Day Hikes in Finland – 8 Best Short Hiking Trails

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Saana fell has a rugged landscape. Kilpisjärvi, Finland. Photo: Ville Palonen

Finland is full of wonderful nature attractions that can be easily explored on a day trip. Hiking in Finland does not necessarily require expensive equipment or even orienteering skills, because the most popular trails in national parks are clearly marked on the terrain.

This article introduces the best short hiking trails in Finland. It takes up to a few hours to walk around these routes, and most are suitable for the whole family.

Haukankierros, Nuuksio

Nuuksio National Park is a really popular day trip destination, as it is located right next to the Helsinki metropolitan area. The most legendary route in the park is called Haukankierros (Hawk’s Trail).

The terrain and landscapes of the Hawk’s Trail include root-covered slopes, boreal forests and steep rock cliffs. The path is in good condition so hiking shoes are not needed, as cross-country sneakers do well in dry weather.

The length of the Hawk’s Trail is about 4 kilometers, but you should plan to spend at least two hours. There are some steep climbs on the route, and of course a perfect day in great outdoors includes a proper lunch break. One of the best places is on the shores of Mustalammi, where one can marvel at the strange floating peat islands. During the lunch break, you can grill sausage just like all the Finns do, as Nuuksio has many campfire sites with firewood. There are also several shorter and longer routes in Nuuksio.

Nuuksio can be reached by local bus from the center of Helsinki. The journey takes about an hour. In Nuuksio it’s also worth visiting the Finnish Nature Center Haltia, whose exhibition presents Finnish national parks.

Ketunlenkki, Repovesi

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Repovesi National Park in southern Finland has plenty of small lakes and steep cliffs. Photo: Ville Palonen

Repovesi National Park is a real gem: despite its small size, the place feels wild, and on the other hand, the services for outdoor enthusiasts are first-class. There are barbecue shelters, dining tables, campfire sites, dry toilets and camping areas.

The Fox Loop (Ketunlenkki) is a five-kilometer-long ring trail that is perfect for the whole family. Highlights of the Fox Loop include crossing the Lapinsalmi suspension bridge and the manually operated Ketunlossi cable ferry. If you want to see the wilderness from a bird’s-eye view, take a small detour and climb to the Katajavuori lookout.

Repovesi is located north of Kouvola, a two-hour drive from Helsinki (175 km).

Read more: Repovesi

Huippujen Kierros, Koli

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Lake Pielinen seen from Ukko-Koli hill in Koli National Park, Finland. Photo: Ville Palonen

The 1.4-kilometer Tour of the Peaks (Huippujen Kierros), which runs along the top ridge of Koli hill, takes you to Finland’s most beautiful national landscape. The view from the top of Ukko-Koli over the Pielinen Lake once inspired Jean Sibelius and other Finnish artists.

The Tour of the Peaks starts at Nature Center Ukko and Break Sokos Hotel Koli. Stairs and a steep path lead to the 347-meter-high peak of Ukko-Koli in just ten minutes. The trail passes through two other peaks, Paha-Koli and Akka-Koli. Even though a visit to the lookout can be done in half an hour, you should reserve at least a couple of hours to enjoy Finland’s national landscape to the fullest.

In addition to hiking, it is worth visiting the Ukko Nature Center and the hotel’s Koli Relax Spa.

Koli National Park is located in Eastern Finland, 60 kilometers north of Joensuu.

Read more: Wild East – Kainuu and North Karelia regions of Eastern Finland

Julma-Ölkky, Hossa

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Julma-Ölkky canyon lake in Hossa National Park, Finland. Photo: Ville Palonen

Ölökyn Ähkäsy is a strange name even in Finnish standards. The 10-kilometer-long trail circles a canyon lake called Julma-Ölkky in Hossa National Park. The rocky terrain is a little demanding in some places – it takes several hours to hike around the lake. The view from the steep cliffs dropping into the narrow lake is stunning.

In the halfway of Julma-Ölkky there is a lean-to shelter and a suspension bridge, so it’s possible to hike around only half of the lake (5 kilometers). You can also explore Julma-Ölkky by renting a canoe. Canoeing on a small lake is easy and safe even for a beginner. 

From the Julma-Ölkky car park, you can take a stroll 3.5 km away to see the 3,500-year-old rock paintings of Värikallio cliff. There are many other wonderful hiking trails in the park.

Hossa National Park is located in the middle of Finland’s eastern border, 75 kilometers south of Kuusamo.

Read more: Hossa

Pieni Karhunkierros, Kuusamo

Finland’s most famous trek is the 80-kilometer Bear Tour (Karhunkierros) in Oulanka National Park. There is also a shorter version of this legendary trail. The Little Bear Tour is a 12-kilometer-long ring trail that can be hiked in one day (4-6 hours).

Along the trail you will see many highlights of the actual Bear Tour. The most memorable of these is Jyrävä, a wildly roaring 9-meter waterfall in the Kitkajoki River, whose rumble can be heard from a distance.

The Little Bear Tour is a clearly marked and easy-to-navigate route with campfire sites and three suspension bridges.

