Jouni Laaksonen 21.1.2019
All you need to know about hiking in Finland in one book!
(Addition in summer 2019: This blog post was written in January 2019, so the text below points to a book that is going to be published in future. The book has 304 pages and it was published in June 2019! See more information, index, example pages, and where to buy it on the Books page. And see book reviews.)
I started this blog in December 2017 both 1) to promote hiking in Finland in general, for Finland is a fantastic country for hiking, trekking, backpacking, and 2) to promote my guidebook-to-be on this very subject. Back then (see Why a blog) I thought the name of the book would be The Hiker’s Guide to Finland or something like that.
However, my publisher, Karttakeskus, said that’s too long and cumbersome a name. They wanted the name to be simply Hiking in Finland. I first argued against this, for there has been a blog on that name for several years, hikinginfinland.com, but the publisher argued back that this is such a general expression that no one can own it.
And, well, when I checked around a bit, I noticed that for example the horn of plenty for a hiker in Finland, nationalparks.fi, has a subpage named Hiking in Finland as well. Also sites introducing tourism in Finland use that very title word to word.
In the end I consented, on one condition: I wanted to add a subtitle. And so the book became Hiking in Finland – Day Trips and Backpacking Expeditions.
This is the cover of my guidebook Hiking in Finland. The book will be published in April 2019.
Contents of the book
The book has three major parts:
- Hiking skills in Finland
- Nature and history
- Hiking destinations.
1) The first part includes everything from peculiarities in Finnish hiking culture (like Everyman’s Rights, clean drinking water, thousands of campfire sites and hundreds of open wilderness huts, and how we Finns tend to hike), to seasons, and what’s different in maps and coordinates and navigating in Finland, and what’s important about clothes and gear here up north, and so on.
Day hiking is the most popular way of hiking in Finland, as in every part of the world, I believe. Walking along a marked trail, surrounded by beautiful scenery, is just so easy, and so much fun. A very Finnish way of hiking is to enjoy the lunch by campfire. Finland is a land of forests and there are thousands of campfire sites where the state of Finland provides firewood.
However, also these pics are essential to Finnish hiking culture. Everyman’s Right guarantees you can walk (or ski) almost wherever you want. You don’t have to stick to trails – though in popular areas it sure is recommended to stick to trails, to not cause erosion. On the pic left we are on a seven day backpacking tour in Hammastunturi Wilderness Area. We saw other hikers only on one wilderness hut, no one anywhere else. I’m trying to say that there are vast wilderness areas in Lapland where there are not many people around, if any. There you can choose your own route with a clear conscience. We carried everything we needed during the week in our backpacks – except water. In Lapland it is customary to fill your water bottle from springs, streams, rivers and even lakes.
Main focus is in walking, but also canoeing and to smaller degree bicycle tours are discussed. Winter hiking (read skiing) is thoroughly discussed. Also Hiking with children is a long chapter.
Finland is a land of lakes: there are 188 000 lakes in Finland (yep, they have been counted). Paddling is a great way to explore the lakes and rivers. Here we are canoeing in Kolovesi NP.
Finland has four distinctive seasons. Summer is hot (well, maybe not by your standards…), autumn is colourful, winter is snowy and spring is full of life and green. Hiking does not stop with the first snowfalls of the winter. On the contrary, winter is very good time for hiking, if you know how to ski. Skiing along maintained ski tracks is easy (pic from Kiilopää, Urho Kekkonen NP), but when you head out to large wilderness areas, outside any tracks, you truly feel you are on your own (pic from Muotkatunturi Wilderness Area).
Hiking with children is fun. They often note different things than adults, and they know how to be there right from the beginning. Hiking with kids is also a question of continuing your beloved hobby when you get own kids. And it’s also a question of raising your children to respect and love nature.
2) In the second part I describe how the Ice Age formed Finnish bedrock, esker systems, giant’s kettles and so on. Also I tell what common animals and plants you can expect to see, and I try to give advice how to see rarer flowers, birds etc.
