The hiking trails in this region are probably some of the best in the world. They vary in length and difficulty but all trails almost always have some form of wilderness cabin provision. All the cabins are maintained by the state, and vary from reserved locked huts, to open lean-to shelters. All have toilet facilities, a wood supply and a nearby water source. The cabins that can be found in each key area, are shown here.
The mountains blossom throughout July and August and hiking, etc, is possible from mid June to the end of September, although you want to be on a fairly high trek if you visit between c. 20th June and 20th August because of the mosquitos. By the time we are into the Autumn, particularly the first three weeks of September, the landscape is vibrant with colour. This is known as the ruska period and is when most of the Finnish ‘summer’ tourists come to the area – almost as many as visit in the Spring for long warm days of skiing.
This section has been further subdivided into the following areas:
There are two starting points for trails on the north side of Hetta. They are the Nature Centre Skierri and behind the Enontekiö centre school buildings. If you are heading towards Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park you need to first cross Lake Ounasjärvi. Private tourist services provide boat trips across the lake, but you can catch one boat from near the silver shop beside the municipality offices – ask in the silver shop for more details.
Jyppyrä Nature Reserve
Jyppyrä at the eastern end of Hetta, is definitely worthy of a visit whilst in Hetta - whether for its nature, the Fell Lapland Nature Centre or the Downhill Ski Resort. In earlier times Jyppyrä was considered a place of worship and small sacrifices used to be made at the site of an ancient seita rock (a holy rock) situated near the top of the hill. According to local legend, this rock was rolled into Lake Ounasjärvi in the 1800s in an attempt by local missionaries to put a stop to pagan worship. Today, various nature trails which set out from the Fell Lapland Nature Centre not only highlight such historical insights but also provide information on the local flora and fauna. The shortest trail (c. 2km) is a circular route that ascends to the summit of Juppyrä on a small forest trail and then descends via a well-maintained wooden staircase. In the autumn allow yourself plenty of time since you will no doubt be distracted by all of the abundant varieties of Lappish berries that can be found along the sides of the trail.
Jyppyrävaara Hill itself is covered by pine dominated forest, dotted with birches as well as aspen and mountain ash. There are only a few lone spruce trees in the area, as the northern growth line of spruce is 20 km south of the area. At the summit, a campfire shelter provides the perfect vantage point for the surrounding area. The surrounding fell landscape astounds visitors with its beauty time after time.
More than one hundred remains of prehistoric hunting pits have been found in the Jyppyrä area. These pits - used for hunting wild reindeer - were one of the earliest hunting methods we know. The hunting pits were dug in the dense sandy soil. The walls of the pit were often supported by wooden structures. Sometimes the pit was also covered with branches and bark and disguised by moss and lichen with a sharp stone or stake placed at the bottom of the pit. The prehistoric remains of the hunting pits are still visible as slight depressions in the terrain.
A complete system of hunting pits has been found in the Jyppyrä area; a total of 107 remains of hunting pits. It has been concluded that this system was used when hunting in groups at the turn of autumn and winter. A large number of hunters would participate. They may even have caught thousands of kilos of reindeer meat after a successful hunting period.
They form a chain-like system of hunting pits, the total length of which is 1,5 km. Remains of hunting pits are among the very few remains of prehistoric hunting equipment.
Sometimes the reindeer that had ventured into the area fell into the hunting pits accidentally. However, the largest load of game was obtained in the kind of hunting where beaters chased reindeer towards the hunting area. Wedge-like fences facilitated hunting, as they prevented the reindeer from escaping in the wrong direction. Hounds were also used in chasing reindeer.
In olden times, the Jyppyrä area was a winter grazing zone for wild reindeer. The reindeer hunting sites formed an entity, which comprised, in addition to hunting equipment, a base, meat storages and a place of worship, i.e., a seida. It is said that the Jyppyrä seida was located on top of Jyppyrä Hill. It was a large square stone that stood on four small stones. According to folklore, the builders of the Enontekiö church rolled the seida rock down into Lake Ounasjärvi at the bottom of the hill in the 1800's.
Hunting with the help of Fences came later...
Reindeer hunters used a wedge-like fence structure called 'vuomen'. The ends of the fence structure were built on the treeless fell area and they may have been located at a distance of 20 km from each other. The first section of the fence structure comprised stakes that were placed at lengthy intervals. Peat or ragged clothes were put on top of the stakes to scare the reindeer.
At the spot where the guiding fences drew closer to each other, the rows of stakes changed into wooden fences. The fence structure's wedge-like point continued as a track, at the end of which were a few steep steps. Finally, there was a large fenced pit at the end of the structure.
Hunting with the help of fences took place when the weather was good for skiing at the turn of winter and spring. The beaters spotted a herd of reindeer on the fells, chased them between the rows of stakes and finally into the large pit. According to legend, a man called Päiviö and his party, who lived in Peltovuoma, Enontekiö, in the 1600s, managed to catch 1,000 reindeer in one go with the help of such fences.
From Spear-shaped Pole to Deer Gun
Among the first known small arms were spear-shaped poles and hand bows. The reindeer hunters who skied used a spear-shaped pole and a hand bow as ski poles. Both of them had a ring on them to facilitate skiing. It is said that the spear-shaped pole that was used in Enontekiö was 140 cm long. The string of the hand bow that functioned as the other ski pole was only drawn during the hunting event.
