Leaving busy Rovaniemi behind, it wasn’t long before the road was the only thing slicing through the flat, snowy-white evergreen forests towering over on either side. Occasionally, a house would appear with its brightly painted exterior and a thin plume of smoke rising from the chimney. Once we’d arrived at our cozy log cabin in Luosto, part of Pyhä-Luosto National Park, our remaining senses absorbed and enhanced what our eyes had already seen. Snowshoeing in Luosto Finland was a must. It would be the best way to get outdoors, trek into the forest, and be totally connected to the surrounding winter wilderness.
Snowshoeing in Luosto Finland and
Its Wonderful Winter Wilderness
While planning a trip to Finnish Lapland, our itinerary included 2 days in Luosto, Finland just over an hour’s drive from Rovaniemi. Pyhä-Luosto National Park is the highlight of the area. After spending the last several days snowmobiling and dog sledding, our top priority was to enjoy the forest on foot. Well, that and getting ample time in the sauna in our log cabin. 😉
We’d earn our sauna time on snowshoes and enlisted a guide from Kairankutsu- Call of the Wild to help.
Our guide, Kristiina, met us at the log cabin. She came prepared with boots, arctic overalls, snowshoes, and poles. After a few pointers about walking in snowshoes, we set off directly into the forest from trails just near the log cabin.
It was a thrill to realize it was just us 2 and the guide! We would be able to stop, ask questions and customize our time. The Finns have a deep connection with and respect for their natural environment. Enjoying the outdoors is part of everyday life regardless of the season. We knew we were with an expert.
So, as we trekked into the forest, the guide started by sharing a family story. Her relatives in previous generations had helped map the Luosto, and larger, Lapland area. Personally, I’m fascinated with how maps were first drawn without any type of birds-eye view.
She explained that while walking through the unchartered wilderness, mappers would tap on trees and wait for sounds, like a dog’s bark. Then, they’d follow the sound to (hopefully) a nearby house and ask the owner to draw out what they knew of the area. Listening to the story and looking around at the endless forest, I couldn’t even imagine how complex of a task or even the detailed knowledge of the landscape you’d need to have for a project like this!
We had snowshoed well into the forest and could no longer see our log cabin or where we’d entered. The silence of the winter forest made my ears ring. White covered the tallest pine and spruce trees down to the tiniest blueberry waiting to surprise a hungry reindeer pushing the snow aside in search of food.
The walk took us gradually uphill, all while the snowshoes crunched and gripped the terrain underneath. With snowshoes, you don’t need to stay on the path. You can move into the forest for a more intimate experience. Unlike a snowmobile, you’re seeing the forest details as you take the time to let everything fill your senses.
The air felt fresh and smelled of evergreen. Our guide pointed out the icy-flecked lichen dangling from the tree branches. She explained it’s a sign of how pure the air really is, as well as easy reindeer food because it’s not buried by the snow.
We talked about the animal tracks in different shapes and sizes that trailed off in all directions across the fresh snow. Finnish Lapland has the biggest rabbits on the planet, which change from brown in the summer to white in the winter. We didn’t see any. But, wherever the rabbits were headed, a fox seemed to always be not far behind!
Different types of birds also live in the forest, which was a surprise thinking that most birds fly to warmer climates in winter. Amazingly, at night, one of the bigger birds dives down into the snow and burrows in for warmth! It uses its tail feathers to dust over the openings. Bears will also hibernate in a mound of snow that looks like an igloo. Our guide explained how to look for a hole in the mound of snow with some iciness next to it. The iciness just might be a bear’s breathing from within. Lesson learned. Don’t snowshoe through dome-shaped mounds of snow.
More than an hour had passed and we had slowly climbed our way through the forest and up to the top of a hill. From this spot, we could look out over the National Park. From the top-down, the evergreen trees looked perfectly painted white. The swamp area in the distance was frozen solid giving no hint of the cloudberries waiting to be picked next summer. To the east, you could even see the Russian border on a clear day.
We savored the spectacular view while sipping hot blackcurrant juice from a thermos. My lungs felt clear and my body pulsed from the workout. Even now, I don’t know if I’ll ever see a winter forest as beautiful as from the top of that hill in Luosto.
After a while, we descended down the hill. We snowshoed our way silently for longer stretches this time, as we knew we’d soon be back to the log cabin. Through the trees, the late afternoon light turned the sky pink and we could see it through clearings in the icy tree branches. I wondered whether it just might be a perfect night for spotting the northern lights.
Looking around at the wild natural beauty, it’s easy to understand why a love of wilderness figures prominently in Finnish culture. I was so grateful our guide, Kristiina, shared her passion and knowledge about the forest. Getting to experience that slowly on snowshoes, surrounded by a quiet winter forest, nourished my own appreciation and respect for the environment, too.
Planning a Visit to Luosto, Finland
You’ll need to rent a car or take the bus to get to Luosto from Rovaniemi. The bus runs on a set schedule. You’ll have more flexibility arriving to and departing from Luosto in your own car.
Luosto is a tiny village with only a couple hundred residents. You won’t find a town center, but rather a remote area in the Finnish wilderness. During your visit, you can go downhill skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and visit nearby reindeer farms. The Visit Luosto website is a great tool for researching the area.
We had such a cozy stay at the Lapland Hotel Luostotunturi. We did not stay in the main hotel building, but rather one of their log cabins a bit further off. Each log cabin has its own fireplace, sauna, and mini-kitchen. They are perfect for a relaxing stay on the edge of the forest.
The main hotel building has other amenities like a spa, a pool, and several dining options. Food orders can also be brought back to the log cabins.
As with Rovaniemi, we looked for small tour operators and private guides for snowshoeing. Our guide, Kristiina, from Kairankutsu-Call of the Wilderness was fantastic. It was simple to book a tour via email with this family-run tour company. They’ll provide whatever gear is necessary for the activity and to guard against the Arctic cold. Having just us 2 and the guide made for such a personal and special experience.
Have you been snowshoeing? Would you like to go snowshoeing in Luosto, Finland?
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