Trail Running in Lapland: Saana Trails

Trail Running in Lapland: Saana Trails

The steep Saana fell may seem like a challenge, but the trails are quite easy and they are also marked. On this tour you can admire pure Finnish wilderness, lush mountain birch forests, and beautiful lakes and streams. From the summit of Saana there's a spectacular panoramic view to all directions.

Saana fell in Kilpisjärvi Lapland is one of the highest and most popular fells in Finland. It is located in Käsivarsi area in Enontekiö region. There are two great trails: The Saana Summit Trail and the Saana Circle Trail.

Go around the mighty Saana fell and visit the summit at sunset. The steep Saana fell may seem like a challenge, but the trails are quite easy and they are also marked. On this tour you can admire pure Finnish wilderness, lush mountain birch forests, and beautiful lakes and streams. From the summit of Saana there's a spectacular panoramic view to all directions.

Saana fell (Sáná)

The highest point reaches 1029 m above sea level, with 556 m elevation from Kilpisjärvi. Kilpisjärvi area consists of both old Finnish bedrock and geologically young Scandinavian Mountains’ bedrock, and the area has both alpine and arctic climate characteristics. The nature, fauna, flora and climate here is unique in Finland. The weather can change very quickly and you should be prepared for all kinds of temperatures, rain and fog.

At the summit of Saana fell there's a telecommunications tower, which may not beautify nature but it guarantees mobile network in the area. You can put your pics to IG straight from the summit if you don't feel like fully focusing on the nature experience.

Saana fell, Sáná in Sami, is a holy fell for the Sami people. There are wonderful stories about giants and tears of maiden Malla that come alive when wandering on the rugged and windy slopes of Saana.

Summitting Saana fell is a great day trip, if you are staying in Kilpisjärvi and hiking the long Halti Trail as well!

Starting points for Saana Circle Trail

You can take the tour around Saana either clockwise or counterclockwise. There are also several starting points. If you want to admire a spectacular sunset from the top of Saana, take the summit trail at the end of the day and start your tour from Kilpisjärvi Holiday Village & Camping. Head towards Lake Tsahkaljärvi to get on the loop trail. The trail head is on the right corner of the RV parking area. The Saana summit trail starts from the opposite corner on the left.

Kilpisjärvi Holiday Village & Camping offers free parking for six hours for their customers. It's just enough to trail run the loop trail and summit Saana, as well as have some coffee before of after the round.

The other starting point is from the new Saana Lappish hut by the Nordkalott Trail. It's located a couple of kilometers from Malla Strict Nature Reserve's parking area, where you can leave your car for free. It's around one kilometer from the Lappish hut to reach the Saana circle trail. Then a third starting point is the Visitor Centre's parking area. From there you need to go first to Lake Tsahkaljärvi and from there to the loop trail, which adds a few kilometers to the tour. There are good signposts on the trails, and getting lost is unlikely.

If you only run the circle trail, it's around 14 kilometers.

Is it allowed to camp at Saana fell?

The Southern and South-West parts of Saana fell belong to protection area. Camping there is prohibited, and you should also stay strictly on the marked trail. It's a good idea to stay only on the marked trails on the whole fell area, in order to avoid any damage to the fragile and unique vegetation. If you want to admire Saana fell from your tent, pitch your tent for example on the shore of Lake Tsahkaljärvi.

The Saana Circle Trail

The Saana ring route is marked with poles painted with orange. If you start from the Holiday & Camping resort, the trail goes first in a dense and lush mountain birch forest. It is quite smooth and without much variation in elevation, but it can be muddy and wet sometimes. The area is protected, and you should keep strictly on the trail to avoid damaging the nature. When you pass the treeline and look back, you can see the snowy tops of the mountains in Norway.

During the whole round from South to the Northern shore of Lake Saanajärvi you can admire the steep cliff of Saana fell. Trail running is easy at this part of the trail. Before the crossroads of Lake Tsahkaljärvi trail and near Saanajärvenlompolo you can find a wooden bench to take a break and watch the scenery. Iso-Jehkas fell behind Lake Saanajärvi is also beautiful.

