Winter landscape in Lapland, Finland. Snow games with an alaskan malamute

Winter-Accessible Nature Trails around Rovaniemi, Finland

In my free time I love to spend the light hours of the day outdoors, otherwise I feel like I wasted my day. Accessing the Lappish nature in wintertime without snowshoes or skis can be tricky, but it’s doable once you know where to go. The Finnish website (in english is a helpful tool if you’re not familiar with the nature around you – I’m also using it when I’m out of ideas on where to go in my free time. The page has a search function that shows information about different kinds of nature areas and parks near you.

Living in Rovaniemi, here are my best picks for you for experiencing the winter wonderland as I do when I got out on hikes on my own.

    1. Ounasvaara Nature Trails
    2. The Arctic Circle Hiking Area
    3. Lake Olkkajärvi
    4. Kätkävaara Fell

Ounasvaara Nature Trails

The Ounasvaara nature trails and winter walking path are located only 2 kilometers away from the city center of Rovaniemi. They are a good choice also when you don’t have your own car and want to either walk or take a bus to the destination.

The Winter Walking Trail path markings have been renewed, and they are easy to follow. This is a great choice when you’re not planning on spending more than 3 hours outdoors.

If you choose to walk the whole nature trail, remember to take sausages along. There are two lean-to’s and viewtowers along the way. If you dont want to carry food or drinks with you, stop by the Sky Hotel Ounasvaara, and enjoy a hot chocolate after your walk.

The Arctic Circle Hiking Area

vaattunki-vikajarvi01The Vaattunki-Vikajärvi area is the official recreational outdoor area of the city of Rovaniemi. Officially it’s called Napapiirin retkeilyalue / Arctic Circle Hiking Area. The hiking area is located 25 kilometers towards Ivalo from the city center. The routes are easy and well marked with campfire sites and information signs along the path. The area is so frequently visited that depending on the snow conditions, at least some routes are accessible in wintertime without snow shoes.

The trails are very well marked. Depending on which route you choose, you can make have an easy stroll in the woods or choose to get some proper exercise in the snowy forest.

For a very easy walk in the woods, you can do the 1,5 km long Könkäänsaaren esteetön luontopolku. This is a ring route, and along the trail you can admire the Raudanjoki river and make a campfire by one of the lean-to’s that are free to use. The trail starts from the main parking lot of the Hiking area and the markings are easy to follow.

Regardless the snow conditions, it is possible to walk to the Karhukumpu and Könkäänsaari Lean-to’s in the wintertime. These tracks are so frequently used that the snow is always trampled. Sometimes I’ve been able to get to the Säynätoja lean-to as well. If you choose to walk that far, I warmly recommend forest skis or snow shoes.

The map below is made by Metsähallitus. You can find this map and more information of the routes here.

Disabled people and families with small children can enjoy the nature here as well. Könkäänsaaren esteetön luontopolku is also accessible by wheelchair and the great view to the Raudanjoki river can be enjoyed on the bridge.

The address of the Arctic Circle area parking lot is Vaattunkikönkääntie 208, 96900 Rovaniemi, here’s a Google maps link to the area.

Raudanjoki, Nature trails around Rovaniemi


The Olkkajärvi nature trail is located between the Napapiirin retkeilyalue and the Arctic Circle Santa Claus village. The parking spot for the nature trail is next to the road E75 leading to Ivalo, so you can stop at Lake Olkkajärvi on your way to the Arctic Circle Hiking Area.

The address is Sodankyläntie 1612, 96900 Rovaniemi, here is a Google Maps link to the area.

Nature trails around Rovaniemi, Olkkajärvi
Lake Olkkajärvi

Kätkävaara FELL

To get a better view over the southern Lappish nature you can climb on top of Kätkävaara.  The Kätkävaara area is surrounded by wide nature regions with a 7 km long nature trail as its main attraction. The route is more challenging than the routes in Napapiiri (Arctic Circle), and takes hours in the summer as well – in wintertime snowshoes or forest skis are a must.

