How to get across Ounasjärvi lake, how does one get their car tranferred to destination and does Hetta have a store or a pharmacy? What are open wilderness huts like?
People often ask me the same kind of questions about this trail, usually focusing on beginner’s tips. So let’s do this! Part one concentrates on preparations!
What to take into consideration?
When your planning for your summer hike or your fall color trek, there are a few things you can do to make the whole thing easier.
How many days and how many nights?
The duration of the hike depends entirely on the hiker. If you want to make 15 km day hike, be sure to have around four days to complete the entire trail. You can stay in reservation huts in Sioskuru, Hannukuru and Nammalakuru (granted you book them). Especially for a first-timer this is recommended.
There are more accomodations, mind you. The first one – Pyhäkero wilderness hut – is an excellent spot to spend the night. Same goes for the last one – the Rihmakuru hut. Should your feet or back start acting up, some of the huts are only a few kilometers apart.
And no one’s saying you can’t just enjoy the view and go slow. I actually recommend it, since the landscape is breath-taking from start to finish. But make sure you lay your head somewhere near a hut or a camping area.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking a ten kilometer run is the same as ten in the fells. You don’t advance nearly as fast with a rucksack on your back.
How to get to Hetta or Pallas?
By car or public transportation?
Last I checked, it takes 13 hours to get to Hetta from Jyväskylä, with three different buses. The price was 125 euros. Sometimes they have excellent offers and combining Onnibus and other providers, you can get there for next to nothing.
In autumn, they arrange carpools and bu rides for fall color treks. Some of them offer food and accommodations on the way.
If you go by car, I suggest you ask if anyone (preferably someone with a license) else is willing to come along. It’s no fun driving that far on one go.
From Pallas to Hetta in a bus
From the crossroads to Pallastunturi (not from the Visitor Center / hotel courtyard, according to the schedule) goes a single bus a day on weekdays at 4:48 PM to Muonio. From Muonio to Hetta, there are two buses: one at 3:05 PM, another at 8:50 PM. Remember to double check the schedule from Matkahuolto because this might not be the case forever.
Should I go in June or maybe later? What’s the snow situation and will there be mosquitoes? What about Fall colors?
Weather conditions in Hetta-Pallas are extremely difficult to predict
If you plan to hike on foot and are planning to go during spring, I urge you to wait until the trail has dried out after winter. This information is best found by following the park’s Facebook page or by calling the Visitor Center.
As I’m typing this, it’s raining sleet in Peltovuoma and it’s early July.
In 2016, spring was early on our very first Hetta-Pallas hike. That didn’t stop a snowstorm from surprising us half-way on the trail. But in 2017, the trail was still wet and partially snow-covered. Typically the trail dries out by mid-June.
Predicting the weather in the fells is…difficult, as you can imagine. Conditions change in a heartbeat and while there might be sunshine on your side of the fell, a pouring rain could be raging on the opposite side. So be prepared.
Mosquito season usually starts after Midsummer but it’s windy in the fells, so you’re safe up there. Once you descend into valleys, though.. wear a bug-net hat and spray a fair bit of repellent, is all I’m saying.
The duration of the bug season is, again, difficult to predict. Same goes for fall colors.
Fall colors usually start in September. Lapland is beautiful 365 days a year, though.
They arrange a few bigger events in the Pallas area, so keep a close eye on the Park’s newsfeed. NUTS Pallas, a trail running event, is a famous one.
What about the trail, do I walk to Pyhäkero wilderness hut or do I take a boat across Ounasjärvi lake? What about my car?
Boat across Ounasjärvi + car transfer service
Between Hetta and the trail itself, is a lake.
Boat across costs about 8 to 10 euros per person (Summer of 2017). You can either call a guy or ask around the harbor. Some accommodations include it in their fees as well. It’s polite to book a ride the day before (during spring you should ask more in advance due to the ice situation) but let me tell you, it’s possible to make it happen in 20 minutes notice.
Car transfer service is meant for those who came to Hetta by car and want to jump back in it in Pallas, once the hike is over. Again, some accommodations include this in their fees but as a separate service it’s 50 euros (summer 2017). Should you be going the other way (from Pallas to Hetta), it still works. And if you’re not planning to hike the entire trail, you can ask them to leave the car somewhere in between as well. The price is the same, however. A bus might be cheaper but I felt this service to be pretty handy and faster.
On foot to Pyhäkero wilderness hut
You can also simply walk or get a cab or hitchhike to the start of a forest road East of Hetta that eventually takes you to the trail.
