The legendary Karhunkierros Trail (also know as The Bear's Trail or The Bear's Ring) is Finland's most popular hiking trail. This trail is a bucketlist experience that showcases the unique nature and stunning views of Oulanka National Park by the Arctic Circle.
Karhunkierros is a 82 km long hiking trail starting from Hautajärvi (Salla) through Oulanka National Park to the center of Ruka, Kuusamo. Along the way you will see the foaming rapids and falls of Kitka river, the peacefully flowing stream of Oulanka river, the silent pine forests and the lush water meadows of Oulanka and the breath-taking fell tops of Konttainen and Valtavaara. Oulanka is also home for many rare species you might see along your hike.
For the whole trail, it is recommended to reserve 4-7 days for hiking depending on hiker's experience. Along the way there are several open wilderness huts, lean-to shelters and camping sites where to stay the nights. See more detailed info about the services here.
Open wilderness huts along the way:
Starting from Ristikallio parking area, open wilderness huts along the way in Ristikallio-Taivalköngäs:
Rest stopsOulanka Visitor Centre in Oulanka National Park
- See detailed instructions and safety notes in nationaparks.fi/karhunkierros.
- Karhunkierros trail is marked with orange paint marks on trees. There are also signposts every 1 km assinging the distance to the starting point and end point (Hautajärvi and Ruka).
- The areas ground waters - in lakes and rivers - should be filtered or boiled before drinking, as the water's quality changes from place to place. We recommend that visitors fill water bottles at customer service points. Drinking water from rivers and lakes is at your own risk.
Tips and hints
Karhunkierros has several route alternatives, so you can hike parts of it as day-trips as well, or start the hike from Ristikallio instead of Hautajärvi (10 km shorter in total).
- Detailed trail route descriptions can be read in nationalparks.fi/karhunkierros.
- In Oulanka National Park and on Karhunkierros Trail each visitor is responsible for the waste that accumulates during his/her stay. Karhunkierros Hiking Trail has three recycling points. Visitors can recycle for example glass and metal at these points as well as hazardous waste such as batteries.
- Visitors are asked to burn paper and cardboard at campfire sites and to place organic waste in dry toilets.
To Hautajärvi (the northern starting/end point) by car:
Napapiiri Arctic Circle at Karhunkierros in Salla in Hautajärvi village (Hautajärventie 414):
To reach the northern starting point for the Karhunkierros Trail from Salla, take road 950 from Salla towards Kuusamo and drive for 41 km.
If approaching from Kuusamo, take the E63/5 north (Kemijärventie) and drive for 36 km, then turn right towards Salla (road 950). After 33 km, turn right, and after one kilometre, you'll see the visitor centre by the road on the right.
To Ruka (the southern end/starting point) by car:
Ruka info in Ruka Ski Resort (Rukatunturintie 9):
To get from Salla to Ruka, first drive to the end of road 950 (77 km) and then turn left onto the E63. After 10.5 km, turn left again onto Rukatunturintie (at S-market) and continue for 2.3 km. Then turn left towards Ruka's central square. After less than a kilometre, there is a parking area on the left. The starting/ending point for the Karhunkierros Trail is located behind Piste, a local restaurant.
From Kuusamo, take the E63 and drive for 25 km, until you turn right to Rukatunturintie. For the rest of the way, please see above.
More instructions on how to arrive to Ruka, see ruka.fi
Information on Directions of Karhunkierros on Nationalparks.fi.
Author’s map recommendations
- Sturdy hiking boots and clothes according the weather
- Take along food and drinking water
- First-aid kit
- The open wilderness huts along the trail are often full during peak season, so a tent and sleeping bag are good to have with.
- More instructions on what to pack for hiking trip in Finland, see nationalparks.fi.
- 12 Waypoints
- 12 Waypoints