Ruka-Kuusamo’s nature and the wildly flowing rivers call for extreme adventurers, but there also adventures for the entire family, where both toddlers and disabled visitors are welcome to explore.
Summer holiday with a toddler
Nature holidays are perfectly successful with small children too.
The dells of grass and brush allow children to safely explore among the tussock cottongrass. The clouds above the fell feel like they are a hand's reach away and the roads that wind around far below look like snakes with ants marching on them.
The summery choir of birds that is set to pace by the cooing solos fills the surroundings. Reindeer can be seen here and there, relaxing on their daytime walk with their lanky calves. On a warm day, you may come about tens, or even hundreds, of reindeer.
At the end of the summer, it is worth taking a bucket with you on your trek, and gather some golden-yellow cloudberries, fat blueberries and dark red lingonberries, which will provide a vitamin bomb for the winter. As summer comes to an end, the autumn brings out bolete, milk-cap and gill mushrooms, which may also be gathered.
The wide and smooth trails are suitable for pushchairs and even small feet can manage to take small trips. You can easily reach the peak of Rukatunturi by first driving to the top of the fell and the taking the Rukatunturi Accessible Trail which starts at Chalet Ruka Peak. This extremely wide and easily accessible trail, which is only a kilometre long, takes you to amazing views and is also accessible to wheelchair users.
Sitting by the camp fire and gazing at the flames is calming, almost a meditative past-time. Large, soft marshmallows can be toasted over the fire on the end of a stick, which children will happily enjoy as a crispy treat. At the centre of the village of Ruka, below the slopes, is the easiest accessible camp fire location.
If you are looking for a more quiet place for snacks, it is worth travelling a couple of kilometres towards Kuusamo by car; at the Ruka Salonki intersection, the road turning in the opposite direction takes you to Kivilampi trail, which leads to a brand-new lean on top of the hill, above Kivilampi pond. The wide and level gravel-surfaced path is easy to walk with a pushchair, and it is only a few hundred metres to the camp fire location.
You can even climb to the top of Pyhävaara with a toddler in a back carrier, by taking the Pyhän Jyssäys trail. All in all, the trail will take six kilometres, but you can gather your strength at the top of Pikku-Pyhävaara together with a camp fire and while admiring the views, and you will have enough energy for your return trip.
It is also worth visiting the national parks with the entire family. The Kiutaköngäs Rapids, which are located in the Oulanka National Park, can be reached with a walk along of a couple of hundred metres, and there is also the Könkään Kuohu accessible trail along which wheelchair users can also reach the bottom of the rapids. Kanjonin kurkkaus is an excellent trail, which winds around the Oulanka canyon, allowing you to find breath-taking views, and the trail is easily accessible even with a child in a back carrier.
Accessibility has been considered in an excellent manner at Hossa National Park. There are several trails that are suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, and plenty of camp fire sites. In addition, there is a disabled toilet and fishing platforms, which can easily be accessed on wheels to go fishing. Electric scooters and other mobility aids can be hired at Hossa Nature Centre. Riisin rääpäsy at Riisitunturi National Park is a four-kilometre-long trail that takes you to the top of the fell, and it is easily and comfortably accessible.
Many consider swimming to be the best thing about summer. There are countless rivers, lakes and ponds in the area of Kuusamo. You can go for a dip whenever you like, but Ruka’s only open beach is at Talvijärvi, in front of Hotel & Restaurant Rukatonttu. The sandy and gradually deepening beach is suitable for both sunbathers and for taking a toddler for a swim. After swimming, you can enjoy the steams of Rukatonttu sauna at an affordable price, and sauna drinks can be enjoyed on the restaurant’s platform terrace while swaying and listening to the sounds of the water.
On route to Oulanka National Park, you will find Käylä’s beach, which is a perfect location to refresh yourself after some activities. At the centre of Kuusamo, you can go swimming at Kelanranta, Pieni Helilampi and of course in the bubbles of Holiday Club Kuusamo Tropiikki spa, where the waters are guaranteed to be warm.
In the yard area of the Kuusamon Tropiikki spa, there is a full-size golf course, which is surrounded by a level and easily accessible dirt track. Here you can feel the bustle of historical leaves as you explore trenches and World War II aged bunkers. You can also find the gibbet that the Germans used to end the lives of several Russian soldiers, which will give you cold chills even on a warm day. As always in the vicinity of golf courses, you should be aware of the golf balls of golfers’ moving around near the trail. The pleasant Golf Cafe Breikki is open every day and the oven-fresh scents of buns should not be resisted.
Even the river entertainment is available to those exploring the area with toddlers. Children under the age of five cannot take part in rafting, but canoes or rowing boats can be used with even the smallest members of the family. While floating along Oulankajoki, Nurmisaarenniemi will appear and this is a lovely place to have a stop, a swim and enjoy the camp fire on the sandy riverside, which is sure to beat the busiest beaches on a hot summer day. Julma Ölkky, which is located at Hossa National Park, can be explored by a boat cruise throughout the summer.
And what would be better than to catch a nice big fish? In the centre of the village of Ruka, you will find Kaltiolampi in among the slopes, where it is almost guaranteed to catch fish as rainbow salmon has been stocked there. Fishing rods and permits to the salmon pond are available at RukaStore. In addition to salmon, grayling and whitefish has been stocked at Kuusamo’s Petäjälampi and pike and perch can be naturally found. Fishing permits are available from Kuusamon Uistin.
The riding stables in Kuusamo organise toddler riding on Iceland and Shetland ponies and Finnhorses, see Ruska Laukka stable and Wanha Raatesalmi stable where there are also sheep in the yard area. You can discover the summer lives of reindeer at Palosaari Reindeer Farm and Kujala Reindeer Farm.
There are playgrounds in Ruka village, at Ruka’s school and at the end of Uunikulmantie. There is an outdoor leisure park at Talvijärvi, where parents can e.g. train their abdominals while the children spin on the gymnastic hoops. On rainy days, you can find the indoor leisure centre Rosa & Rudolf Activity Park at Kumpare Shopping Centre and you can play with familiar bird characters at the Angry Birds Activity Park.
Text: Salla Karhumaa
Phots: Veera Vihervaara, Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association and Metsähallitus
Children’s back carriers can be hired at RukaStore and Sport House Ruka, and children's bicycle seats are available at RukaStore and Sport House Ruka.
Trail guidance is offered by Ruka Info and Kuusamo Info. You can also independently familiarise in the trail descriptions at Metsähallitus’s nationalparks.fi website and more information about fishing permits can be found at Eräluvat.fi.