There is a 800 meter long natural skiing hill on the northern side of the Kätkävaara fell. This area is great for sledding and the top of the fell can be accessed by foot from this side. There is a kota, a wooden hut, located along the way and it’s free to use. If you choose to go to Kätkävaara, make sure that you stop there to make a fire and enjoy your lunch. I always take hot drinks and Finnish sausages along on trips like this.

Kätkävaara is located in Tervola. It’s approximately 74km’s from Rovaniemi, driving along the E75.

Nature trails around Rovaniemi
enjoying the view from Kätkävaara

If you are planning a trip to Rovaniemi and want to know more about the winter hiking opportunities in the region, you can leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

4 comments on “Winter-Accessible Nature Trails around Rovaniemi, FinlandAdd yours →

  1. Hi there,
    Myself and three friends from the UK are heading to Rovaniemi in mid March. We will be doing 3/4 days of winter hiking and camping, as a preparation trip for further Arctic expeditions. My plan was to head NW alongside Sinettajarvi and then do a kind of loop back down near Kenttnamaa. My question is – will there be relatively well marked trails in these areas, and how likely is it that there will be snowmobile tracks etc?
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Ben,
      I’m so sorry for the late reply! I’ve been moving to a new place, so moving and renovating have taken all of my free time until now. You’re in luck asking me about the Sinettäjärvi trails, because I actually own a lakeside property by the lake Sinettäjärvi and visit the area in the wintertime. 🙂 Are you planning on hiking on foot, or will you use skis or showshoes? The hiking trails in the regions that you mentioned won’t be open during March. (Even the long routes at the Arctic Circle hiking area won’t be accessible without snowshoes/skis at that time of the year because we’ll have a lot of snow in the spring-winter.) Some of the forest roads in the Sinettäjärvi region get snow plowed, so you should be able to use those if you’re traveling on foot. There are also snowmobile and husky safari trails in the area, but these tracks are reserved only for sled dogs or snowmobiles.

  2. Dear Veera, my name is Maria and I am doing my Erasmus in Turku right now. I’ll be visiting Rovaniemi in middle March. We really want to go snowshoeing but the prices to go with guides are very high for us, so we were thinking on just renting them and go on some paths, like the ones you suggest in your blog (btw thank you so much, extremely helpful). First of all I’d like to ask you if you think this okay and a safe plan to follow. If you also have any suggestion about where to rent them that would be a great insight for us. It’s the first time in Lapland for all of us, it’s gonna be a group of five people and we have no car, so we will move around by bus. If you also have some updates since 2016 on what maybe could be more accessible for us that would be great. Thank you very much for all of those informations and I hope to hear back from you!
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Maria,

      I hope that you’re enjoying your Erasmus time in Turku! By visiting Rovaniemi in the wintertime, you’ll be able to see two totally different sides of Finland. ☺️

      The information on the blog post is still up to date, only the Ounasvaara Winter Walking trail was made even wider and better last year. You should definitely do the Ounasvaara walk together as a day trip. If you are staying in the city center, it’ll be within a walking distance for you. The first fireplace does not always have firewood, so if you would like to have a BBQ, be prepared to walk to the second one.
      You will not need show shoes for this walk, but you can definitely try them out here if you like.
      For a proper snowshoe walk I’d recommend the Arctic circle hiking area. This is a popular recreational area and might get a little crowded during the day, but when you continue walking just a little bit past the most popular paths, you’ll find untouched snowy hiking tracks. Snowshoeing is great exercise! Going alone is safe only if you know how to prepare for the trip and know what you’re doing (right clothing, weather info, location tracker etc.). If you’re feeling unsure, it may be better to choose to go to Ounasvaara, as it’s safe and you can always get back to town quickly (and no car is needed for getting there). ☺️

      Many tour companies rent out winter gear and snowshoes here in Rovaniemi, so I don’t think that you have to book in advance. Just have a look around when you arrive. (Even I have a couple of pairs in store that I might be able to rent out if need be.☺️)
      I hope that you have a lovely holiday in Rovaniemi!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.