Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area, mountain biking route
Altitude difference, m
Total Ascent, m
Longest decent, m
Route descriptionKaldoaivi is the largest wilderness area in Finland, located on the areas of Inari, Utsjoki and Norway. The landscapes of Kaldoaivi vary from steep and deep river valleys to gently sloping fells and swamp areas. The area is also rich in lakes, rivers and streams, making access water quite easy.
The routes in the wilderness are mainly ATV tracks, which have been formed from fishing and reindeer husbandry needs. ATV tracks can be tens of kilometres in length and are perfectly suitable for mountain biking.
Mieraslompolo-Pulmankijärvi route is perhaps the most popular among mountain bikers. The route has a length of about 68 kilometers. Due to its technically challenging and rugged terrain, it cannot be recommended for beginner mountain bikers. In addition, the route runs through an open fell area where weather conditions can change very quickly. There is no weather protection along this route (e.g. shelters and cabins), so all the proper clothing and other equipment (e.g. tent, sleeping bag) should be brought with you.
Due to the length of the route, all mandatory bike repair equipment must also packed. In addition to this, you must have a good knowledge and experience in using them, as in the worst case scenario you can find yourself 35 kilometers from the nearest road.
In addition, mobile phone nerwork covarage in the Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area can be non-existing in places (depending on the operator). In certain areas there is no reception at all, so you should be very careful in avoiding any unnecessary risks during mountain biking.
Mieraslompolo – Pulmankijärvi route can be ridden in both directions. One option is to ride it in one day, in around 8-12 hours. However, this requires good fitness level and and experience in long distance mountain biking. Another option is to take a tent and ride the route in two days. In this case, you can pedal slower (about 35 km per day), enjoy the scenery more and minimize possible weather condition risks (tent protection).
The Mieraslompolo-Pulmankijärvi route starts from the Mast Road of Mieraslompolo (Utsjoentie 3911, 99980 Utsjoki), which is located 82 kilometers from Nuorgam and 39 km south of Utsjoki. In addition to your own car, local taxi services or a long-distance bus connection can transport you to the starting point of the route. My bus left Nuorgam at 4:38 in the morning and the trip to Mieraslompolo lasted about 1h 20min. This way, I could start riding around 6 a.m.
The first three kilometers of the route are rocky uphill. In some places these rock are quite challenging, but can still be ridden with a bike. The first kilometers will certainly take up some of your energy, as the you will accumulate around 130 ascent meters at this stage.
After the initial climb the route will get easier. It continues on a gentle downhill following the ATV route. The route forks in few places, so it’s important to follow the map or/and the GPS-track to stay on the right path. There are no markings on the route, so the navigation skills are certainly vital.
At about five kilometers mark (close to the Ávzegeasláttu Lake) the route forks. You should continue straight and not to the left (the left path will take you to the Riekkojärvi Lake). Around 11 km (nearby Lake Vundejärvi) the route forks again. Again, you should continue straight. A more visible left road goes towards the Lake Vetsijärvi. During the first 10 kilometers there will be few creeks and streams. You should be able to cross them without making your feet wet.
From now on, the route continues on a clear ATV track. The route is mainly easy, except for a few small swamps and some rocky terrain in places. At this point of the route, your feet will probably get wet, as there will be more and more wet sections along the way. It’s a good idea to keep this in mind when choosing suitable shoes and socks.
On the shore of Lake Buksajärvi (about 22 km) you can enjoy the spectacular scenery of fishermen’s huts and fells.This creates a truly magical atmosphere. From the lake of Buksajärvi the route continues with a gentle uphill following the ATV road. There will be few more challenging rocky sections ahead, but in general the route is easily ridable.
At the top of the Guorboaivi fell (about 30 km) you can enjoy an open mountain scenery (especially when the weather is clear) and see the remainings of the weather tower. From now on, threre will be a downhill of approximately three kilometres. The route goes along the fell ridges to the peak of Goallágotteoaivi (34 km). At the top the route disappears for a few hundred meters. A good idea here is to track your position using both GPS and a paper map. Continue forward (slightly to the right), and soon you will find the path again.
After Goallágotteoaivi top, the route continues along a very distinct ATV track. At 40 km mark (by the Duottar-Gálddojärvi Lake) the route disappears completely again. This area is very wet, what may be the reason for ATVs to completely go around it. In this section it is good to check the map and GPS-location once again. If you look gently to the left, you will spot the hut of reindeer herders at the bank of the lake. Continue towards it for about a few kilometers (or follow my GPS-track). Shortly before the cottages the ATV route reappears again.
Next you will encounter a creek crossing. The area around the creek is pretty wet, so here you’ll probably get your feet wet again. This, however, what the real adventure is all about! From now on, the route follows a very distinct track, which is mainly slight downhill (the longest downhill here is about 5 km).
The last 10 kilometres of the route are technically more difficult. There are plenty of rocky terrain and small muddy streams along the way. You should reserve more time for riding this section. In addition to this, it is a good idea to ride a bit slower, as you will definitelly feel some fatigue at this point. As we all know, fatigue also increases the risks of riding mistakes.
The route ends on the road to Pulmankijärvi (Pulmankijärventie 1676-1694, 99990 Utsjoki), where you can park your car if needed. From the side of the road parking, it is still around 17 km of the gravel and asphalt road to Nuorgam. I warmly recommend you to arrange a return transfer via the local transportation operator (unless you have your own car), as your energy at this point might be very low for riding another 17 km of a relatively boring road.
In general, this route was definitely one of the most difficult I have ever ridden, but at the same time the most rewarding.
The real wilderness of Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area, the spectacular fell scenery, the physical challenge of the route (especially when riding in one day) and the changing weather conditions will definitely ensure an unforgettable experience for every experienced mountain biker!