When the locals in Salla say they are going “to the church”, they are usually not talking about actually going to church, although it should be mentioned that the famous Lapp hut church in Salla is certainly worth a visit. When the locals say they are going to church they mean they are going to the village centre. That is where they find the Alko store, the pharmacies, the shops and the libraries, schools and kiosks, post offices and other services.
The good thing about this trail is that you can take it both ways
These days, the village centre is commonly referred to as Salla. Its old name was Märkäjärvi. The old Salla village centre was located at the foot of the old Salla fells, which are now on the Russian side of the border. The cession of territory after World War II meant that the old Salla village centre was lost. Märkäjärvi has been mentioned as a transport hub as early as a travel guide produced in the 1930s by the Finnish Tourism Association. A trip to Salla is one of the 17 routes featured in the guide.
From Sallatunturi fell, the village centre is easy to reach by car or bicycle, or even on roller skis along the paved road. Another good alternative is to cover the distance by walking. This gives you the opportunity to traverse an ancient trail.
From Sallatunturi fell, you can get to Salla village centre on a trail that passes the shores of Lake Keselmäjärvi, crosses heaths and follows the bends of Ruuhijoki River. The good thing about this trail is that you can take it both ways.
When you take this “trip to the church” and kick reindeer droppings along the way, in the middle of nowhere, you will understand how much resilience and perseverance it has taken to survive in this region.
When an old lady who lived at the foot of the fell went to pick up a bag of flour from the other side of the wilderness, where a ship had delivered it via the waterways, she named the path “the Road of Life”. There were no roads back then, not to mention highways. What might today appear to be a random reindeer trail that leads nowhere might have been an important passage in ancient times.
On a clearly signposted trail anyone can “get lost” safely and forget about the challenges of daily life for a moment. Let the wilderness heal your wounds. This state of mind is easy to achieve even on a short “trip to the church”, whether it means actually vising the church or just surrendering yourself to the sounds of the forest.
Trail difficulty rating
Services on the trail:
Between Sallatunturi fell and Lapin Mysteeri, the trail is marked by low posts with red tops. After Lapin Mysteeri, the trail follows a lit ski track to the “Sirkan laavu” lean-to. From there, you can choose to follow the trail along the shores of Ruuhijoki River or continue along the ski track. There is a lean-to along the trail, between Lapin Mysteeri and Salla village centre. There is a café and restaurant available at Lapin Mysteeri. The trail crosses a few streams that can be used as sources of water.
Trail conditions, related risks and recommended equipment
Many of the signs and route markers are difficult to see on the section following the trail’s starting point in the Sallatunturi fell area. The terrain is uneven in places, and there are a few steep sections. Recommended footwear: in the summer season, hiking boots or rubber boots.
Description of the natural environment
Mostly commercial forests.
Description of the cultural environment
Fell scenery near Sallatunturi.
Located between Salla village centre and Sallatunturi fell. At Salla village centre, the trail starts behind the school centre. At Sallatunturi Fell Centre, the trail starts from the caravan area. Signposts show the way to the trail.