LOCATED IN REINDEER HERDING LAND
The Savukoski-Pelkosenniemi Gravel Loop is a pleasant and easy 137km 2-3 bikepacking route connecting the two villages and municipal centers of the East Lapland area on some forgotten world-class gravel and dirt roads. The route can be ridden by spending the night in one of the villages, camping, or taking advantage of the refugios along the way. The route also functions as a gateway deeper into the Eastern Lapland and it can be connected to Korvatunturi Gravel Loop and Pyhä-Luosto National Park MTB Loop, as a part of the longer East Lapland tour.
The Eastern Lapland municipalities have usually a reindeer-to-man ratio of at least 10:1 and in that Pelkosenniemi and Savukoski are no different. The two villages of these municipal centers have some of the rare services in the area, making them natural stops, whether you are doing the great Central Lapland Gravel Loop, hitting the single tracks of the Pyhä-Luosto National Park MTB Route, or have the Korvatunturi fell in your radar. The two alternative connecting routes between the villages also form a nice 2-3 day and 137km bikepacking loop on gravel roads and occasional double-track.
The northwest leg of the route has two fantastic alternatives for the night, the rental hut of the Tarkkala Erämaatila and the Kuisvaara reindeer herders’ hut, which by the generosity of the local reindeer herders is, for now, open for an overnight stay for cyclists. The Kivitunturi hiking trail is also located on the northwest leg of the route and, if you have the time, is a nice half-a-day trek, not too far away from the Savukoski village.
The southeast leg of the route again is quite different with some double-track dirt riding connecting the two villages in a rather efficient manner, The cabins of the Marjasuvannon lomamajat are a possible lodging for the night, as well. Riding is easy and non-technical the whole route, though some a hint rougher sections of road still require some focus, making riding interesting enough to keep miles ticking without much thinking about it.
Read more about the details of the route and notes along the way below…
REINDEER HERDING & ROUTE OPENING TIME
1st of June till first snow (late September to early October)
For now, there are no limitations to the bikepacking season requested by the local reindeer herding community.
However, there might occasionally be ongoing reindeer herding work at Kuisvaara reindeer herders' hut, so in case of any activity, check that using the hut is ok for them and if necessary, head to Tarkkala for the night instead. Also, give them a high-five for opening their little hut for bikepackers and generously provide the firewood for free as well!
More about the annual rhythm of reindeer herding work here and general guidelines for trekking and camping in the reindeer herding area, check here.
Photos: Taneli Roininen
Traffic-free gravel and dirt roads in Eastern Lapland taiga connecting the two municipal centers
Camping at the Tarkkala erämaatila wilderness farm, one of the few wilderness farms which survived WWII. For now, the yard of the wilderness farm is for camping only, but might turn back into rental hut use for 2023.
Visit the Kuisvaara reindeer herders’ hut, a traditional style work hut open for cyclists to visit and stay overnight as well. Good camping around too.
Kivitunturi hiking trails is a nice detour by foot, to get a glimpse of the higher country views and geography in contrast to forest road riding
Northern lights can be seen multiple times a week in autumn, given the sky is clear at night.