The most famous hiking trail in Finland is Karhunkierros Trail, which runs around Oulanka National Park and the surroundings of Ruka. The total length of the trail is 80 km, from Karhunkierros Visitor Centre in Hautajärvi to Ruka village. Hiking the entire trail takes 3–7 days, depending on the hiker’s condition.
Spectacular scenery along Karhunkierros Trail
Karhunkierros Trail is clearly marked in the terrain with orange paint markings and signposts, so there is no risk of getting lost. Karhunkierros Trail runs primarily through the uninhabited, wilderness-like natural forests of Oulanka National Park, following bodies of water.
There are quite great differences in altitude and, if you want to hike the entire trail, you have to be fit and have some hiking and camping experience. Karhunkierros Trail is a great choice for your first longer hike.
The scenery along Karhunkierros Trail in Oulanka National Park is marked by high, wooded hills, rivers and waterfalls that run deep in ravines, majestic cliffs, ridges and pine forests.
To prevent the erosion of the precious natural environment, hikers are requested to stick to the marked trails. Duckboards and suspension bridges have been built to make your hike easier.
There are several free, open wilderness huts and lean-to shelters along the trail, located at suitable hiking distances for overnight stays. We recommend you take a tent during the busiest summer season, as the open wilderness huts may be occupied.
You can also hike shorter sections of Karhunkierros Trail and get a great, diverse understanding of nature in the region.
The starting point of the trail is on the Salla (and Lapland province) side, at Karhunkierros Visitor Centre. You can also start the trail along Sallantie (950), from the Ristikallio parking area. You can also hike the trail from the south in Ruka northwards.
During the river fishing season (1 June–31 August), fishing licences for the Oulankajoki and Kitkajoki rivers are sold at Oulanka Visitor Centre and Ruka Info.
The sights along the northern part of the trail in Oulanka National Park include Ristikallio Cliffs, Savinajoki valley, the Oulanka Canyon and Rupakivi Rock. Spectacular waterfalls include Taivalköngäs, Kiutaköngäs, Aallokkokoski, Jyrävä and Myllykoski.
Along the southern section of the trail, you can admire open views from the peaks of Konttainen, Valtavaara and Ruka fells.
For many the best of what Karhunkierros Trail has to offer is located in Juuma, along the River Kitkajoki. Pieni Karhunkierros Trail (12 km), with its suspension bridges and handsome waterfalls, is a popular day trip destination.
During the busiest periods, the trail may be a little congested, so it’s worth bearing in mind that Kuusamo has plenty of other spectacular hiking trails!
Litter-free and responsible hiking
Respecting nature, getting around sustainably, camping appropriately, lighting campfires safely and litter-free hiking and camping are part of Outdoor Etiquette. Campfire sites are clearly marked in the terrain. Boiling drinking water is always recommended (using water from swamp ponds is not recommended). You can also take water in bottles with you from customer service points.
Everyone who visits Karhunkierros Trail and the entire Oulanka National Park is responsible for keeping the area clean and litter-free: there is no central waste management. There are no rubbish bins at campfire sites, which means that hikers must take all their waste with them and dispose of it appropriately.
When preparing for a hike, you should also consider how recyclable your food packaging is. In the national park area along Karhunkierros Trail, there are three waste collection points where you can sort recyclable waste, such as metal and glass as well as batteries, which are hazardous waste. Paper and carton can be burnt at campfire sites (taking into account forest fire warnings) and biowaste can be disposed of in toilets.
Luggage storage for travelers, e.g. when going hiking or waiting for a late flight
Scandic Rukahovi in Ruka village rents storage cages in the hotel's ski storage during the summer for tourists, also other than those staying at the hotel. Price 15 €/storage, payment to the hotel reception and the key to the storage cage can be left in storage at the hotel reception for e.g. during the hike. Ski storage is located behind the reception on the same floor, guidance from the hotel reception.
Karhunkierros Bus, group taxi or own car?
You can get to the starting points of Karhunkierros Trail i.e. Karhunkierros Visitor Centre and the Ristikallio parking lot with Karhunkierros bus or shared taxi. If you decide to travel there by your own car, a convenient car transfer service is available!