Trails on the shores of Lake Saimaa
Hiking trails are everywhere in Saimaa in Finnish Lakeland. The trails wind around striking and diverse terrain, through the boreal forests and by the shores Saimaa’s lakes, making it an ideal hiking area. In amongst the beautiful scenery when hiking in Finland, you’ll also see the tell-tale marks left by the Ice Age, from exposed bedrock and eskers leaping up out of the water, to the old sea shorelines high up in the hills.
When hiking in Finland, be the distance long or short, the journey is its own reward. You can choose what’s right for you; do you want to follow the marked and signposted routes or go off the trail and enjoy the right in Finland to roam where you please? In either case, maps are available at the local tourist information centres, as is local information such as for fishing and for Everyman’s Rights. Along the routes and dotted among the many lake islands are also maintained fireplaces and lean-to shelters known as “laavus”, each with its own character but generally with its own stock of firewood and outdoor toilet.
Lake Saimaa is the biggest lake in Finland and is in the biggest lake district in Europe. As a freshwater lake, the water is clean enough to drink, although of course it’s recommend that you purify it first. The water sparkles in the sun and reflects a blue cloudless sky. Hidden in the waves or camouflaged on a rock, you might just see a glimpse of the critically endangered Saimaa ringed seal.
When hiking in Finland, immense green forests hide many northern species of plants, animals and birds and the forest floor is blanketed in soft pine needles and moss that absorb the noise of your footsteps and cushion your stride. You’ll hear the morning chorus of birdsong around you and the wind through the leaves. You often catch tentative sights of the water flashing mischievously between the pine and birch trees and the sprawling system of hiking routes in Saimaa offers you your own choice of challenging climbs or leisurely strolls by the shoreline.
Each season of hiking in Finland is different. In the spring, the world leaps to life after its sleep through the winter, exploding into greens and blues in just a few short weeks. In the summer, the new growth of the forest shades the ground beneath it offering respite from the sun, and in the autumn a great symphony of reds and golds covers the landscape. Of course, winter calls for skis and snowshoes, particularly off-trail!
The national parks in particular are known for their unforgettable scenic beauty. Check out the national parks of Linnansaari, Kolovesi and Repovesi!