The first actual deer guns came into use in the 1600s. Hunters were able to fire precise shots from up to a distance of 70 metres with the deer gun.
The Jyppyrä Trail (1.6 km)
This trail starts from the yard of the Skierri Fell Lapland Nature Centre and goes to the lookout point located at the top of Jyppyrävaara Hill. The trail has been marked with red-painted sun symbols, and there are steps and a rest spot along the trail. The information boards along the trail tell you about the area's history: the customs of the Midsummer celebration and the seida rocks. You may return to Skierri along another trail. The Jyppyrä Trail belongs to the trail network of the Hetta Area.
Services: A look-out campfire shelter at the top of Jyppyrä Hill.
Peurapolku Trail (2 km)
The trail has its starting point at Fell Lapland Nature Centre Skierri and is the most accessible trail. Whilst it has negligible ascent, it is still interesting as a classic example of a Scandinavian board-walk trail, with illustrated information boards (in Finnish) about the history of the wild forest reindeer hunting that was prolific in that area, historically. The trail leads along level easy to cross terrain on the south side of Jyppyrä Hill. The following trails go via the Peurapolku Trail: Kuntopolku Trail and the Palosenjärvi and Pahtajärvi Trails. There are several old hole traps, game running fences and boards with information on hunting along the trail. The trail is marked with poles that have hoof prints. The path eventually forms a ring at the end of the one-kilometre trail. You can return to Skierri along the same trail. There are also information boards along the trail describing old reindeer hunting methods and wild reindeer that were hunted to extinction. There are several remains of hunting pits along the Peurapolku Trail. They are protected by the Antiquities Act, which is why hikers must keep to the path.
Juhannuspolku Trail & Postipolku Trail, 1-2 km
You still see these trails advertised but actually, they have been superseded by a new trail network that has grown up following the development of the downhill ski resort in the Jyppyra area. Hence, check out the latest trail maps for the most recent information.
The Kuntopolku Trail (4 km)
This also starts from the Skierri yard between the two buildings. The trail has been marked with green marks. The first part of the trail goes along the same route as the path that leads tothe top of Jyppyrä Hill. The trail goes around the hilltop from the eastern side, and at the midway point it joins with the lit jogging track. The trail returns to Skierri along the same route as the Peurapolku Trail.
The Palosenjärvi Trail (9.5 km)
Again, this starts from the Skierri yard between the two buildings. The trail has been marked with brown marks. It circles around the Jyppyrävaara hilltop from the eastern side and goes across the upper circle of the lit jogging track and continues across Jyppyränselkä. On the slope of the Paljasselkä Fell, the trail branches off from the Pahtajärvi Trail and turns south towards the centre of Hetta. Lake Palosenjärvi remains on the eastern side of the trail. At the point where the trail meets the lit jogging track, it turns to the northeast. You can return to Skierri along the Peurapolku Trail. The entire trail has been marked with brown marks.
The Pahtajärvi Trail (18 km)
And again, this starts from the Skierri yard between the two buildings along the same route as the Kuntopolku, Palosenjärvi and Näkkälä Trails. The Pahtajärvi Trail has been marked with blue marks. The trail continues on Jyppyrä Hill across the lit jogging track towards the Paljasselkä Fell. At Sissanginselkä the Pahtajärvi Trail turns west and the trail to Näkkälä continues to the north. After the Närpistönjoki lean-to shelter, the Pahtajärvi Trail turns south towards Pahtajärvi.
The most rugged landscape along the trail is at Lake Pahtajärvi, where the lake is down in a canyon and the trail leads along the upper slopes on its east side. There are beautiful wetlands along the trail, where an abundance of Globe Flowers (Trollius europaeus) and the Wood Crane's-bills (Geranium sylvaticum) grow. Just before the village of Hetta, the Pahtajärvi Trail joins the lit jogging track along which you may return to Skierri. The last kilometre of the trail goes along the Peurapolku Trail. There are information boards or signposts in the branches of the Pahtajärvi trail. There are duckboards on the trail but despite that you will need waterproof hiking boots.
Lake Pahtajärvi is a long and narrow lake which flows through a steep gorge on the north side of Hetta. Although getting there involves either a 5km hike or a longer round-trip by skis, it is worth the effort to see the steep cliff walls on both side of the lake. During winter a skiing trail leads across the lake and during summer hikers can admire the area from Pahtajärvi Trail.
Services: Sissanki rental hut (Sissangin kota) which is located between Sissanginselkä and Paljässelkä. The hut can be rented for overnight stays otherwise it is locked. Närpistö lean-to shelter is located at the trail’s halfway point.
Sights: Lake Pahtajärvi, a long and narrow canyon lake.
The terrain in the Hetta area is ideal for orienteering. The area around Jyppyrä is the best place for beginners while the Ounastunturi area is challenging even for experienced orienteers that are in the best shape. There is a fixed orienteering course at Jyppyrä and evening races are organised there occasionally. Maps made for orienteering are sold by Fell Lapland Nature Centre Skierri and a new course is set every summer.
A new orienteering training course is also available at CAPE Lapland on the Hetta Huskies farm routes. Levi also hosts world-ranking ski orienteering events usualy held in Spring.