Bogs, easy or difficult to traverse?

The Hiker's Guide to Finland. Hiking in Finland. Crossing a bog.
Jouni Laaksonen 20.8.2018

What is the best term in English to refer to a wet piece of terrain? Is it bog, mire, swamp, marsh, peatland, or maybe just wetland?

And are there wetlands in your country? In Finland there are a lot, about 30% of land area. Does that mean Finland has a difficult terrain for a hiker? No.

If you are hiking along a marked trail, almost always the wet patches are equipped with duckboards. Walking on even wooden path is easy and totally dry.

I myself hike often also outside marked trails. When I’m hiking through a wilderness area in Lapland, I certainly will encounter more or less bogs. Navigating across them is not difficult, because Finnish topographic maps are of excellent quality, and they divide bogs simply and exactly into two categories: ‘easy to traverse’ and ‘difficult to traverse’.

Let’s see some pics and maps. (The map excerpts: data from the National Land Survey of Finland Topographic Database 08/2018.)



The Hiker's Guide to Finland. Hiking in Finland. Crossing a bog.


The purple arrow indicates where the picture is taken. We are in Urho Kekkonen National Park. The line of ++++ means duckboards. Beside duckboards there is an old reindeer fence. On this piece of map there are three different kinds of bogs (biologically speaking there are dozens, I’m sure, but let’s stick to only traversability now):

A. Treeless bog, difficult to traverse

B. Treeless bog, easy to traverse

C. tree-growing bog, easy to traverse


Easy to traverse



Now we are in Martinselkonen Nature Protection Area. The purple arrow again shows where the picture is taken: tree-growing bog, easy to traverse. Walking across a bog like this is no problem. Watertight boots are needed, but otherwise traversing is easy.


Difficult to traverse

The Hiker's Guide to Finland. Hiking in Finland. Crossing a bog.

The Hiker's Guide to Finland. Hiking in Finland. Crossing a bog.

Picture is taken from the bird watching tower (Lintutorni on map), towards a bog marked difficult to traverse. Do not attempt to cross bogs like this.


Winter changes everything



Half of every year Northern Finland is covered by ice and snow. That changes everything. Now also bogs marked ‘difficult to traverse’ are easy! Even ground, nice skiing.


How is it in your country? Are there bogs? If there are, how easily can they be interpreted from maps?

* * *

Next week I’ll either ponder maps some more, or then I’ll introduce you to a hiking skills competition.

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