Hiking through the wilderness of Lapland isn’t just for seasoned pros! Here’s our tips on how to prepare and enjoy your walk through the woods, even if you’re a first-timer.
Sometimes we take it for granted that we have so much wilderness in Lapland. It’s so integrated into the everyday life of so many people, and in our culture, that it’s easy to forget that not every country has vast forests, sweeping fell vistas and endless marshes. So, we’ve put together a guide for beginners, for those who want to experience true wilderness but might feel overwhelmed at the thought of hiking through the Arctic.
Lapland is bigger than the country of Portugal. No need to tackle the longest hardest trails first. You can find trails that require less than an hour of your time, with few steep climbs or tricky terrain. Here are a few trails to ease you into the forest life.
Smaller hikes usually don’t require special boots or gear, but you should always check before heading into the wilderness. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and pants, and a hat. And it’s never a bad idea to carry along a bottle of water and a snack.
Maybe it’s the exertion of climbing fells or the fresh air that carries hints of pine and campfire smoke, but something makes food just taste better when you’re outdoors. The Luosto Nature Hiking Trail is 14.5 km (9 miles) long, and it’ll probably take up your whole day. So remember to tuck some goodies in your backpack–sandwiches, dried fruits, veggie dogs–and enjoy either of the trails campfire sites. Kick back, roast your sausages and enjoy the summer ambiance. Campfire sites and day huts are the norm in Lapland, scattered across nature trails and national parks, making it easy to rest and recharge before tackling the next fell or forest path.
I want to suck your blood! Blah!
No, you don’t have to worry about Transylvanian vampires perched in our pine trees. Here, we have another breed of bloodsuckers: mosquitoes. And if you’re unprepared … best not to think about that. In addition to wearing sleeves and pants, you can get a netted mosquito hat just about anywhere. Sprays and oils are also a handy way to keep the bugs away, as are portable electronic mosquito repellents.
Midnight Sun Hike
A day-hike is one thing, but what about a Nightless Night-hike? The air smells different, and there’s a hint of mysticism in the light that filters through the leaves. The animals that chirp and buzz and squawk have an urgency about them that you don’t get during the Midday Sun. When you finally break free of the treeline and climb the stony path the felltop, the view of Pallastunturi under the Midnight Sun is one you’ll not soon forget.
Don’t forget your camera
Amazing images like the ones below will keep your forest memories alive. Make sure you bring your camera, batteries and power banks—it’s probably a few kilometers to the nearest power outlet.
Leave it as you found it
If you’re not from Scandinavia (or a few other rare places), you might not have heard of Everyman’s Right. What it means is that you have the right to wander freely through most land in Lapland, no matter your nationality, as long as you leave minimal traces. Of course there are exceptions, rules, responsibilities, but once you’ve learned the basics, you’re free to enjoy the forests, the fells, the lakes and rivers … just about anywhere.
We’re talking Siberian Jays that land on your wrist to pick the seeds out of your hands while wandering through the vast forest in Salla. We’re talking foxes darting through the undergrowth in Iso-Syöte, elf-eared squirrels chattering from the trees in Posio. We’re talking bears … from a safe distance, of course, in the forests of Ruka. You can’t have wilderness without wild, and the animals in Lapland are wild.
Lapland has the Lemmenjoki, Urho Kekkonen and Pallas-Yllästunturi National Parks, the three largest in the country. National parks in Finland are the perfect way for a beginner to explore what a real forest is. Pallas-Yllästunturi has trails that will take a couple hours or trails that will test your limits of survival … your choice. Urho Kekkonen has ancient fells that rise up out of the trees like gentle giants. And Lemmenjoki is the largest national park of all, grand forests and placid rivers under the watchful eyes of the stony fells.
And if that isn’t enough, Lapland is home to 4 more of the top 10 largest national parks in Finland.
Enjoy the sounds … and silence of Lapland
Last but not least, remember to enjoy yourself. Close your eyes and let the wild ambience carry you back to a time before electric cars, smartphones, Internet lunch delivery service. Your mind and body will relish the silence at first, and then you’ll notice that the world is a soft cacophony of rustling leaves, distant waters, birdsong and buzzing bumblebees. The sound of Lapland will remind you why you came to the forest in the first place.