Malla Strict Nature Reserve is located in the beautiful Kilpisjärvi area. It offers incredible experiences in nature even on a short hike. The most famous sights of the Malla Strict Nature Reserve are the Three Nations’ Border Point, Kitsiputous Falls and Pikku-Malla fell. The Malla Trail passing through Malla nature area is part of the 800 km Nordkalott Trail.
Malla Strict Nature Reserve
Malla Strict Nature Reserve is Finland's oldest nature reserve, which was protected as early as 1916. Malla Nature Reserve and the Kilpisjärvi fells Malla (942 m / 3090 ft) and Saana (1029 m / 3376 ft) belong to the Scandinavian Mountain range. The fell area has arctic and alpine climate features, where very rare and threatened species grow.
The Three Nations’ Border Point is, as its name suggests, a large yellow border stone on the border of three countries, i.e., Finland, Sweden and Norway. It is the northernmost point of Sweden and the westernmost point of Finland, if Åland is not counted. The rare Lake Goldajärvi is also located on the border of the three nations, from which the water flows both into Lake Kilpisjärvi and into Lyngen Fjord on the Norwegian side.
In the area of the Malla Strict Nature Reserve, you can only move on marked paths and routes. Cycling is prohibited in the area. You are not allowed to take anything from nature, pile up stones or leave litter in nature.
Malla Strict Nature Reserve routes
The Malla Trail, from Malla parking area to the Three Nations’ Border Point is a hiking trail of about 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) in one direction. If done as a day trip, the Three Nations’ Border Point hike is therefore about 22 km (13.7 miles). The Malla Trail is part of the Nordkalott Trail, which goes all the way to Finland’s highest point, Halti.
Visiting Pikku-Malla fell along the Malla Trail will add 2.6 kilometers (1.6 miles). Just hiking the Pikku-Malla Trail from the parking lot to the top and back is about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles).
You can also explore the Three Nations’ Border Point by traveling on the Malla boat, either in both directions, or by hiking the Malla Trail either on the way out or on the return trip. From the pier in Koltalahti to the Three Nations’ Border Point, it is 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) in one direction.
When arriving by car, the Malla Strict Nature Reserve parking area can be found on the west side of Käsivarrentie road (E8) near the Malla Strict Nature Reserve. The parking lot is big, but in high season you may have to look for an empty space for a while.
The Malla boat operates between Kilpisjärvi and Koltalahti from the end of June until the end of September. Usually, the ice of Lake Kilpisjärvi melts by midsummer in June, but you should check the weather before heading to Kilpisjärvi area. The boat trip takes about half an hour in one direction.
The Malla boat does not run empty and does not have regular departure times from Koltalahti. If you want to combine a one-way boat trip and hiking, you should take the boat first and come back hiking. On a round trip, you have time to visit the Three Nations’ Border Point in two hours.
Overnight stays in the Malla Strict Nature Reserve
Overnight stays in the Malla Strict Nature Reserve are limited. Camping is not allowed anywhere except in the yard of Kuohkimajärvi wilderness huts. There is accommodation for 6 people at Kuohkimajärvi open wilderness hut and 10 people at Kuohkimajärvi rental hut. It is also forbidden to make a fire anywhere other than the Kuohkimajärvi hut campfire sites.
The Kilpisjärvi camping center at the foot of Saana fell offers site for caravans and a few tent spots, as well as apartments and cabins for accommodation. The camping center also has a good restaurant. In the lobby you can find e.g., a large map of the Malla Strict Nature Reserve and a small boutique for camping supplies and souvenirs (if you have forgot a compass or hiking socks, for example).
There are also other options for accommodation in Kilpisjärvi. And if you still have enough energy in your legs after a trip to Malla, you can hike to the shore of Lake Tsahkaljärvi and set up a camp.
Route description Malla Trail – Kitsiputous – Pikku-Malla
The hike starts from the Käsivarrentie road parking area. The distance from the parking area to Kitsiputous Falls is about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). In the parking area there is a map of the Malla Strict Nature Reserve and information about the area's nature.
