Karhunkierros, Lapland, mountain biking route
Altitude difference, m
Total Ascent, m
Longest decent, m
Route descriptionKarhunkierros (Bear trail) is Finland’s most popular hiking trail. Karhunkierros trail is 82 kilometers long and runs between Hautajärvi and Ruka in beautiful surroundings of the Oulanka National Park. Along the route you can see meadows, pine trees, groves and, above all, countless rapids and rocky walls of the Oulankajoki River.
However, there is only one nine kilometer long section of Karhunkierros, where mountain biking is permitted in summer. The section starts at the Oulanka Visitor Center and runs to Taivalköngäs’ Hut. In front of the Oulanka Nature Centre you will find a free car park (Liikasenvaarantie 132, 93900, Kuusamo). The mountain biking route is A-to-B, so you will have to return back using the same route. This means that the total distance of the route is 18 kilometres.
Oulanka Visitor Center – Aventolampi (0 – 4,5 km)
The start of the route is easy forest trail. It is wide and is well suitable for beginner riders. If you want to try mountain biking – the first 2.5 kilometers of the route will offer you a good opportunity for it.
After 2,5 kilometers the route becomes more challenging. Roots, rocks and duck boards increase the challenge in certain parts. However, the average mountain biking enthusiast will be able to ride this section of the route.
The section ends at Aventolampi, where you will find a well-equipped resting place. There is a campfire site, a table, firewood storage and a river bank for scenery and water. If you are a beginner rider or unsure about your technical skills, I recommend you to turn back to Oulanka Visitor Center from here. This way your total riding distance will be 9 kilometers.
Aventolampi – Taivalköngäs (4.5 – 9 km)
The route continues with medium difficulty for the next 2 kilometres. It is mainly fast, but in places there are challenging sections with roots and rocks.
At about six kilometers the route becomes more difficult. The path narrows, and there is much more roots, rocks and technical uphill sections here. However, the most experienced mountain bikers will enjoy this additional challenge.
The real technical challenges start at about eight kilometers mark. Many sections here are not ridable at all, and you will end up carrying your bike despite of any technical skill level. It will take considerably more time to complete the last kilometer, so take this into account when planning your schedules.
The route ends at Taivalköngäs. Taivalköngäs is a great place for a break. It is surrounded by wild rapids, cliffs and hanging bridges. Here you will find a wilderness hut, couple of tables, a fireplace and a great scenery of course.
After the rest, you will have to turn back and ride the same route into opposite direction. It’s a good idea to reserve from two to four hours for riding the whole route. The difficulty level of the route is mostly between easy and medium. However, the last two kilometers are so technical that riding there is impossible in places (especially in rainy weather). If you only have little time in your disposal, I would recommend you to enjoy the Oulanka National Park by foot. Karhunkierros offers a lot more of spectacular sceneries outside the allowed 9 km long mountain biking route.