The starting point of the Little Bear Tour is 45 kilometers from Kuusamo and 22 kilometers from Ruka.

Kiilopää, Saariselkä

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Kiilopää fell is easy to reach by snowshoes in winter. Urho Kekkonen National Park, Finland. Photo: Ville Palonen

Kiilopää is one of the most famous fells in the Saariselkä area. From its top, a breathtaking landscape opens up to Urho Kekkonen National Park.

It’s easy to climb to the top of the 546 meters high Kiilopää. A two-kilometer-long, well-marked and easy-to-navigate route begins at the gate of the national park, Kiilopää Fell Center’s car park. The elevation gain is about 200 meters. If you don’t want to return the same way, you can hike around the six-kilometer Kiiruna Trail, which is a ring trail.

You can climb to the top of Kiilopää in good weather in ordinary shoes, even in winter. However, we recommend renting snowshoes, as they allow you to walk your own trails on the slopes of the fell.

The outdoor day culminates in the Kiilopää sauna, which is considered to be the best smoke sauna in Finland. Three days a week, heating the huge stove starts at seven in the morning to make the sauna hot by the afternoon.

Kiilopää is located in Eastern Lapland, south of Ivalo. Best places to stay are Kiilopää Fell Hotel and a few kilometers away the legendary Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, original starting place of the glass igloo boom.

Read more: Kiilopää

Taivaskeron Kierros, Pallas

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Taivaskero Trail during autumn foliage in September. Pallas-Ylläs National Park, Finland. Photo: Ville Palonen

Taivaskero Tour (Taivaskeron Kierros)is the most popular day hike in Western Lapland. The nine-kilometer route (3-4 hours) starts from the car park of the Pallastunturi Nature Center and takes you through a forest to the treeless landscapes of Pallastunturi.

The gravel-paved path, despite the steep points, is an easy walk until the top ridge. Before climbing to the top of Taivaskero, it is worth taking a lunch break, as the peak is windy and covered with rocks.

From the top of Taivaskero you can see tens of kilometers in clear weather. To the north, behind the fell range, is Hetta, where Finland’s most popular trekking trail Hetta-Pallas begins. 

There is also a historic attraction at Taivaskero. A plaque on top of a pile of stones explains that the Olympic flame was lit here in 1952.

On the way back, you can take a winding route through the Pallas ski resort or turn to a smaller path that descends to the bottom of Vatikuru gorge. There, the path follows a crystal clear creek back to Pallas Nature Center and the traditional Lapland Hotels Pallas.

Saanan Polku, Kilpisjärvi

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Saana fell near Lake Kilpisjärvi, northern Lapland, during autumn foliage. Photo: Ville Palonen

Saana is the undisputed queen of Finnish fells. The steep hill rises near the Norwegian border, sovereignly dominating the landscape of Lake Kilpisjärvi. Arriving from the south, Saana looks like a fortress that is impossible – or at least very difficult – to conquer. 

Climbing to the top of Saana is one of Lapland’s most memorable experiences. Surprisingly it’s suitable for anyone, even children. The round trip is about 8 kilometers and takes four hours, and no special equipment is needed on the route. Good shoes and a walking stick come handy.

The Saana area is a nature reserve where you can only walk on marked trails. It takes a couple of hours to ascend to the top, you descend a little faster.

The trail starts from the parking lot of Malla Nature Park, which is located between Kilpisjärven Retkeilykeskus and the Norwegian border. After a high slope, the path becomes less steep and goes over slate rocks. After continuing long enough – quite a lot longer than it seems at first glance – you will finally reach the top.

The peak of Saana rises to 1,029 meters above sea level and 556 meters above the surface of Lake Kilpisjärvi. The landscape that opens up around in clear weather is dazzlingly beautiful: the treeless plateau and lakes glistening in the sun. On the horizon rise the snow-capped mountains of Norway.

Tips for Finnish hiking trails

Finnish national parks and outdoor areas are open to everyone. There are no entrance fees and the rest areas can be used completely free of charge.

However, please read the rules of the park before going on a hike. For example, camping and lighting a campfire are often only allowed in the places reserved for them. In some protected areas you can only walk on the marked path.

Pack weather-proof clothes and plenty of snacks in your daypack. Along many routes there is a shed with firewood or a lean-to shelter where it is nice to stop to fry sausages and drink coffee. Remember that in summer, during a forest fire warning, it is forbidden to light an open fire.

You should always have a topographic map application on your phone (or paper map in your pocket) when hiking in nature.

Read more: National Parks in Finland – 10 Best Places for Hiking and Camping

Finland’s best hiking trails on the map

The map below has the best national parks in Finland, and many other recommended outdoor attractions like best day hikes, wildlife safaris, fishing spots and canoeing routes.

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Ville Palonen (born 1976) is a freelance photographer and travel writer who loves mountains, wildlife and road trips. He has visited 80 countries and travelled in adventurous destinations like Amazon, Himalaya and Borneo. In Finland Ville spends his time photographing, hiking, fishing, hunting and mushrooming. Ville's favourite destinations in Finland are treeless fells of Lapland and wild parts of East Finland.


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