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Lakeland by Cycle Bikepacking Routes combines the nature sites, sights, and services of the geographically and historically interesting Lakeland Finland via the best gravel and forest roads in the region. Three rollercoaster-like loops offer a selection of the unique geology and nature of the region through an infinity of heath, moraine eskers, and gently rolling forests. The routes are located in the heart of Finnish Lake District, so you’re rarely more than a stones throw away from water and there are usually multiple little sand beaches a day for mid-ride skinny dipping.

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Vast areas of rock with their cliffs as well as numerous ravines characterise the Jyväskylä region in Central Finland. Indeed, the routes go by the ravines of Hitonhauta, Karhunahdas, Talkoovuoret, and Vororotti to name a few. The three gravel loops also visit the national parks of Salamajärvi, Leivonmäki, and Pyhä-Häkki and the Old Church of Petäjävesi, one of the few Finnish UNESCO World Heritages sites, is on the way as well.The three main routes consist of  around 1,100km of gravel-rich riding though with additional six connecting routes, additional 400km in total, much longer tours are possible as well. Though the beauty of the connecting routes lie also in the shortcuts they provide. If you don’t have a full week to hit one of the loops, there are usually a couple of weekender options as well, if you use the connecting route in your planning. Just like on the main routes, the connecting routes have the most important POI’s marked on the map as well. 

 

The routes visit loads of different wilderness shelters (lean-tos, campfire huts and day huts) as well as free and organized camping grounds. However, you can tour the routes without any sleeping gear as well - at least if you’ll book the daily lodging well in advance and keep up the pace to hit the next guesthouse by the sunset. All the three main routes are easy to reach by public transportation, which makes touring the Lakeland straight forward. Internal bus connections work well in the route area, but most importantly there are multiple train stations along the routes as well. There is an hourly train connection between Helsinki and Jyväskylä with an approximate travel time of 3.5 hours. The other railway stations on the routes are located in Jämsä, Petäjävesi, Keuruu and Haapajärvi. Getting on the routes could not be much easier.

hiekkatie metsässä Hitonhaudan sorakierros
maalaistalo ja pyörä Vihreän kullan sorakierroksella
metsäpolku Hitonhaudan sorakierros reitillä

Overall,the routes offer fairly easy riding with the overall difficulty ratings being from 5 to 6 on the scale of 10. The two southern routes, The Old Church Gravel Loop and Goblin’s Gorge Gravel Loop are spot-on with around 40mm tire, but the Green Gold Gravel Loop further north is rougher and occasionally a little softer too, requiring 45mm to 50mm tires ideally for extra comfort. Riding is mostly non-technical excluding some short single-track sections, which are usually very short. Especially the two more southern routes though test you physically with the regionally typical steep and short hills, though they are usually short enough to generate flow rather than killing the momentum. As the uphills are usually short, you don’t necessarily need to go ultralight gear-wise and you’re likely to be just fine with what ever you happen to have strapped on your steed. Small gears are important though, especially if you’re going party-pace and not hammering the uphills like you stole it. 

The best time for bikepacking the  Central Finland is usually from late May to late September but thanks to the climate change the season start varies from year to year. Normally, by late May the gravel routes are usually hard and dry enough to ride comfortably, though that depends greatly on the winter snowpack (if any!) and the timing of the first warm weeks of the spring. Touring might be great beyond

 

September as well, if the autumn is rather dry keeping the gravel routes hard and fast toward the early winter. 

 

See the three main routes as well as the six connecting routes in the route system map below and check out the individual route descriptions for the route overview, detailed route map, GPX files and trail notes. 

Welcome to the green rollercoaster of the Central Finland, deep in the Finnish Lakeland!

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