Exploring the fjells by bike, hollering with happiness as we ride down the beautiful singletrails. Mountainbiking in Lapland in the autumn is a unique and beautiful activity, and with many trails available you can go off adventuring by bike for many days!
Disclosure: This trip was supported financially by the Arctic Outdoor project. As you know: I’m keepin’ it real and tell you how it is - I maintain full editorial control of the content published on Hiking in Finland. Read the Transparency Disclaimer for more information on affiliate links & blogger transparency.
I’m a cyclist, and on my backpacking and work trips riding my bike is one of the few things I miss. I like the speed, the new perspective on things, the ability to see more in a shorter amount of time. It’s great, fun, too! So when I saw that one of my Polarlife Outdoors activities would be to go ride Mountainbike in the fjells, I was really happy and excited. Last year in Åre I learned to ride downhill mountainbiking and I have looked forward to another opportunity to ride a bike in the hills of Lapland.
The forecast for the day was grey and rainy, but tht did not dampen my spirit. I met up with Reima & Tiina from Saariselkä Training and Anni at the bike shed, where we got our bikes, and then we were altogether off to the hills!
Now this was not a downhill ride. We powered up the fjell with our own power (no eBike or gondola!) and rode from wide, easy paths over swampy duckboard sections to a very short stoney trail to the summit on many different kinds of terrain, which is excellent for beginners like me. That way the trail got a little more demanding the higher we got, and once at the summit it was wide views, happy high-fives, and getting excited about the downhill ride.
As these things tend to go, by the time we rolled towards the single trail the weather decided it was time for a bit more moisture, and so a light drizzle started to accompany us on our way down. This did not curb our enthusiasm for the singletrail, though! Reima and Tiina were shredding fast down their home trails, and I was hollering with joy in the beautiful nature!
After a way too short section of easy downhill singletrail Tiina & Reima guided us on gorgeous paths through the autumnal forest. Pine needles from many years made these trails soft and enjoyable, with little curves, small ups & downs, and around us the forest with all the beautiful colours of red, orange, yellow and green.
Sadly also this delightful forest ride was over too quickly, as we arrived at a cozy Kota, where Reima brewed us a fine coffee and and we ate some home-made cake. This is such a nice touch, eating real, home-made food outdoors, and drinking good coffee, and in hindsight it seemed to be a unifying thing between all the Polarlife Outdoors activities I did that week: Tasty food, prepared at home, enjoyed with kind people, in nature.
We chatted about cycling, the outdoors and life in the North during our coffee break, and then saddled our bikes for a final time as we had a short ride back to the village in front of us. We continued our chats on the bike, and it made me want to go for another mountainbike trip here with these two in the beautiful nature of Lapland. Reima and Tiina were excellent guides, very calm, friendly and down-to-earth - I really enjoyed spending time with them, riding in and around the woods & hills of the Urho Kekkonen National Park, and I hope to ride again with them the next time I visit Saariselkä 😊
I stayed in Saariselkä, which is probably THE place to be when you want to explore the North-Eastern corner of Finnish Lapland. Besides a dozen or more options for accommodation options - I stayed at the Lapland Hotels Riekonlinna - the village lays right at the border of the Urho Kekkonen National Park and is just a short 2 hour stroll away from the Hammastunturi Wilderness Area. This means you don’t need a car to go outdoors in Saariselkä, as you can walk in a few minutes from your Hotel or log cabin to the start of a trail. Here’s the full list of Hotels and Cabins in Saariselkä, and feel free to use that Affiliate Link when you’re making a reservation!
Getting to Saariselkä happens in one of three ways: You drive your car north for a veeeeeeery long time but are mobile there. Useful if you want to drive to different places, but hopefully you’re not alone in that car! The second and best option is to take the train and Bus. Taking the Bus from Rovaniemi to Saariselkä is a short and scenic 3 hour ride, and it really gets you in the mood for the outdoors as you ride past lakes and forests and every so often slow down to let the Reindeer get off the road. Taking an (overnight) train to Rovaniemi from Southern Finland is also very convenient, as you wake up well rested and just a short ride away from your next outdoor adventure. This is also a good way to travel if you want to explore Helsinki before or after a visit in Lapland. Finally, if you come from abroad you also can fly directly to Ivalo, from where you can take a bus or Taxi to Saariselkä.
Saariselkä has for a village its size a variety of different options for eating out, from Anne’s Garden which serves delicious Burgers (great for backpackers who just returned to civilization!) to fine dining at Santa’s Hotel Tunturi and Lapland Hotels Riekonlinna or the tasty Buffet at the Holiday Club. Cafe Porotupa at the market square makes really good coffee (On a side note, I’m always baffled how much bad coffee you get served in a variety of places in Finland, the World Champion in coffee consumption) and also fresh pancakes and cakes. If you rather cook yourself, then the supermarket in the village has everything you need, or if you need to stock-up on dehydrated meals for another backpacking trip then visit the Partioaitta Saariselkä, probably the most-northern Outdoor Store in Finland!
During my visit at Saariselkä I participated in many different Polarlife Outdoors activities, include going to the Sauna and Spa at the Holiday Club, hiking on one of the dozen of trails around the village, visiting the AMAZING Aurora Open Wilderness Hut when you want to see Northern Lights, participate in a wild herbs Workshop, visit a Sauna and going to swim in a stream, or rent a Mountainbike and explore one of the many single track trails and holler with joy when you ride down the fjell! During the next weeks you’ll be able to read more about my adventures in the far north and some of these activities, so consider becoming a Fan on Facebook or Twitter to not miss the next instalments!
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