The Devil’s Loop and Neitvuori mountain at Anttola, Finland

We were driving around through the scenic wonderland of Lakeland Finland and decided we wanted to see the views from a higher vantage point. We scoured the maps and saw that Neitvuori (means Maid Mountain in Finnish) is one of the highest peaks in the area, a good 184m (600ft) above sea level so it would provide us with great views over Saimaa lakes. We drove from Savonlinna towards Neitvuori along road 62 because it also offered us great views while we were driving through small villages, farms, and green forest dotted with blue lakes.

We parked our car at a small parking area next to a sheep farm on Neitvuorentie 660. A note next to the fence said that the farm called Hiidenmaan tila can be rented to outsiders and that it is kept going through volunteer work. The sheep were very curious as soon as they saw us and kept bleating loudly, demanding snacks as payment to walk to the peak. After scratching the ears of most of the herd, we walked past the green meadows and gray rail fence made from old hay poles. The idyllic red cottage stood to the right of us, and the sheep kept chasing us in hopes of more scratches (or maybe the banana they saw me eat). We saw a path heading up to the hill on our left so we headed towards it.

I will say it now and repeat this forever: I don’t know why I always think it’s a great idea to go see the views when I know there is going to be a huge climb to get there. I never learn. The hike uphill was definitely challenging in the mid-day heat of +32°C. Every few minutes we stopped to catch our breath and let our heart rates go down a bit. Slowly but surely, the path snaked its way up the hill. The distance from the cottage to the top of the mountain is only 700m but most of that is uphill so you do feel the burn. There were steps at the most difficult places as well as some ropes to help you keep your balance. Thankfully the rich smell of the forest and the promise of breath-taking views kept us going, and soon we reached the top of the path and the Neitvuori viewpoint.

The views over Saimaa were stunningly beautiful: blue lakes and undulating green mounds as far as the eye can see. The sun shone off the surface of the lakes and warmed the cliffs under our feet. We sat down on the edge of the cliff and just stared in wonder. It was easy to understand why this area is called Savon Sveitsi, the Switzerland of Savonia region.

There was a sign pointing towards Hiijje silimukka (Devil’s Loop in Finnish but more in the local vernacular), which consists of two longer routes around Neitvuori peak area: a 2km hike and a 3,2km hike (Hiijje silimukka ENG). One of the routes even stretches to 13km total (Hiidenkierros complete with map).

As we were exhausted by the heat already after 700m, we decided to leave the rest of it unexplored this time. We just sat and enjoyed the scenery and returned back the same way. The sheep were waiting for us… or more likely for my banana.

Directions

Address: Neitvuorentie 660, Mikkeli. This address has a tiny place where you can park your car or your bikes there for a short while.

How to get there: You can get to Neitvuori by car or by bicycle. Public transportation gets you about 20km from Neitvuori.

  • Car: Just follow the instructions of your navigator. You drive towards Anttola from Mikkeli city (road 62).
  • Bicycle: there are narrow but still well-maintained gravel and asphalt roads for bicycles as well as excellent maps. The bicycle routes follow closely to the car route.

The hiking route: Finnish Metsähallitus provides a map of the hiking trails in the area.

Accessibility: The path is worn and can be strenuous at times (moderate). Depending if you take the short or the longer hiking route, the severity of the climb can vary. You are essentially walking straight to the top of the hill as soon as the hiking path starts so take it easy: the view is not going away. If you have children with you, you may have to help them across some of the trickiest bits like larger tree stumps. There are ropes pointing to the safest areas on the top of Neitvuori but they are not really for safety, rather more for your convenience. So keep an eye on your kids if they tend to run around and/or if they are not used to being in the forest.

When to go: You can visit the mountain and the wonderful views at any time of the year. If you visit during snowy or wintery seasons, make sure you are careful as the climb can be very slippery.

What to wear: Walking shoes and possibly a walking stick if you want extra support while climbing up and down the hillside. Mosquito repellent in the summer. Plenty of water.

More to see

Since you are already in the area, hike the rest of the Hiidenkierros around Neitvuori.

You can also check out the amazing rock paintings at Astuvansalmi.

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