Tsahkaljärvi Science Trail

Tsahkaljärvi Science Trail brings you back in time.

On Tsahkaljärvi Science Trail you get the possibility to visit a Stone Age site, an ancient Sámi site and a Sámi camp site used during the 1960s-70s. You will also learn about the insects which are born in the small ponds located along the trail and how the changing climate is modifying the population of fish in the lakes.

Tsahkaljärvi Science Trail

Below you will see a glimpse of the content of the Tsahkaljärvi Science Trail. You can find more content in the Science Trail App.

Grazing protects plant diversity

Reindeer area

You will most likely see reindeer wandering around while you are out on the hiking trails. This is because Kilpisjärvi and the Käsivarsi area are in a special reindeer husbandry area, where reindeer are allowed to move and graze freely, and because Enontekiö is home to around 20 000 reindeer.

Stone Age life in Kilpisjärvi

A good place to live

People have lived in the Kilpisjärvi area for thousands of years. Even prehistoric inhabitants found the mouth of River Tsahkaljoki a pleasant place to stay. Signs of prehistoric activities, in the form of lithic flakes — waste products from making stone tools — have been found around the lean-to shelter and cabins. The stone tools date to the Stone Age and Early Metal Period and can be anywhere between 10 000 and about 1500 years old.

The future of Lapland lakes

Lapland is warming rapidly, and precipitation has increased in recent decades. Longer and warmer summers favour species range expansions, and especially spring-spawning species, such as the ruffe, perch, and roach, have recently colonized new lakes near Lake Kilpisjärvi. Warming and eutrophication (when the environment, in this case the lake, becomes enriched in nutrients) have been studied most widely in a region stretching from Kilpisjärvi to the Arctic Circle, with research data from 19 lakes.

Emergent aquatic insects

The next time you peer into a pond or lake and see movement in the water, some of it may be caused by swimming aquatic insects. Emergent aquatic insects begin their life cycle as eggs that have been laid on or near water, waiting to hatch in good growing conditions, usually in spring. Once they hatch, they have a swimming life stage (called “larvae”) and will feed and grow in rivers, wetlands, ponds, or lakes.

Lake Tsahkaljärvi gárdi

Lake Tsahkaljärvi gárdi - a recent past Sámi reindeer fencing area

Looking around you, you can notice a round, meadow-like patch of vegetation that stands out as it is not covered by mountain birches which otherwise surround the area. This round area served in the 1960s-1970s as a reindeer calf ear-marking place of the Sámi pastoralists belonging to the local Gova and Labba siidas, reindeer herding communities based on family, livelihood, and territory. Reindeer were corralled and separated within a lightly built twig fence (North Sámi: gárdi) that was used recurrently over the years for the seasonal ear-marking of the animals.

An ancient Sámi site

The eastern end of Lake Tsahkaljärvi (in Sámi: Čáhkáljávri) has been occupied and used by people for millennia. The earliest traces of human activity are lithic flakes found along the shore and dating to Stone Age times. The next traces of human activity date to about 1000 years ago, when early Sámi reindeer herders settled at the river mouth. Sámi pastoralists continued to use this area for seasonal habitation along their annual migrations until the early 20th century.