When you arrive at Lake Saanajärvi, the trail becomes more rocky. By the Southern shore of Lake Saanajärvi there's a trail leading to Lappish hut with dry toilet and wood shelter. The aurora borealis hut allows you to watch the never ending art of the Nordic sky. The day hut (still on some maps) on the northern shore has been removed. If you trail run in the late evening, the Lake Saanajärvi side is in the shadows of the fell. The temperature may drop suddenly.

After going around the lake, the trail then continues first to the right and up to a nameless lake, before it turns to the left again towards Saana fell. There are some rocky streams you need to cross. Your shoes don't get wet if it's a low or normal water level, but expect more water if it's a high water level season. If you continue straight to the summit, here's the last opportunity to fill up your water bottles.

The trail runs in rugged fell scenery and ascends moderately towards the summit trail. You may see many reindeers down on the slopes. The summit trail starts from the signpost with markings to Malla Strict Nature Reserve and Saana Nature Trail.

Saana Summit Trail

The route to the summit of Saana fell has been renewed some time ago. The steepest part is already in the beginning. A long slope is power hiked on granite stairs. If you enjoyed silence during the loop trail, here you'll see probably quite a few other outdoor fans. Tens of thousands of people visit Saana fell every year! At the end of the stairs you'll find some benches and great views to Norway and Sweden.

After two steep kilometers the ascend becomes moderate and you can switch from power hiking to trail running again. The smooth trail continues all the way to the link tower and the pile of stones marking the highest point. There's a small but fine Finnish flag on the top of the pile, and there should also be a book where you can write your name. If it's a great sunset or otherwise great weather, you should reserve some time to admire the views from the top. (Actually, it's not recommended to go to the summit trail on bad weather, especially if there's a thunder warning.) The panoramic view reaches all directions, but the snowy mountains of Norway may be the most majestic. On the wilderness area side you can see mysterious stone circles. On some slopes there are even remnants of old military crap. And finally, on the Lake Tsahkaljärvi side you can descend to a beautiful spot to take a break as well.

The Saana summit trail from Malla Strict Nature Reserve or the Holiday Villages & Camping resort is around five kilometers.

The new Saana Lappish hut

In the end of August, the white nights are already gone, but you can still admire the sunset until the last rays, as there's still plenty of light for descending. If your water bottles are empty or you need a toilet, you can visit the new Lappish hut of Saana (near Malla Strict Nature Reserve). There's a fireplace for late evening snacks and a dry toilet. Overnight stays in the huts are not allowed. There are some streams nearby, but walk a bit further from the toilets and the area where people are tenting. Remember to pack your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. And you should also carry all your waste away from nature.

The rest of the trip goes fast on duckboards and on a firm trail all the way to the Holiday Villages & Camping resort. The trail runs through a dense mountain birch forest, and if you are lucky, you may see tens of reindeers running among the trees. Sometimes they stand in the middle of the trail too.

The whole tour starting from the resort, running around Saana fell and summitting the fell, and visiting the new Lappish hut is approximately 21 kilometers. It's probably a bit less if you don't forget your stuff on the top of the fell and run some of the top trail twice.

PS. An awesome tip: do a peaceful pilgrimage trail run in the beautiful fell scenery. The Saana Circle Trail and Saana Summit Trail are also perfect for hiking!


Map of Saana fell (Karttapaikka) – Kilpisjärvi trails
Kilpisjärvi Holiday Villages & Camping

Saana Summit Trail & Saana Circle Trail

  • Destination: Kilpisjärvi, Lapland, Finland
  • Distance: Saana summit Trail 4.3 km / 2.67 miles (one direction), Saana Circle Trail 14 km / 8.7 miles
  • Difficulty: basic fitness
  • When to go: From June to September
  • Where to stay: camping (check the destrictions), accommodation services in the area, no overnight stays in the Lappish huts

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