At the end of the long Finnish arm, in the northwest corner of the country, lies the small village of Kilpisjärvi. Here, nestled between the fells and the lake, near Finland’s border with Norway and Sweden, Old Man Winter’s grip is strong. Offering skiing possibilities well over half of the year, Kilpisjärvi is a perfect escape for Skinbased skiers.
Whether you are in need of an early-season winter fix, or are trying to avoid the summer heat as long as possible, chances are that you will find your snowy relief here. If you enjoy fun afternoon romps for good views, or want a challenging week-long trip to the country’s tallest point, Kilpisjärvi has you covered. Below you will find some of the best Skinbased adventures the area has to offer.
Ice Fishing on Kilpisjärvi Lake
For those who enjoy the sport of ice fishing, what better way to access those top fishing spots than with Skinbased skishoes? Kilpisjarvi Lake is a great ice fishing destination, and is renowned for its Arctic char and grayling. The best time of year for ice fishing there is normally around the end of February, as that is when some of the biggest fish are often caught. So, sharpen your drill, pack your fishing equipment, grab your snow trekkers, and head north for a chance to make some special catches!
A wonderful half-day tour for most, Pikku-Malla is a fun setting to get familiar with the XC-downhill aspect of Skinbased skiing. The tour begins in the lowlands, by crossing a stream and passing by some beautiful, unfrozen rapids. Once on the other side of the water, the steep craggy walls directly ahead will force you to turn and head north. Eventually, the slope angle will mellow and the big, broad, and open northside of Pikku-Malla will begin to spread out before you.
Choose your own adventure as you traverse, herringbone, or sidestep your way up the slope, eventually wrapping your way around and to the summit. Splendid views of Kilpisjärvi Lake and the mountains of Norway are your reward. After a warm drink on the summit comes the fun part - the descent! Why not try some telemark turns on the way down the hill? There are many ways down from Pikku-Malla, so simply take the line that feels the best for you and your abilities, and you’ll be back at the stream crossing before you know it.
The Three-Country Cairn is a unique landmark in the Kilpisjärvi area. The world's northernmost tripoint, it is at this spot where the borders of Finland, Sweden, and Norway all meet. Accessible in the wintertime by skis, this outing makes for a fun and full Skinbased skiing day trip. Leaving from the village, there is a marked ski trail loop that travels nearly all the way to the Three-Country Cairn and back again.
The longer and more challenging half of the journey travels mostly overland, passing through open, rolling terrain, involving a few moderate, yet substantial, climbs and descents. The second half of the journey is often easier, traveling mostly along the Kilpsijärvi Lake shore. Mixing variable terrain and the frequently wind-blown hardpack of the first half with the open flats and sometimes deep snows of the lake, make the journey ideally suited to the versatile XCD BCs.
Ready to leave civilization behind for a week? For those looking for a more ambitious adventure, the 100+km round trip from Kilpisjärvi to Halti, on which Finland’s tallest point is located, is sure to fit the bill. This journey will wind you between imposing fells, their black rock standing out in stark contrast to the white of the snow, have you breaking trail across frozen lakes with your KARs or XCD BCs, and feeling small as you stare across open vistas admiring true wilderness.
The marked winter excursion route has open huts frequently along the way, which are good for having a warm drink or even overnight stays. Tackling this trip in the depths of winter is not to be taken lightly. The temperatures are often low, the natural light scarce, and other skiers nearly non-existent. Consider going in April for warmer temperatures, more light, and a few extra people to share the route with.
If you made it Halti and still aren’t ready to go home, you don’t have to! For the ultimate adventurer, there is the Nordkalottaruta (Kalottireitti in Finnish), or the Arctic Trail. This 800 km long trail weaves its way along the border areas between Sweden, Norway, and Finland. The route often runs along and connects to other popular nature routes including Sweden’s Kungsleden and Finland’s Kilpisjärvi to Halti route. For a special few, completing this route in a single journey will be a lifetime achievement. For many others, the joy of skiing one section per year is an adventure that can last decades.
If this article has piqued your interest, there are many great sources to find more information in the Kilpisjärvi area. We recommend starting with Kilpisjärvi National Park Visitor Center’s website. Now that you know what adventures await, it’s time to pack your sled, grab your Skinbased skis or sliding snowshoes, and start the journey to Lapland!