The Hetta- Pallas
The 55-km (34-mi) Hetta-Pallas Winter Trail is the Finnish section of the 800-km (500-mi) pan- Scandinavian Nordkalottleden Trail. The Trail passes through the Pallas- Yllastunturi National Park in Lapland, an area of fast-flowing rivers, turquoise lakes, lush forests and glacier- topped mountains. It is not an overly demanding trail for the experienced cross-country skier, as it follows mostly the lower slopes, apart from one ravine section where it travels above the tree-line. Its very simplicity adds to the hypnotic high, familiar to long distance skiers, and for a sense of true wilderness in all its luminous and silent beauty, it is hard to beat.
As Finland has common access to all its land enshrined in law, the intrepid skier is free to ski in any wilderness or forest area. However, the trail itself is well maintained and well marked and the best advice is to follow the signs. ‘Wilderness huts’ at manageable intervals are available to travellers. These wood cabins are basic and must be shared, though in winter they are rarely over-used and they’re free.
In summer, the Hetta-Pallas Hiking Trail covers roughly the same route, though at higher altitudes, as the winter trails are too wet to be hiked in summer. The Trail goes through a ravishingly beautiful landscape of birch-clothed fell highlands and steep-sided ravines but, while the area is utterly wild, the trek can easily be undertaken by any reasonably fit and eager walker. The same wilderness huts are available in summer, though they can get crowded at the most popular times, so it is always wise to take a tent. In this land of the midnight sun, you can, of course, hike all night and find a place to rest in the morning.
On skis or snowshoes in winter or on foot in the summer months
WHEN TO GO:
winter trail – mid-February to end April; Summer hiking – late June to end September.
TIME IT TAKES:
Hiking the trail can be completed in four days; skiing, comfortably, in three days.
Fell Lapland Nature Centre.