Hike in the footsteps of Santa, all the way to the Korvatunturi in the UK-park
Urho Kekkonen National Park is a paradise for travellers and hikers alike. Round-topped fells, thick forests and wide string bogs beckon you to restore your might in nature and to enjoy wilderness atmosphere, which is unique in Europe.
Urho Kekkonen National Park, also known as Koilliskaira, is one of the last wilderness areas of Western Europe. National Park was founded in 1983 to protect the forest, bog and fell nature of Metsä-Lappi and Perä-Pohjola, as well as to insure the survival of traditional trades such as reindeer husbandry and camping.
The most noble landscapes of the Metsä-Lappi can be found in the Urho Kekkonen National Park. The rounded-tops of the fells are rugged and treeless. Sparse pine forests, draws and beautiful jäkäläkangas bring variety to the landscape. Some areas in the Nuortti’s draw valley are at times downright lush.
UK-National Park is a sanctuary to our wilderness animals. There are bears and wolverines in the park – wolves from the Russian side might also drop by. Golden eagles and Eurasian otters are the one of the permanent residents of the park, but it is more common to see reindeer, rabbits, elk and foxes in the park. Reindeer husbandry and woodcraft have long history in the area. Even today reindeer husbandry remains a vital source of livelihood in the region. Travellers have favored Koilliskaira since the 1950s, and today it’s one of the most popular wilderness travelling areas.
The popular marked trails of the National Park provide excellent opportunities for hiking year-round. There are approx. 250 km of maintained ski tracks in the region of Saariselkä-Kiilopää, and almost the same amount of marked summer trails. The most popular starting points for the National Park are Saariselkä, Kiilopää and Aittajärvi and Raja-Jooseppi in the northern parts of the park. You can get to the park from Vuotso via Orponen and from Savukoski via Kemihaara or Tulppio. There are no marked trails in the wilderness parts of the park, except Nuortti’s hiking trail or the ancient Ruijanpolku. However, there are sturdy trails in the most popular hiking trails and especially between cabins. Even though you can move freely in the National Park, we recommend you to use the existing paths. You must have map and compass with you (and know how to use them). GPS alone is not necessarily enough in the wilderness. There are several cabins, wilderness huts and reservation huts for the travellers.
National Park’s customer service points serve and offer guidance in the matters related to the region.