Karhunkierros Hiking Trail – Oulanka National Park Finland

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Karhunkierros Trail is one of the most spectacular and therefore famous hiking trails in Finland. Its smaller sister is the Small Karhunkierros (Small bear trail) also in Oulanka National Park. The trailheads are between 2-3 hours away from Rovaniemi.

If you want to read more practical advice about hiking the Karhunkierros, CHECK THIS POST!

Karhunkierros Day 1

I’ve walked the 82 km long Karhunkierros (a.k.a. bear trail) in the east of Finland a couple of weeks ago. It was on my bucket list since 2012, the first time I set afoot to Oulanka National Park.

It’s one of the most popular hikes in the country. The first day was a half-day, leaving from the northern trailhead, Hautajärvi, around 3 pm.

I’ve walked 15km along Savinajoki river, across mires (there was still some cloudberry ), and saw Rupakivi as well.

I’ve spent the night at Savilampi open wilderness hut – a cabin where you can sleep for free with your own gear. I was a bit worried if not bringing a tent was a mistake, but luckily every night I had a place in the free cabins and didn’t even need to sleep in the lean-to shelters.

Karhunkierros Day 2

I left early to check out Oulanka Canyon. Steep cliffs and rushing fresh river water below.

After the detour, headed from Salvilampi to Taivalköngäs. A really magical location. Dozens of people were tenting on the campground even around 11 am. After passing them, I admired the rapids and the hanging bridges.

The next longer stop was a vegan burger at Kiutaköngäs – after that, I’ve checked again the well-known rapids there and continued my way.

It’s still hard to pick the best place from the trail, but I think it was there (the pic you see first). I’ve been sitting on the top of that cliff for an hour. And at a nearby place for like thirty minutes. It was hard to leave such gorgeous spots.

I was thinking to sleep in Ansakämppä, but there were quite many people there, so headed further. After passing a hill, I arrived at my happy place to Jussinkämppä wilderness hut. You can read more about Finnish wilderness huts and other free accommodation options here.

I loved bathing in the evening sun. Many people were cooking their meals on campfires, while some took a plunge into the lake. I did too.

I walked altogether about 30km this day. The last 7 were a bit too much with this amount of gear, but I didn’t regret it.

Karhunkierros Day 3

I was very tempted to stay one full day at Jussinkämppä. It really seemed like the best hut on Karhunkierros and I should definitely visit it again.

That was the day when I realized my power bank is busted, and my phone will run out of battery in the evening (plus quite rainy and cold weather will be coming in two days), so I decided to walk further.

After another hill, I was next to the Kiutajoki river. Really pleasant places with many laavus and wild berries all around. I should bring the kids here some sunny day. ☺️

The next section was very well known from the #pienikarhunkierros (the small bear circuit). I spent time admiring the river from the cliffs and had a day nap at Jyrävä. There is a small waterfall-ish rapid there.

After a few more kilometers, I bid my goodbye to the national park. It was time to cross the mires and find the huts at Porontimajoki.

Basically, I’ve been walking with the same division of the trail with a couple of other people, although we didn’t talk much. Yeah, that’s so Finnish. However, in the evening in the hut, I mentioned that my phone is out of battery, and someone immediately offered their power bank (thanks once again!), so I could take pictures on the next day too.

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