See & explore

Urho Kekkonen National Park and Tankavaara Visitor Centre

The Urho Kekkonen National Park (often abbreviated to UKK) is one of Finland’s largest nature protection areas and one of its most popular hiking spots.

Experience Koilliskaira – either on a one-day walk or a longer ramble.

Have you already seen the huge stone tors standing at the top of Pyhä-Nattanen? And do you know how unbelieve a sight Paratiisikuru gorge is? The Urho Kekkonen National Park, and Sompio Nature Park in one corner of it, represent some of Finland’s most stunning wilderness landscapes. The vast wilderness also offers easy destinations for day trippers passing by at all times of year.

An easy hike in the UKK National Park: The Tankavaara routes

The Tankavaara Visitor Centre, right on Route 4, is an ideal place to stop and dive into the nature of Lapland for a moment. Four nature walks of various lengths start in the Visitor Centre yard:

  • The Common Redpoll Path, 1 km
  • The Capercaillie Path, 3 km
  • The Siberian Jay Path, 6 km
  • The Geological Path, 7 km

There are picnicking opportunities along the paths – remember to bring your own snacks! All four routes function as snow-shoe walking routes in the winter. At the start of the Siberian Jay Path there are military history sites that were part of the German Schutzwall defence construction.

The Tankavaara Visitor Centre tells visitors about the history of the Urho Kekkonen National Park, or Koilliskaira. The permanent exhibition at the Visitor Centre presents the rich nature, flora and fauna of the area, as well as Saami culture, reindeer herding and the history of hiking. In the winter, the Visitor Centre is only open by appointment. Read more.

Urho Kekkosen kansallispuisto ja Tankavaaran luontokeskus - Visit Sodankylä 2

The routes that begin at the Visitor Centre courtyard function as snow-shoe walking routes in the winter.

 

Sompio Strict Nature Reserve and the Pyhä-Nattanen

At the village of Vuotso it’s worth turning east towards the Sompio Strict Nature Reserve. The Pyhä-Nattanen circle route (7 km) is suitable for day-trippers, while those seeking a longer ramble will enjoy the Ruija Path, which connects the Nattanen range of fells. Hikers are served by the shelters, fireplaces, birdwatching tower, mooring posts and jetty on the shore of Lake Sompiojärvi. (Map)

In the Nature Park, walking is only permitted on the marked routes, that is, the Nattanen and Ruija routes. There are shelters for taking breaks in along both routes.

Everyone should experience the Pyhä-Nattanen fell at least once in his or her life. It is crowned by huge stone tors and it offers unrestricted views in all directions: spot the huge Lokka reservoir, the amazing Sokosti fell, the beautiful Lake Sukkulalampi and, in clear weather, Korvatunturi fell. The Nattanen circle route is 7 km long and challenging at times because of its rocky nature. If you want a slightly easier version of the route, you should walk to and from the peak along the same path, the one that begins with duckboards. The beginning of the route on map.

The Ruija (Finnish for Finnmark) Path is a 35 km hiking route that extends from the Sompio Nature Park to the Urho Kekkonen National Park and on to the village of Laanila. It is part of the Ruija or Finnmark Route, which goes all the way to the Arctic Sea, and which, as far as we know, is Lapland’s oldest route. The Ruija Path begins on the shore of Lake Sompiojärvi (map).

Urho Kekkosen kansallispuisto ja Tankavaaran luontokeskus - Visit Sodankylä 3

On the top of Pyhä-Nattanen there is a fire guard’s hut and a fireplace.

 

Experience the magic of the Koilliskaira wilderness on a long hike

The forested wilderness of Koilliskaira has captured the heart of many a rambler. An extensive network of cabins and routes serves ramblers in search of the peace of Lapland all year round. However, travelling in this large wilderness demands good hiking skills, careful preparation and proper equipment.

Read more

Nationalparks.fi: Urho Kekkonen National Park

 

Nationalparks.fi: Sompio Strict Nature Reserve

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