Among free activities in Finnish Lapland, you’ll off course find some hiking possibilities. According to me, it is one the the main raison that should push people to visit Lapland. Why? Because this is one of the best way to enjoy nature which is so unique in Lapland and surely changes a lot through the seasons.
In this article, we will spotlight some place where you can go hiking around Rovaniemi.
Firstly, we are going to check those who are possible to do during summer and secondly those that are accesible also during winter time when the ground is covered with snow.
Note of those trails requires permit or authorizaton. All the listed area have free access.
Hiking around Rovaniemi in summer,
Hiking around Rovaniemi in winter,
Equipment rental in Rovaniemi.
I. Hiking around Rovaniemi in summer
Let’s start with possibilities of hiking around Rovaniemi during late sping and summer time.
First of all, it should be pointed that layers of snow covering forest soils and hiking paths are lasting longeur than snow in urban areas.
Don’t be fooled by the fact the the snow has totaly melted from city center and suroudings. As matter of fact, forests and remote shady place can be covered with snow until end of April or be flooded until mai.
Vikaköngäs is located about 25km north-east of Rovaniemi on the road 82 running between Rovaniemi and sodankylä.
If you don’t have your own vehicle, you might be interested in going there by bus. In that case, you can find all needed information from matkahuolto website. Then, check either buses from Rovaniemi to Kemijärvi or from Rovaniemi to Sodankylä.The closest bus stop is Lake Vikajärviand is located at 200 metres from Vikaköngäs starting point .
This area is called Arctic Circle Hiking Area and is one of the most importante around Rovaniemi. It is offering many hiking optrions starting from three différents locations .
From Vikaköngäs parking area at the southern end of the village of Vikajärvi, at the northern end
Vikaköngäs Shore Trail (200m / 10min) accessible en fauteuil roulant,
Vaattunkivaara Nature Trail (4km / 1,5h),
Könkäiden polku Trail (10km /4h).
From Vaattunkiköngäs parking area at the western end of the hiking area
Take advantage of hiking aroung Rovaniemi to pick some fresh berries from forests…
Depending on the season, several types of berries and mushrooms can be found around Rovaniemi . For the pleasure of your taste buds, picking berries and mushrooms is authorised. However, remenber that it is not allowed to pick up any rocks.
For more information, I invite you to read the dedicated article about Berry picking in Lapland.
2) Ounasvaara nature trail
If you don’t know what to do in Rovaniemi, this is something you should consider. Among the different options if you wish to go hiking around Rovaniemi, you’ll find the Ounasvaara hill. A place that also deserve to be visited.
Enjoy the fantastic panoramic view from the top of Ounasvaara…
Ounasvaara Nature Trail is about 3km east of the centre of Rovaniemi. This destination is perfect for a day trip and offer a nice walk into the forest and on the rocks up to the top of Ounasvaara.
Map of the trail
The main trail starts next to Santa sport facilities and is 4.5km long. It takes about 2hours and goes around the southern edge of the hill eastward to a fireplace and small shelter (Laavu).
Many others activities can be done throughout the year…
The Ounasvaara hill also offers many differents activities for the sport lovers, from hiking paths to swimming pool, adventure park, gym hall and bowling. For more information, check Santa Sport website.
First of all, let’s talk about the meaning of that name: “Hiidenkirnut”
It means Devil’s churns which is the name given for those potholes created by powerful meltwater flows.
It is located 25km South-West of Rovaniemi and it is only accisible after the snow has melted, usually from jun to october. Rest of the time, the snow blocks the access to the area.
There, you can walk around the devil’s churns using the forest tracks and rocky paths. You will also have a great view from the observation located 100m high. Of course, those churns are important part of the area.
How those churns have been created?
There are no less than 14 churns over there with three of them among the biggest in Finland. The biggest has a diameter of 8 meters and a depth of 15 meters. They have been created about 10,000 years ago, on fringes of the metling continental ice sheet. Rocks and stones were swept away by fast flowing meltwater resulting in rock erosion.