Eskers, or maybe you call them ridges, are one type of formations the Ice Age created. When the ice masses were finally melting away, the sand that was locked into the ice, started to run along the melting water rivers, and sank to the bottom of the river. When a melting water river ran through a tunnel under the ice sheet, the formation of sand became steep.
A very interesting chapter (in my humble opinion) is called Interesting history along the trails. Even if you are hiking in a remote wilderness area that looks like no one has ever set his/her foot here, you will find evidence our forefathers lived or moved about also there. You may encounter many millennia old deer hunting potholes or rock paintings, or sacred seita rocks, or you may see a hollow depression which in fact is a former tar burning pit. Or you may see a very old ax mark on the bark of an ancient pine, and another one, too, and then you realize you are walking on a path that was formed already hundreds of years ago. And so on.
Ancient history can be fascinating. On left a deer hunting pothole in Lemmenjoki NP. The pothole was dug many millennia ago and it was steep and deep back then, probably with sharpened stakes on the bottom, and camouflaged. On right rock paintings at Astuvansalmi, painted several millennia ago.
3) In the third part I have selected 16 top hiking destinations in Finland. Well, that is naturally a question of taste, but this is my selection. I have hiked comprehensively in every one of Finland’s 40 national parks, in every one of Finland’s 12 wilderness areas, and in hundreds of other very best hiking destinations in our country. These are the best ones I want to introduce for a guest from abroad. If you start to travel to Finland frequently, or live here, you will find hundreds of great destinations more.
Two examples on day hiking in Southern Finland. On left: I needed some fresh photos from Nuuksio NP for the book. This one probably won’t make it to the book, but I had so fun when taking this pic I wanted to share it here. It was a hot summer day, and I bought an ice cream from Haukkalampi café at Nuuksio. I haven’t often eaten ice cream while walking along a hiking trail. Have to do that more often! 🙂 On right we are having a lunch break along the great Getabergen nature trail in Åland.
Two examples on multi-day hiking in Lapland. On left we are in Urho Kekkonen NP, and on right my friend is fishing, catching arctic char in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area.
These hiking destinations are described in depth: what kind of nature and landscapes, how about the history of the area, and how to get there? Then the marked trails are described, and if the area is large, also good routes for a longer off-trail backpacking expedition are suggested. There will be good topographic maps in the book.
I have paid attention to showing both great day trails and fabulous multi-day trails, and also giving suggestions on where to head if you want hike outside trails. There are destinations both from far north, near Helsinki in south, and everywhere in between.
In addition to introducing the trails by words, color photos and good maps, I have also created a GPX track of each trail and route suggestion I have described. There will be a QR code in the book that takes you straight to the web page where the GPX tracks and waypoints are situated.
Here I am testing smartphone map application and GPX file at Pallas-Yllästunturi NP. Works fine!
I counted the tracks and waypoints, and there seem to be well over 100 GPX tracks and over 350 waypoints. These waypoints are given both in the book (in WGS84 coordinate format), and also in the same file as the GPX tracks.
Oh, there would be so much to write about hiking in Finland, and photos to share, but it’s not possible on one blog post. Which is why I wrote a 250 page guidebook on this subject. 🙂
I wrote the book during 2017 and 2018, in my not-so-fluent English. In autumn 2018 a professional translator proofread and corrected the text, and right now the manuscript and my hundreds of photo suggestions are in the hands of a graphic artist.
I’m eagerly waiting to get the layout to my hands for proofreading. It’s always a wonderful moment to see for the first time how the text and photos and maps are combined together to a guidebook!
Guidebook Hiking in Finland will be published in May 2019, both as printed and as e-book. When I know a more specific date, I’ll add that here. (The book was published in June 2019.)
The book will be sold in many internet book shops internationally. And at least in Finland also in normal book shops and nature centres etc. See Books page.
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Next week I will tell what animal tracks we have seen in the very nearhood of our house during this winter so far, during our short ski tours with our daughters.