous of which is the beautifully sculpted Fiellu waterfall. The Kevo Trail is like a painting from a fairy tale during the autumn season in September.
The landscapes of Kevo (at least during autumn) are perhaps the most spectacular of all the hikes I have chosen. The views of River Kevojoki along the way alone look great, but the Kevo canyon is downright magically beautiful. Standing by the canyon, you just wonder how something like this can even exist.
Various restrictions apply to the gorge area and fell area of Kevo Nature Park. You may not walk in the gorge area from the beginning of April to mid-June, you may hike on marked trails from mid-June to mid-October. In the fell area, you can walk on marked paths from the beginning of May to the middle of October.
The Kevo Trail is demanding because of the differences in elevation and crossing numerous water bodies. The hiking trail has a lot of steep and long stairs that require good fitness to climb. You are not allowed to wander into the wilderness from the marked route, so you cannot get lost on the Kevo Trail. Kevo is very suitable for solo hiking, but you should not go hiking without prior experience.
- Kevo Trail: 63 km (39 miles) Kevo Canyon hike
- Good to know: The rules of the Kevo Strict Nature Area (LINKKI) are stricter than on other hiking trails, read them carefully before hiking. Crossing the watercourses is relatively easy, as the waders have cables and hand loops. Taking the route from Sulaoja to Kenesjärvi is clearly more popular, and there are always fewer loops on the riverbank on the Sulaoja side. If you are going from Kenesjärvi to Sulaoja, take a couple of extra ropes with you to the opposite shore.
- Accommodation: There are no wilderness or reservation huts on Kevo, and during the hike you can only stay overnight at marked tent sites. Although there are several tent sites, pacing the hike according to them is a bit tedious, especially during the high season, when the popular sites fill up quickly.
Although Kevo's route is not filled with individual sights in the same way as, for example, Karhunkierros, Kevo Trail is one amazing landscape from start to finish. I award the Kevo canyon hike as "The most beautiful hike in Finland".
4. Halti hike 110 km (68 miles) – The Nordkalott Trail
The most demanding of the long-distance hiking trails is the Halti hike to the highest point in Finland in the Käsivarsi wilderness area. The most popular hiking route from Kilpisjärvi to Halti is the Nordkalott Trail. The distance from Kilpisjärvi to Halti is approximately 55 km (34 miles) one way.
In the wilderness of Käsivarsi, you can experience a unique and fragile fell nature that cannot be found anywhere else in Finland. The landscape is dominated by rugged fells and magnificent valleys between fells. On the Halti hike, you can find clear Lapland brooks and wonderful waterfalls, such as Pihtsusköngäs, called the Niagara of Finland.
Halti's hike is demanding due to the area's wilderness and water crossings. Bridges have been built over the big rivers, but the route also includes wading in the streams, where the water may rise high. The Nordkalott Trail is marked and there are several wilderness and reservation huts along it. You can camp anywhere in the wilderness.
Along Halti's hike, there are many great big fells to conquer. However, the trip to Halti and back to Kilpisjärvi is already long even without extra excursions, so I recommend reserving extra days for peaks.
The Halti hike is suitable only for experienced hikers, experienced solo hikers too. In the open fell area, the weather conditions can change suddenly, and you can't get help quickly in the wilderness.
- Halti hike: 110 km (68 miles) on the Nordkalott Trail
- Good to know: The Nordkalott Trail starts from the Kilpisjärvi Visitor Centre’s parking area and passes by the beautiful Lake Tsahkaljärvi. The beach of Tsahkaljärvi with a view of Saana fell is a popular area for camping. In the wilderness area, the tent can be set up anywhere.
- Sights: Finland's highest fell Halti and its peak Háldičohkka (1324 m) on the border of Finland and Norway, Saana fell, Lake Tsahkaljärvi, Lake Meekonjärvi and Meekonlaakso valley, Pihtsusköngäs falls and Saivaara fell.
Although the Nordkalott Trail is a popular route to Halti, in the wilderness of Käsivarsi you should also take your own trails – just look at the map to find amazing destinations!
5. Lake Luirojärvi Trail 80 km (50 miles)
Urho Kekkonen National Park is one of Finland's finest nature destinations and the second largest of our national parks in Eastern Lapland. The Lake Luirojärvi hike is the most popular of the long-distance wilderness hiking trails in the national park, and no wonder: the route runs through wonderful, varied landscapes and leads hikers to Lake Luirojärvi's famous sauna and Luirojärvi's 'Hilton' cabin.
The nature of the UKK park is dominated by large and rugged forests, clear-water lakes and rivers, and open fell areas, from which incredibly beautiful landscapes open up to the surrounding wilderness. Rising in the middle of the national park and hiking trail, Sokosti, east of Lake Luirojärvi, is the highest fell in Eastern Lapland. On the Lake Luirojärvi hike, it is popular to stay overnight at Luirojärvi and take a day trip to the top of Sokosti.
The Lake Luirojärvi hike is a wilderness ring route that can be taken all year round. The route is not marked on the terrain, but clear paths lead from hut to hut. The Lake Luirojärvi hike is perfect for solo hikes, but due to the unmarked route and (easy) water crossings, it's good to have some experience before starting the hike.
The Lake Luirojärvi hiking trail has a comprehensive network of open wilderness and reservation huts, as well as atmospheric lean-to shelters. In addition to tenting, Urho Kekkonen National Park is well suited for hammocking, as there is plenty of forest.
- Lake Luirojärvi hike: 80 km (50 miles) ring route from Kiilopää
- Good to know: There are many trails in the area, and you can take a longer route to Lake Luirojärvi if you want to see more of the park.
- The best attractions: Kiilopää fell, Sokosti fell, Paratiisikuru gorge, Niilanpää reindeer cabin, Lake Luirojärvi and Luirojärvi sauna and cabin, Ukselmapää fell, Kotaköngäs rapids and Raappana's kammi ‘hut’.
The Lake Luirojärvi Trail in September is perhaps "The best autumn hike in Finland"!
Tips for long-distance hiking trails in Finland
- On all hiking routes, with the exception of the Kevo Trail, you can stay in open wilderness and reservation huts. There may not be enough space for all those who want it in the most crowded seasons.
- Take care of the unique nature and walk on prepared paths. Give also other hikers a great nature experience and leave the boombox at home.
- Hiking trails are litter-free destinations - take out of nature everything that doesn't belong there. Check the fire warnings, weather forecast and other announcements before you go hiking.
- Fishing and hiking go together like crepes and strawberry jam. Check permit fees and restrictions at eraluvat.fi and kalastusrajoitus.fi (in Finnish / Swedish).
- On all long hiking trails, it is good to know the basic skills of hiking: weather-appropriate clothing, cooking while hiking, suitable accommodation, navigation and map reading, and first aid skills.
Have a wonderful hiking season!