Hike to the Fireguard Hut on Otsamo Mountain near Inari

Hike zur Brandwächter-Hütte auf dem Otsamo bei Inari
Hike to the Fireguard Hut on Otsamo Mountain near Inari

Finland. The summit of Otsamo is a popular hiking destination in Inari. The 418-meter-high mountain offers a great view over the Inari lake area and a cozy shelter, which used to be the fire warden's hut. The Jäniskoski rapids, which are spanned by a suspension bridge, are another highlight of the hike.

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Blick vom Otsamo bei Inari
After the rain, the view is just as beautiful as before.

Hike to the summit of Otsamo at a glance

There are two hiking trails leading up to Otsamo: one starts in the nearby village of Inari and another at the Vasatokka Youth Center. I walked the route from Inari to Otsamo, which I describe below. In winter, there is a ski slope marked with blue pegs up to the summit.

  • Start / Finish: Inari; north of the bridge over the Juutuanjoki, opposite the Siida Museum
  • Length: about 19 km (there and back)
  • Ascent: 300 m (mainly a steep ascent in the last 2 km before the summit)
  • Marking: red wooden posts
  • Shelter: two lavvus and a hut on the summit, each with a dry toilet and wood supply
Just before the summit, the hiking trails from Inari and from the youth hostel meet.

What makes the hike from Inari to Otsamo peak so worthwhile?

Jäniskoski rapids and suspension bridge

The hike begins rather unspectacularly. The trail leads along wide paths through a pine forest and boulders. The route is part of the Juunta Trail, where information boards tell you about life by the river in the past.

After about 3.3 kilometers, you reach the Juutuanjoki River with its raging rapids Jäniskoski, over which a suspension bridge is spanned. It gets even wilder when you stand in the middle of the suspension bridge and look down through the grid floor. What you can also see is that there are wooden planks on the edge of the bridge for our four-legged friends.

Hike auf den Otsamo bei Inari - Stromschnellen Jäniskoski
A somewhat waxy affair. Behind the bridge you can see the lavvu and the wood store with adjoining toilet.
Hike auf den Otsamo bei Inari
You'd rather not get into it.

At the suspension bridge, the Jäniskosken Lavvu invites you to take a break. After another 2.1 kilometers there is another lavvu, called Laurin Lavvu. Both have a fireplace, a woodshed and a dry toilet.

Fire pit at Lavvu Jäniskosken
Hike auf den Otsamo bei Inari
The Laurin Lavvu

To the summit of Otsamo

After the rapids, the wide path becomes an easily accessible trail that winds through the mixed pine forest and follows the rushing Juutuanjoki River. Only the last two kilometers before the summit are steep. The vegetation changes, the trees become smaller and birch trees and rocks dominate the surroundings. If you turn around, you can see the lake landscape far below. From the small wooden hut on the summit, you have a 360-degree panorama that you don't find everywhere: far below, the lakes Inarijärvi and Muddusjärvi spread out and you have a view of the Juutuanjoki River and the Muotkatunturi and Joenkielinen fells.

Hike auf den Otsamo bei Inari
Swampy areas are bridged with wooden planks
Hike auf den Otsamo bei Inari
Shortly before the summit, the pines have been replaced by birches.
Blick vom Otsamo bei Inari
The view towards the rain: it's good that you have such a good all-round view up here and can see what weather is approaching.

After enjoying the view in all directions, I also went into the hut. A cool wind was blowing up there all day and I could see the rain coming in the distance. I unpacked my provisions and coffee and sat down by one of the large windows of the old fire warden's hut.

Blick vom Otsamo bei Inari
The clouds are so beautiful, it's okay if it drizzles.

Fire warden huts

At the beginning of the 20th century, the forest wardens in northern Finland were responsible for around 90,000 hectares of forest. Their duties also included fire watching. More and more of these fire lookout huts with integrated observation towers were built. Around 1970, there were around 40 fire lookout huts like this one on Otsamo near Inari. In the 1980s, surveillance aircraft were increasingly used. Many of the huts were then converted into overnight or day cabins.

There was once a walk-on viewing platform on the roof of the hut. In the summer of 2024, the ladder leading up to it was unfortunately dismantled. But you can still go inside the hut and warm up or take a break sheltered from the wind and rain. There is a stove and a gas stove. Instructions for use are pinned to the wall in various languages.

The hut is only intended for daytime use and not for overnight stays.

Brandwächterhütte auf dem Otsamo bei Inari
The fire warden had an even better all-round view from the roof terrace.
You can still enjoy the view from inside the hut.
Toilet in a prime location

Book recommendations for Finland

You want to know where the journey goes? Then I can recommend these books*.

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Recommendations for further Reading

Do you love Scandinavia as much as I do? Do you fancy Norway? Then you might be interested in my articles about a Winter in Tromsø - the Gateway to the Arctic or about the Lofoten and Vesterålen - Winter Highlights.

Winter in Tromsø - das Tor zur Arktis
Winter in Tromsø - the Gateway to the Arctic
Lofoten und Vesterålen - Highlights im Winter
Lofoten and Vesterålen - Winter Highlights


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