Address: “Hiidenkirnuntie 165 ; 97110 Rovaniemi”
II. Hiking around Rovaniemi in winter
Now that we have pointed out some hiking posibilities around Rovaniemi during summer, we are now going to list the posibilities during winter time. Generally, the ground is snow covered from begining of november until end of April.
It is hard to belive that this photo has been taken at the same place as the one at the beginning of this article…
And yet, there is no doubt, it is the same place. This is just the king of landscape transformation we are witnessing when we live at the 66th parallel north, right on the arctic circle.
This river that does not freeze completely and ice sheets that partialy cover it offer an magnificent scenery of Lapland.
But can we go hiking there during winter?
YES! The Arctic Circle Hiking Area is accesible throughout the year. Whether you want to go hiking, snowshoeing or even cross-country skiing outside prepared trails, this is the place to go!
Even though it is mentioned that the tracks are not maintained during winter, we usually fing some kind of small paths where the snow is packed. So as long as you stay on the tracks, normal high hiking shoes might be enough.
However, if you dare stepping out of the tracks, you might find yourself sinking in more than a meter of fresh snow.
If you want to be sure than you won’t have any problem walking on the snow, or if you definitly want to go off-track, then I recommend to rent snowshoes.
If you don’t know where to find such equipment or if you just want to compare prices, I recommend you to read my article about equipment rental in Rovaniemi
In addition to the amazing scenery and the benefits of hiking, you will also find some lean-to along those traks. In Finnish, they are called “Laavu” and you can find many of them when you go into the forests or next to the lakes. Most of the time, you’ll find a shelter nearby with dry wood that you can light up a fire and grill some sausages.
First of all, it is strongly recommended to wear high hiking shoes so that you won’t get your feet wet after a few meters. Something you must also have with you for freezing cold days are Foot Warmers. They will keep your feet toasty warm and relieve joint and arthritis pain.
Finally, another useful equipment that you should definitly put in your luggage is the anti slip spikes. Depending on the season, they might be definitly part of your equipment
2) Stroll on frozen rivers
Without doubt, walking or skiing on frozen rivers is definitly one of the main activities during winter. Why? Because like everywhere in FInlande, there are many lakes around Rovaniemi which also lies at the confluence of two rivers (Ounasjoki and Kemijoki). In other words, there are many opportunities to go on the ice for a walk. And of course, you can aslo go with cross country skies or even for an ice fishing experience.
WARNING: Always stay away from open water!
If you want to be sure, just follow signposted tracks.
3) The bridges walk
Finally, I would like to spotlight one of the most famous walk for the locals…The briges walk.
To be precise, there are 4 briges surrounding the city of Rovaniemi. The draw two possible loops starting from the city center. The shortest loop is 6km long while the longest is 8km long.
Here is the bridges list (“siltaa” in Finnish):
Suutarinkorvan silta (road bridge and old railway bridge),
Jätkänkynttilä silta (Lamberjack candle bridge: the most significant and recognizable bridge of Rovaniemi),
Ounaskosken silta (the southernmost bridge which is both railway and road bridge),
Ounasjoen silta (the bridge going from city center to K city market).
This walk is about 6km long and fairly flat throughout its lenght. As there is a dedicated cycling lane, it is quite secure and accessible on foot, by bicycle and even by roller-skate.
Hiking around Rovaniemi: Loop 1
Hiking around Rovaniemi: Loop 2
In both summer and winter
Of course, you can do these walks at any time of the year.
A little extra making the difference when you go hiking around Rovaniei in winter is that you can gaze at the frozen lanscape. You will also find speacial seasonal features on your way such winter bath…
IIII. Equipment rental in Rovaniemi
If you are interested in renting special equipment such as snowshoes or bikes, I invite you to read the articles Equipment rental Rovaniemi.