A sandy path leads to a lush fell birch forest. The orange-tipped poles stand out well in the middle of the greenery. A sturdy wooden bridge takes you over the beautiful rapids of the roaring River Siilasjoki.
The trail meanders among the birch, sometimes going up gently, sometimes going down. As you rise above the trees, the Saana fell with its paths can be seen in the background. The sandy trail continues on the open fell highland. Bridges have been built over the streams.
After about two and a half kilometers of hiking, there is a large cracked boulder along the path. Next to the boulder there is a bench and a sign to the left to Pikku-Malla fell. It's nice to sit here to admire the scenery and meditate.
The trail becomes smoother and passes first the Lake Mallalammit and then the Lake Mallajávrit. A flat and wide path runs in the rolling fell landscape for a long distance before reaching the plateau on the roots of Malla fell, where there is a large pile of stones.
A small wartime dugout has been renovated on the slope. You can visit inside, there are old items such as rusted kitchen utensils. In the Kilpisjärvi area, war history still remains in the terrain in many places.
After the shelter, the rockiest part of the route follows. The rocky slope is steep, but you can easily cross it on a path that goes through large and flat stones. The roar of the waterfall can already be heard on the trail.
Kitsiputous, Gihcigorži in Sámi, is the longest series of waterfalls in Finland. The total length of the falls is 400 meters (1312 ft), and the height is a bold 118 meters (387 ft). Along with the Fiellu waterfall in the Kevo Strict Nature Reserve, Kitsiputous Falls is definitely one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Finland. Kitsiputous got its nickname Malla's Tears according to old fell stories.
At the end of July, you can cross the Kitsiputous or River Kitsijoki relatively easily along the rocks without getting your shoes wet. In June, there can still be a lot of snow in the fells, and in Kitsiputous there may be so much water that it is not possible to cross the stream. Just at River Kitsijoki, the trail disappears into the rocks, but the orange spots can be found again on the other side of the stream.
You should also stay only on the marked route around Kitsiputous Falls. So, you shouldn’t go under the waterfall and especially on top of it. There are, however, many smooth rocks along the trail, where you can sit down to enjoy lunch in an incredibly beautiful landscape.
The distance from Kitsiputous Falls to the top of Pikku-Malla fell and from the top back to the parking lot is about 8 kilometers (5 miles).
The trail to the top of Pikku-Malla starts along the Malla Trail, about 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) from the parking lot. A good landmark is a large cracked boulder, and the signpost nearby. From the intersection, the trail begins to climb gently upwards.
The trail can be wet and muddy in places, but usually there is some rocks or a drier place underfoot. A gentle ascent is quick and easy. Only closer to the top the slope becomes somewhat steeper. The height of Pikku-Malla 738 meters (2421 ft) above sea level.
From the top of Pikku-Malla, great panoramic views open out to Saana fell and Kilpisjärvi. From the flat top you can also see the snow-capped mountains on the Norwegian side. At the top, it can be incredibly windy.
From the Malla Strict Nature Reserve parking lot to Kitsiputous Falls and from the waterfall to Pikku-Malla and back to the parking area, the hike was about 13.5 kilometers (8.4 miles). The duration of the hike was less than five hours, walking leisurely, taking photos, admiring the scenery and making lunch.
Although a short hike can already offer wonderful scenery, the area also has great opportunities for longer backpacking adventures. From Malla you can go to the Norwegian side to Barras and Gappohytta and to Sweden to Pältsa. And of course, on the other side of the road, the wonderful landscapes of the Käsivarsi wilderness and Halti await the adventurous soul!
Malla Strict Nature Reserve
- Destination: Kilpisjärvi, Lapland, Finland
- Distance: Malla Trail 11 km (6.8 miles), Kitsiputous Falls 5.5 km (3.4 miles), Pikku-Malla 3.5 km (2.2 miles) (one way)
- Difficulty: Basic fitness (Kitsiputous and Pikku-Malla Trails)
- When to go: End of June to end of September (year-round destination)
- Where to stay: Accommodation in Kuohkimajärvi open wilderness or rental huts or tenting at hut yard, Kilpisjärvi offers various accommodation (you are not allowed to stay overnight in the Lappish huts)