The UKK Trail is a national hiking trail named after President Urho Kaleva Kekkonen. The trail crosses parts of North Karelia, Kainuu, Northern Ostrobothnia and Lapland. Its southern starting point is Koli in Lieksa and it ends at Tulppio in Savukoski in the north. Urho Kekkonen himself hiked the trail in 1957.
The trail runs through the middle of nowhere, through places with many stories
UKK, or Urho Kaleva Kekkonen, was the President of Finland from 1956 to 1981. He was a prominent figure in Finnish history, but most young Finns today are not likely to be very familiar with him. He has become a man from the past. That bald-headed fellow. He was the President once, wasn’t he?
However, many people in Salla have much more vivid memories of the man known as Urkki. They may have even seen him in person back in the day. At the very least, they have heard some of the stories about Kekkonen that still make the rounds here.
The best-known of these stories is the one about his visit to the house of Vihtori Vuorela. Coffee was served and Kekkonen spilled some on the tablecloth. No worries, said Vuorela’s wife. Moments later, Vilho Vuorela also spilled some coffee on the tablecloth. “Nice going, butterfingers,” said Vuorela’s wife. The visit went well, and some time later the Vuorelas received a package in the post. It contained a nice new tablecloth and a short message signed “The other butterfingers”.
Is this a true story? At least it is told like a true story. As time passes, the story or one of its many versions comes to be held as true.
There is also another story that involves Vihtori Vuorela and Urho Kaleva Kekkonen. Kekkonen was the guest of honour at a major agricultural exhibition held in Salla in 1963. Vihtori Vuorela gave his old friend an unusual gift as a memento of the visit: he had commissioned a custom-made gold-tipped fountain pen made from a bear’s penile bone with silver fittings. President Kekkonen thanked Vuorela for the gift and commented that it is something that not many people have.
We certainly deserve our Kekkonen, including the Kekkonen of our stories, and Kekkonen certainly deserves his namesake trail. The trail cuts across our expansive municipality from south to north. It gives hikers the opportunity to experience changing terrain and the diverse nature of Salla.
The trail runs through the middle of nowhere, through places with many stories. They are the stories of Salla, with themes such as history, nature and people. Including President Kekkonen.
Trail difficulty rating
Services on the trail:
The trail is marked by orange signposts (red squares). There are several resting places along the trail. There are huts in Tervalammi, Konttilampi and at the top of Palotunturi fell. There is an observation tower and campfire site in the open country between Löytöjänkä and Suksenpaistama. There is a lean-to and campfire site in Aikkipetsinlammi and a day hut in Aihkipetsi. There is a hut in Siskelilammi and a lean-to in Kolmiloukkonen. The trail crosses a few dikes that provide a source of water. There are also several ponds that can be used as a source of water for boiling.
Trail conditions, related risks and recommended equipment
The trail is highly varied. The trail includes roads as well as narrow and uneven paths. The middle section, crossing Palotunturi fell, includes steep inclines and declines. Recommended footwear: in the summer season, waterproof high-cut hiking boots or rubber boots.
Description of the natural environment
The natural environment on this long and varied trail is highly diverse: fresh mixed forest, dry heath forest, spruce forests around streams, primeval forests, bogs and fells.
Description of the cultural environment
There is beautiful fell scenery visible from the top of Palotunturi fell. The mire protection area around Löytöjänkä-Suksenpaistama includes great expanses of open bog, and there are magnificent old pine forests around the Aihkipetsi day hut.
Located in southern Salla on the UKK Trail between Hautajärvi and Sallatunturi. Starts from Sallatunturi Fell Centre. The other starting point is about 42 kilometres from Salla towards Kuusamo, at the Karhunkierros nature house. You can also get on the trail from Aihkipetsi. From Salla, drive about 20 kilometres towards Kuusamo. Turn right at Kallunkijärvi and drive about seven kilometres on the gravel road. There are signposts for the trail along the road.