Malla Strict Nature Reserve is located at Kilpisjärvi in the municipality of Enontekiö, in the remotest corner of the Käsivarsi region in northwestern Lapland, by the Scandinavian Mountains. The Malla Fells rise directly from the shore of Lake Kilpisjärvi. This group of fells was first protected as early as 1916 when Finland was still under Russian rule. The area became a strict nature reserve in the young independent Finland in 1938. Malla Strict Nature Reserve is unique due to the region’s young geology and the calciferous soil that produces rare species of fell plants.
Recreational use of strict nature reserves is restricted to ensure protection for the area, but the natural wonders of Malla can be admired by following a marked hiking trail in the summer. In wintertime, cross-country skiing is allowed anywhere in the area. There is a route over the Malla Fells from the village of Kilpisjärvi to the Three Nations’ Border Point, where the borders of Finland, Norway and Sweden meet. This route forms part of the 800-km-long Nordkalottleden Trail that comes all the way from Kvikkjokk, Sweden, winds through Kilpisjärvi past Halti Fell, and ends at Kautokeino, Norway.
The Kilpisjärvi region has the highest fells in Finland, and its weather conditions are arctic all year round. The fells in Yliperä attract hikers, fishermen and cross-country skiers alike, but beginners should not venture out into the wilderness, at least not alone or poorly equipped. Today, the services in the village of Kilpisjärvi are good, and even a day trip in the vicinity offers excellent opportunities for awesome experiences. In wintertime, the Kilpisjärvi region is especially popular among Norwegian tourists, besides the Finnish ones.
Malla Nature Reserve is Finland’s oldest nature protection area and was founded in 1916. It has an area of 30 km2 and it still remains in the same natural state as it did in former times.
The park contains the unique Köli mountain range, where the soil is very calciferous, which has resulted in the lush vegetation there. Both maritime and continental climates meet in the park, and this is evident in both the vegetation and the changeable weather conditions.
A path runs through the park, from Siilaskoski, via Kitsiputous waterfall, towards the three countries border mark, and in summer this is the only legal route through the park. The trail is about 11 km long and signposted. There is also the option of taking a trip to or from the park by water taxi or M/S Malla boat. Boats leave either from the dock of the hiking centre, the hotel or the Koltalahti, from where it is a 3 km walk to the three countries border mark.
In winter time it is allowed to ski freely in Malla Nature Reserve, but in summer access is restricted to walking along the marked trail only. Driving by snowmobile through the nature reserve is strictly forbidden. Finland’s nature reserves were founded primarily to preserve the natural state of the area for research purposes. This is the reason that traffic within these areas is either forbidden or limited.