The History of the Nordkalottleden
The Nord Calotte Trail or Arctic Trail
There is relatively little information available about the trail: I have heard of only two guidebooks - one in German and a recent one in Finnish -, found some basic and incomplete descriptions and a few hikers narratives on the web. This is what makes this trail so attractive to me!
Here is a summary of the data gathered mainly from Fell Lapland Visitor Centre in Hetta and by Tytti who works at Kilpisjärvi Visitor Centre in Finnish Lapland:
The Arctic trail is known as Nordkalottleden in Swedish, Nordkalottruta in Norwegian, in Finnish.
This marked trail of a total length of 800 km along the border of Norway, Sweden and Finland, was originally planned in 1977.The Council of State Secretaries of the Scandinavian countries established a commission to elaborate suggestions for a long-distance hiking trail through northern Scandinavia. After more than ten years, in 1989, the plans were finished and the work could begin. In the year 1993 the trail was inaugurated at Treriksröset, the place, where the borders of the countries Norway, Sweden and Finland have one point in common.
The sign of Nordkalottleden as depicted above shows the colors of the flags of the three countries, which are the colours of Sami handicraft as well, and the form symbolizes a trail, the landscape, and the northern lights.
The trail passes through four national parks: Øvre Dividal National Park (Norway), Reisa National Park (Norway), Abisko National Park (Sweden) and Padjelanta National Park (Sweden). In Finland Nordkalottleden Trail leads through Käsivarsi Wilderness Area and Malla Strict Nature Reserve. Everyman's rights are in effect in the wilderness area.
The trail uses old and new tracks and is sometimes well-indicated, sometimes...less. I will let you know once on the field!
About the huts
The huts have been built 1960 - 1970. They were built mostly by Metsähallitus (Administration of Forest). Some of the huts (for example both Halti huts and Saarijärvi hut) have been the cottages of Border guards. When border guards didn’t need the cottages any more, they were handed over to Metsähallitus and that’s how the cottages became open huts for hikers.
The president of that time in Finland, Urho Kalevi Kekkonen (1900-1986), was really keen on to Käsivarsi Wilderness area and spend a lot of time in Meekonjärvi hut and surrounding areas. He spent time there skiing every winter/spring since 1968 and slept in the open hut.