In Kuusamo, you find yourself in a genuine, natural environment. The rugged rocks, foaming rapids and smooth waters are all forces of nature, which - when standing by tumbling rapids - overwhelm you. South of Lapland Kuusamo is the only region where height differences of the terrain can be over 200 metres. There are about 20 hill tops with the elevation higher than 300 m above sea level and the tops of the fells of Valtavaara, Iivaara, Rukatunturi, Konttainen, Kuntivaara and Pyhävaara reach up to ca 50 m. In the areas around Ruka-Valtavaara and Iivaara the contours of the landscape are the most varied. The lowest area is that the Eastern part of the Oulanka river valley where the river flows only 135 m above sea level.
The Land of National Parks
Oulanka National Park
Karhunkierros in Oulanka National Park is the most famous hiking route in Finland and was nominated the Hiking Route of the Year 2014. There are also lots of other shorter hiking trails in Oulanka National Park, including Könkään keino and Kanjonin kurkkaus. The most magnificent nature sights of Kuusamo are located in the park, along with rare birds and plants.
Oulanka National Park is located on the boarder of Kuusamo and Salla counties. It was founded in 1956. The park is 290 km2 large and receives about 200 000 visitors each year. It has a sister park Paanajärvi National Park on the other side of the boarder in Russia. The professional staff of Oulanka Visitor Centre is happy to help you out with any questions.
Ruka consists of four peaks that have given their names of the four slope areas: Pessari, Saarua, Ruka (Frontside slopes and Vuosseli) and Masto. There are two year round routes in Masto area - the route for disabled and Juhannuskallio route/snowshoe trail. The starting point of these routes can be accessed by car. Otherwise in the winter the peaks of Ruka Ski Resort can accessed by ski lift only (with a valid ski pass and downhill ski/snowboarding gear).
Hiking routes on Ruka area
There are several marked summer hiking routes in Ruka area: Ruka round route as well as Rukatunturi, Salmilamminkylä, Valkeisenvaara, Kalliolampi and Kivilampi routes. All except Rukatunturi route function as ski tracks during winter. The peak of Ruka can be accesse by the scenery lift during June-September and one can either hike down or take the speedy summer sled track all the way down to Ruka village.
Valtavaara, Konttainen and Pyhävaara
You can access the peak of Valtavaara along the route "Valtavaaran huiputus". Or you can carry on past Valtavaara to Konttainen along Karhunkierros route (8 km from Ruka to Konttainen). Konttainen can be reached via a shorter route by car: park along Virkkulantie road and take the 1 km hike up to the top of Konttainen. There's also a shorter route neaby Konttainen called Sinipyrstön Pyrähys (1,5 km). The north-west walls of Valtavaara and Konttainen are popular among freeskiers. Please remember snow safety when moving in these areas.
Pyhävaara can be reached by skis along Pyhävaara ski trail or by foot on summer and by snowshoes on winter along Pyhän Jyssäys route.
Iivaara is the third highest peak in Kuusamo (470 m). It's surrounded by lakes on almost all directions. The summit is treeless, and there the very special kind of mineral called "ijolite" shows on the surface. The fell is the only place in Finland where this mineral is found.
In a peace treaty in 1595 after a war between Russia and Sweden the felltop was agreed to mark the border between the two countries. On a clear day, you can see across to the hills and forests of Russia. The peak of Iivaara can be accessed along the Iirinki hiking trail (9 km); start and ending point is located at Iivaara Eräkartano.