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Breathtaking Bear’s Trail draws more adventurers to Kuusamo

More and more people are trekking Finland’s most popular wilderness hiking route, the Bear’s Trail in Kuusamo’s Oulanka National Park. On some sections of the 80km trail, the number of walkers has more than doubled this year.

Kuusamo, Karhunkierros Juuma
The Bear’s Trail features dramatic river crossings. Image: Ensio Karjalainen / Yle

On some segments of northern Finland's Bear's Trail where the forest management agency Metsähallitus has visitor counters, the number of visitors was more than twice as high in May as a year earlier. In June, the number of walkers was up by around five percent, and July has also been a busy month.

The easier 12.5km Little Bear’s Trail attracts an average of 60,000 hikers annually; some 400 a day in summer. It's located near the Ruka outdoors resort area, just south of the border of Finnish Lapland.

Czeching out the Bear’s Trail

On Tuesday, a tired but satisfied Czech hiker, Martina Laboha, arrived at the Juuma village rest stop.

“I decided to explore some Finnish national parks, after hearing about how amazing these Finnish landscapes are when I was in Nordkapp, Norway, earlier this summer. This Bear’s Trail has particularly beautiful landscapes,” says Laboha, who spent three days in Oulanka, which has been certified as a prime European wilderness area by the PAN Parks network.

“I slept in the midst of nature and swam in rivers and ponds. A great experience,” she says.

The Bear’s Trail shows nature lovers dramatic white-water spots such as Jyrävä and Kiutaköngäs. At the route’s northernmost point at Lake Hautajärvi, the UKK Trail – named after former president and outdoorsman Urho Kekkonen – heads north into the vast, sparsely-populated municipality of Salla in Finnish Lapland.

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