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Exploring Saamiland from the back of a bike

In the middle of the wilderness of Utsjoki, there are ancient trails that the people of old used when travelling from one village to the next. Modern roads have been constructed since then, but the old trails and footpaths still offer a unique opportunity for travellers to explore and enjoy the rugged wilderness from the back of a mountain bike. The cultural attractions in the region, of which there are many, are scattered along the network of bike trails. Several old reindeer roundup sites and sacrificial seita stones can be found in the countryside. 

The trails can be quite demanding in places, but they will also lead you to the most spectacular views you could ever hope for. You will not find bike trails such as these anywhere else in Finland. The terrain makes the Utsjoki region a once-in-a-lifetime experience for recreational bikers and mountain bikers. Recreational bikers usually travel along the constructed roads, whilst mountain bikers favour the more rugged trails that are found in the wilderness. Whether you are looking for a smooth and easy ride or a true challenge, Utsjoki can provide it for you.

There are a vast amount of trails to choose from. Utsjoki offers 10–15 mountain bike trails that are suitable for day trips. The trails vary in length, starting from just 15 kilometres. You might also want to try one of the longer recreational bike routes or even a mountain bike safari! The landscapes in the Utsjoki region vary from peaceful river valleys to the wide open spaces of the high fells. Many bike trails offer you the opportunity to travel up to the high fells by car, hop on your mountain bike and start exploring the wilderness straight away.

If you wish to try recreational biking instead, why not take a tour of the three villages of Utsjoki? You can start your tour from Nuorgam and travel to the parish village of Utsjoki and finally to Karigasniemi along the Tenontie, which is considered by many to be the most beautiful road in Finland. Of course, the road is just as lovely if you decide to travel along it in the other direction instead. Either way, a one-way trip is 145 kilometres in length. If you pick a trail which leads from one of the villages of Utsjoki, you can easily extend your journey by crossing the border to Norway. And if you feel up for a trip of over one hundred kilometres in the wilderness, you can also hop on your mountain bike and travel cross-country from the Utsjoki parish village to Nuorgam.

In Utsjoki, the season for mountain biking begins in mid-June. Earlier in the year, there may still be snow in the fells and the ground may be wet and muddy. August and September are the best months for exploring the region from the back of a bike: the temperature is pleasant, the leaves are just starting to change colour and you will not be troubled by thick swarms of insects.

Biking is a wonderful recreational activity. It is particularly well suited for people who love speed and would like to cover greater distances faster than on foot. How fit you need to be depends on the trail that you intend to follow. In principle, however, recreational biking and mountain biking are suitable for everyone. The distance you wish to travel is entirely up to you.

– The natural beauty, the wide open spaces, the scenery, the culture and the silence make Utsjoki unique and exceptional. Only in Utsjoki can you hop on your mountain bike and explore such lovely landscapes without needing to pack a tent and loads of other equipment as well. Even if you participate in a longer mountain bike safari, you will be able to find places to rest and spend the night along the way. And these landscapes… Truly, you won’t find anything like this anywhere else in Finland, states Tapio Lepikkö, a mountain biking enthusiast.