Soini – the pearl of South Ostrobothnia
Soini offers natural beauty and stunning hiking routes amid varied terrain formed by strangmoors, numerous lakes and handsome ridges. The area also boasts South Ostrobothnia’s highest point, Raitamäki. In Soini, visitors can experience colourful stories, old traditions and mythical nature in all seasons. Because the area lies above sea level, snow cover is guaranteed in winter.
Natural beauty and extensive hiking trails
Soini offers ideal conditions for hiking and relaxing in the great outdoors. Its residents are particularly proud of the region’s pristine bog lands, forests and lakes. A wide range of marked hiking trails ensures that everyone can find a suitable route. The E6 European long-distance path, which runs from Kilpisjärvi all the way to Turkey, also connects Vuorenmaa in Soini with Ähtäri Zoo. The Arpainen hiking trail, which is part of the E6 path, allows hikers to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Suomenselkä formation and the meandering Kuninkaanjoki. In addition, you can find shorter routes, including the Hermanni and Kuninkaanpuisto trails.
The area also offers a wide range of other outdoor activities: cross-country cycling, birdwatching, hunting, fishing and berry-picking. In winter, visitors can make the most of the area’s numerous ski tracks and or go downhill skiing at Vuorenmaa Ski Centre. You can also enjoy a dip in a lake from one of the area’s numerous beaches, some of which have a lean-to or places for open fires.
Rich culture and history
Soini’s long history in its secluded location surrounded by forests still gives the village, with its wooden houses, its special atmosphere. Between the 18th and 20th centuries, the area was known for its tar-burning operations, and hundreds of the old tar-burning pits still remain. The old traditions are also commemorated by a memorial by Antti Maasalo. For anyone interested in military history or history in general, the Kuninkaantupa Museum and the local history museum make interesting places to visit. The studio of Reijo Kivijärvi, one of Finland’s most notable naïve painters, and the outbuildings, including a traditional smoke sauna and shingle factory, are also worth of a visit.
The world’s only pauper woman statue for collecting alms still stands outside the bell tower of Soini Church. Local stories are full of strong female characters, from lumberjack Motti-Milia and tradeswoman Eve to modern-day beauty queens and hammer throwers.
Numerous events and activities
During the summer months, Soini hosts numerous events that attract the top names of their fields and bring joy to visitors. The Soini nature and outdoor fair, music and gastronomy event Soinillinen, and the Wanahan ajan Kruunuhäät folk dance event, are particularly popular and attract a large number of visitors from further afield. At the Arpaisten patikka hiking event, walkers can enjoy a unique experience amid the autumn colours.
Vuorenmaa Ski Centre is developing into a year-round outdoor centre that offers activities from downhill skiing to recreational activities. The Lukkarila Equine Centre and Wuohela Goat Treks offer visitors of all ages the opportunity to enjoy the company of animals. You can also put your geocaching or frisbee golf skills to the test in Lintuharju. The region offers a wide range of accommodation in idyllic locations, which make an ideal base for day trips to western Finland’s most exciting destinations. Ähtäri Zoo, Tuuri department store, Kuortane Sports Resort, Härmä’s PowerPark, Saarijärvi’s Adventure Park Veijari, Seinäjoki’s Ideapark and Dudesons Activity Park are all located within an hour’s drive.
On the Arpainen trail, hikers, cross-country cyclists and skiers can enjoy the typical natural features of the Suomenselkä region, including the handsome ridges, strangmoors and numerous lakes. The highlights of the route, which travels across varied terrain, include the Arpainen ridge formation, the culturally significant Löytöperä and the Matosuo bog area with its duckboards and numerous bird species.
Part of the E6 European long-distance path, the Arpainen trail boasts one of Finland’s most southern wilderness huts. Open to everyone, the Arpainen hut and sauna are located at the border of Ähtäri and Soini.
The annual Arpaisten patikka hiking event offers an easy way to explore the trail. Additional information and maps are available at www.arpainen.fi/