Karhunkierros in Kuusamo is also known as Bear's Trail or Bear's Ring is the most popular hiking route in Finland. The route takes you the gorgeous national sceneries in Kuusamo and Salla region. The routes will take you to the gorgeous sceneries of Oulanka National park. During the trail you can admire the swirling rivers and steep cliff sides and canyons. The trails are marked with orange paint in nature wilderness so it's easy to navigate. The longer track of Bear's Trail is 82 kilometers long, and generally takes 3-7 days to complete depending on your personal condition. The trail follows the riversides and goes into the wilderness where there are no traces of mankind.
Karhunkierros lasts approximately about 3-7 days and is 82 kilometers long. Before you embark on this trek, you should have some basic experience in hiking. The trails height differences and challenging paths should be noted. During your hike, there might be surprising weather conditions such as hailstorm or snow fall even in the beginning of summer. The best time to hike in Karhunkierros and Oulanka National Park is in June to October. You should go for the hike when there is no snow in the ground, unless you want to go trekking with skiis.
If the hike for 82 kilometers sounds too challenging, you can choose the shorter track called Shorter Bear's Trail. The shorter trail is 12 kilometers long, and it will take 4-6 hours to complete. This shorter track shows the best sides of the national park in a more concentrated form. This is one of the most popular tracks in Finland. There are many stopping places along the trails where you can enjoy your lunch and just relax in the great outdoors.
The shorter Karhunkierros is suitable for beginners and families with it's lovely scenery and easy trails. There are many stopping places along the trails. The best time to hike is in summer time, or in the beginning of autumn when the weather is calm and warm.
Challenges in Oulanka National Park
Oulanka National Park's amazing landscapes and sceneries include a lot of variation. These variations include swamps, ancient forests, rocky pathways and steep cliffsides. Therefore it is recommended to take good hiking boots to Oulanka. The boots should be at least ankle-high, preferably even higher to protect the feet from injuries and wet terrain. Also remember to take Gore-tex or other protective layer to shield you from weather conditions. The protective layer protects you from rain and snowfall, but is breathable. One good addition to your hiking gear is emergency shelter such as tent, or tarps which can be easily planted in the ground.
You can utilize the Oulanka trails in many ways during different seasons. For example, you can start skiing in the trails or move around with snowshoes. You can also travel by bike. With bikes, the traveling is more faster and more challenging due to uphills and tight curves of the trails in Oulanka National Park. You can see the trails from the link below.
Mainly the trails are easy to walk but there might be challenging parts especially when crossing rivers and walking uphill. The rivers booming sounds and steep hills bring an nice addition to the beautiful scenery of the National Park. The trails are marked with a orange paint so they are easy to spot in summer and winter time.
Weather around Kuusamo
The climate in Kuusamo region is more continental than in rest of Finland. Due to this, snow stays on the ground for approximately 200 days per year. This is something what should be considered when planning the trip. In Kuusamo region the highest snow amount in the ground is between February and March. The snow amount can rise up to 70-80 cm during this period. Weather can drop to -25 degrees in winter time. In winter time, the cold fronts coming from Siberia and east can bring snowfalls, or even extreme frost to the area. Please check the weather forecasts before heading out to the wilderness.
During summer, in June-July the weather condition is great as sun shines 24 hours a day. Travellers should be prepared to surprising weather conditions in spring time and in autumn time. You can prepare for surprising weather conditions by bringing extra wool shirts and longjohns to keep you warm and during summertime, keep extra rain poncho with you.
Services in Kuusamo
From Kuusamo region you can find services for every situation. You can get traveling and trekking information from service center Karhuntassu. They have knowledge on the condition of the trails, weather forecasts and you can also buy maps from the service center. For your upcoming hike, you can ask what trails and roads you should use. There are fishing permits also available so you can practice your fishing in the National Park. In the case of emergency, the medical center in Kuusamo will be the primary treatment location. Local companies and personnel will function as the first responders in emergencies.
Restaurants in Kuusamo and Ruka
Near the starting point in Kuusamo, you can find supply stores, restaurants and grocery stores where hikers and travellers can buy food and other necessities for the trip. Restaurants in Ruka serve even most selective taste, as there are almost 30 restaurant and bars near the ski center Ruka. After a challenging hike, you can reward yourself by enjoying a quality meal in one of the local restaurants. During winter time, there are few cafés along the ski tracks which serve hot chocolate and coffee for thirsty skiers.
There's a colourful nightlife in Kuusamo and Ruka especially during winter season. Numerous nightclubs and karaoke bars entertain the travellers during the night. If you are skiing or snowboarding in Ruka Ski Center, you can enjoy the after ski-bars as well. In the Oulanka National Park or along the trails of Karhunkierros, there are no restaurants.
How to reach Kuusamo?
Easiest way to reach Kuusamo is by taking a bus from southern Finland or by personal car through Kuopio. The drive from Helsinki to Kuusamo is about 9,5 hours so it's recommended to stay overnight in the halfway. You can also take a train from Helsinki to Kuopio or Oulu and travel the rest of the distance by car. Kuusamo is about 3 hours away from Oulu. You can fly from Helsinki to Rovaniemi or Oulu. The flight lasts about 1,5 hours and the drive from Rovaniemi is 3 hours to Kuusamo.
The distance from Kuusamo to the starting point of the trails is covered quite rapidly with a taxi or bus. You can share the taxi with a larger group so divide the costs. Easiest way is to travel by a personal car. Then you can decide your own timetable.
Gofinland has over 780 cottages and other accommodation possibilities in Kuusamo. We have real wilderness cottages near the Oulanka National Park, but also luxurious cottages in central Kuusamo. The most popular trails are quite close to our cottages. You can check out the possibilities from below!