However, the road is blocked by a beam so should you take a car, you still need to walk the same amount you would’ve walked had you crossed Ounasjärvi.
This route is best explained by local cab drivers or the nice people at Tunturi-Lappi Visitor Center.
Should I stay the night in Hetta or Pallas before/after the hike?
Spending the night / services in Hetta
Hetta, Enontekiö has a bunch of accommodations from Hotel Hetta to more modest options. But let’s talk about why should you stay the night.
Hetta has a convenience store, a pharmacy, a liquor store, a grill kiosk, an ATM, restaurants and Tunturi-Lappi Visitor Center.
So you can restock and purchase all the items you forgot to pack. Not to mention enjoy a nice meal before the hike. All the goods and services are neatly in one pile.
More detailed information can be found here.
The permanent exhibition Vuovijus – Travelers in Tunturi-Lappi Visitor Center tells the story of Lapland’s nomads and their endeavors. Have a nice cup of Joe on your way out! The Center is open from June 5th to September 24th from Monday to Sunday from 9 AM to 5 PM and from September 25th to December 31st from Monday to Sunday from 9 AM to 4 PM (closed on December 25th). Their cafeteria Café Pulmunen is open from Monday to Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM (Summer of 2017)
Behind the Center rests Jyppyrä hill and its nature trail. Atop it lies a shelter and a view of the Hetta-Pallas trail. A warm recommendation for this lovely little destination.
Pallas: Pallastunturi Visitor Center and Lapland Hotel Pallas
Pallastunturi Visitor Center is the smallest of the three centers of Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. But it’s location is perfect for returning the hut keys and purchasing last minute souvenirs.
from June 5th to October 1st from Monday to Sunday from 9 AM to 5 PM
from October 2nd to December 31st from Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM.
Closed on December 25th.
The old-fashioned Lapland Hotel Pallas resides next to the Center and its opening hours should be checked from their website since it’s open only when it’s on-season. But when it’s open, the best things for hikers are a shower, a bar and a restaurant. And why not spend one last night in an actual bed?
Do I stay in open wilderness huts or do I book one? Do I need a tent? Where can I pitch it?
Spending nights in a tent in Hetta-Pallas.
You’re only allowed to pitch a tent nearby wilderness huts.
In recreational zones of the National Park, you’re only allowed to make fire or camp near wilderness huts, shelters and/or lean-tos at the appointed locations.
It’s nice to have your own tent. Your house, your rules. You can bring your dog inside, unlike in reservation huts. Even with open wilderness huts you need to ask every inhabitant it’s okay to bring a pet indoors.
Every tent spot is the stuff of dreams anyway, right?
Reservation huts and open wilderness huts along the Hetta-Pallas trail
Open wilderness huts are open to everyone. So anyone can stay the night or enjoy a nice meal in one. You can also bring a pet, if it’s okay to every inhabitant. If it’s not, the pet stays outside.
These huts have a so called first in, first out principle. If there’s no more room, the first to arrive needs to make some for the last to arrive. This hasn’t happened to us once, not even when Salomo storm hit the fells. But I personally carry a tent at all times just in case. Oh and ear plugs. Bring a pair. Trust me.
We’ll dive deeper into hut etiquette next Friday!
Open wilderness huts have a variety of armaments and the current situation can always be found from luontoon.fi or by asking a Visitor Center. So far on this trail they have gas stoves, firewood and a regular stove in each hut. They also have a water hole or a fell river.
Keys to reservation huts can be acquired from Visitor Centers and you can handle the booking by calling them. But remember, you can’t take pets inside.
Resevation huts have more room, cleaner kitchenware and linens/pillows. It costs 11 euros per person per night (2017).
Caution: despite the abundance of huts, always keep an emergency accommodation option at hand.
On our next installment on Tuesday we go over each hut and you get to see pretty pictures!
The ultimate Hetta-Pallas guide answers your questions about the most popular and the oldest hiking trail in Finland. This is the first installment. Click the texts below to go to the other blog posts. If the post is already published, you’ll see a link. You can also ask additional information in the comment section below or by sending us a message in Facebook!
- Preparations and bookings/services
- Huts along the trail
- Hut etiquette
- National Park rules and regulations
- Terrain difficulty, trail safety and cellphone coverage
- Trash-free hiking, economic use of gas and firewood
- History and culture
Writer Anne Sulander has been volunteering in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in 2016 and 2017. She has also hiked the trail several times. If you find an factual error in the text or if you have any questions, comment below!
Sources: Metsähallitus leaflets, map of the area, hut diaries and luontoon.fi