Kuusamo is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature photographers. It is full of beautiful places in national parks, in the hills of Lapland and on the banks of rivers that roar wildly.
Here is your list of buckets for the most beautiful places!
There are no real mountains in Finland, but it is still far from flat! Finnish mini mountains are called fells (“vaara” or “tunturi in Finnish). One of the highest places in Kuusamo is Valtavaara, located close to the popular Ruka ski resort. An old fireman's hut at the top of Valtavaara offers the most spectacular views in all directions.
One of Finland's most popular trails, the 80 km Karhunkierros trail, crosses the top of Valtavaara en route to the final stop in Ruka. Every May, thousands of trail runners run through Valtavaara while competing on the NUTS Karhunkierros Trail Run, covering 30 to 160 km almost non-stop. Depending on the spring climate and snow conditions, your conquest is made under the hot sun, with test feet or through snow piles and puddles of swamp water. You just need to take your hat off to these adventurous athletes!
Valtavaara is a great place to visit all year. There is a 5 km snowshoe trail and a 6 km hiking trail from the parking lot closest to the top of Valtavaara and vice versa. The hut at the top acts as a hut for hikers and there are also some campfire spots along the trail. You can also see rare birds, such as the Bluetrail, flanked by reds, along the trail to Valtavaara.
The Konttainen fall is part of the fall range formed by Pyhävaara, Rukatunturi, Valtavaara, Konttainen and Kumpuvaara, remnants of the ancient Svekokarelid mountains. Only the hardest rock types at the foot of the mountains remain to this date. As the area's rocky bed is calciferous and the region's microclimate is extremely humid, the vegetation is surprisingly lush and versatile. The mix of northern and southern species is unique in Finland.
Konttainen is a popular spot for photographing sunrises and sunsets due to an easy, short 2 km hike to the top of the waterfall and, of course, due to the great views that can be admired from the top towards the Riisitunturi rivers and Kitka lakes.
The parking spot at the foot of Konttainen is also a popular spot for detecting and photographing Siberian Jays while feeding them manually.
Päähkänäkallio cliff in Oulanka national park
Finns tend to be very precise with names, but for some strange reason, they seem unable to decide what to call this cliff. Päähkänäkallio, Pähkänäkallio, Päähkänänkallio, Pähkänänkallio… However, the view from the cliff's edge is one of the most desirable spots in Lapland all year round. The winding river, with lush green banks and charms of untouched forests during the summer. The variable appearance of the trees along the river creates a great mosaic if the colors in the fall. The winter scenery along the river is a calming mix of different shades of white and gray.
The Päähkänäkallio area is a little difficult to access, unless you are prepared to drive along small forest roads or walk the 80 km long Karhunkierros trail. But this place is definitely worth visiting! There are no crates at the edge of the cliff and visitors are advised to stay away from the edge due to the crumbling rocky bed, so be careful!
"Pyhä" means sacred or holy, and Pyhävaara is known to have been a sacred place for the Sami people, the indigenous people of the north. Until the year 1830, a sacred stone called "sect" was located at the top of Pyhävaara. Pyhävaara consists of two peaks and, due to the vulnerable nature, access to the old Sami sites is allowed only at the lowest peak in Pikku-Pyhävaara.
Pyhävaara is located close to the Ruka Ski Station and is a popular place for daytime hiking for guests all year round. A popular ski slope runs through the peak of Pikku-Pyhävaara. Keep in mind, however, that Finns are born with skis (at least in Lapland), so we suggest trying some easier trails before trying to conquer Pyhävaara. You can also consider ski wheels to admire snow-capped trees, as Pyhävaara can be accessed with electric bikes during the winter.
Fast Myllykoski in Oulanka National Park
The Kitka River, in the Oulanka National Park, has several excellent places to admire the white waters. Myllykoski is one of the most popular places due to an easy 1 km walk to the riverside, close to the old mill. Myllykoski is also located along the Pieni Karhunkierros Trail, one of the most popular trails in Kuusamo. This place is so popular that you don't even need snowshoes to access it during the winter. And due to its popularity, it tends to get a little crowded between June and August.
Part of the popularity is the possibility of getting very close to the water on the wooden deck next to the mill and on the suspension bridge, taking hikers on the fast. If you plan to walk along the 12 km long Pieni Karhunkierros trail, you must cross four suspension bridges. Bridges are well maintained and safe to cross, but they can cause chills if you are afraid of heights.
Värikallio rock paintings in Hossa National Park
Hossa is located in southern Kuusamo, just over an hour's drive from Ruka village. Värikallio consists of 60 different rock paintings and is the largest collection of prehistoric rock paintings in Finland. The cliff is a steep wall that rises from Lake Somerjärvi and the paintings must have been done by boat or walking on ice during the winter. Rock paintings are approx. 3500-4500 years.
We can only guess at the reasons that ancient people had for creating cave paintings in Värikallio. Hossa used to be a junction for water routes, so the paintings could have been used to mark a route or describe events. The images in the cave paintings can also be linked to hunting magic and the painted rock walls may also have functioned as places of worship for the shamanic cult. The images may also have been painted to ensure fertility, as many of the human figures depicted in Värikallio may be women, some of them in labor.
Värikallio's rock paintings are different from other prehistoric paintings in Finland, as the small stick-like moose figures are not known elsewhere, and the human figure with a triangle-shaped head, eyes and nose is only. The lack of pictures of boats is also exceptional. All images found in Finland, dating from the Stone Age, have been painted (there are no drawings etched in stone). Red and yellow ocher – obtained by heating clay containing iron – was used as a dye and blood, grease or egg yolk as the mixing agent.
Lake Ikkunalampi in the Riisitunturi National Park
One of the most enchanting summer views in Riisitunturi is Lake Ikkunalampi, which appears to be hanging from the edge of the hill. It is an infinite pool created by nature at the edge of a swamp. Normally, swamps are formed in natural depressions where water accumulates, providing a growth platform for peat. The abundant precipitation and the fine soil of the Riisitunturi area allow the swamps to appear even on steep slopes. The western slopes of Riisitunturi are covered by the most impressive in Finland and also by some of the steepest swamps in the world. In addition to its swamps, Riisitunturi is also a popular place to photograph slowly loaded trees during the winter.
Kiutaköngäs is one of the most famous white waters in Finland, mainly due to its size and length and the impressive red rock wall at the bottom of the rapids. Short, well-marked trail leads to the roaring stream. The spring flood of the Oulanka River is a remarkable sight. During winter, freezing temperatures create an incredible bridge of snow and ice on the top of the mountain.