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 luontoon.fi (in english nationalparks.fi) 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.
- Ounasvaara Nature Trails
- The Arctic Circle Hiking Area
- Lake Olkkajärvi
- 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
The 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.
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.
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.
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!