The Baltic Forest Trail

Source: Sven Zacek, Visit Estonia

The Baltic Forest Trail

The Baltic Forest Trail is a breathtaking stretch of hiking trails that extends through the Baltic States. It's part of the larger E11 European hiking trail which starts in the Netherlands and goes up to Estonia's capital city. The 1060 km section that goes between Riga and Tallinn is known as the Metsa Trail. This part of the Baltic Forest Trail places huge importance on nature. As such, visitors see something distinct about the Baltics, making it a popular trail for nature lovers.

Trail in Lahemaa National Park

Photo by: Visit Estonia

The Path

The Metsa Trail is normally divided into 50 one-day sections, each of which is about 20 km. Starting from Riga, the trail takes hikers through the Latvian forest in the northeast of the country before entering the Väike-Palkna Nature Park and crossing the border into Estonia.

Once in Estonia, the trail winds through Haanja where hikers can visit Estonia's highest point, Suur Munamägi, and look over the landscape from the observation tower. After that, the path goes through the homeland of the Seto people in the southeast of Estonia, and then to Lake Peipus. After this, the trail moves along the banks of the lake going north and meeting with the Baltic Sea. And lastly, the trail turns west and ends in Tallinn.

Baltic Forest Trail Sections

Photo by: Visit Estonia

Trail Stops

In Latvia: Riga – Vangazi – Sigulda – Ligatne – Cesis – Valmiera – Strenci – Gaujiena – Trapene – Ape – Korneti;

In Estonia: Haanja – Vana-Vastseliina – Värska – Räpina – Alatskivi – Mustvee – Kauksi – Toila – Kunda – Loksa – Maardu – Tallinn

Along the Estonia section of the trail, you can see more than 400 natural, historical and cultural sites. Additionally, the trail crosses through the historical territories of two small ethnic groups, the Livonians and the Setos.

The Trail Takes Hikers through the Seto Area

Photo by: Setomaa Turism, Visit Estonia

A Trail for all Hikers

Visitors can choose how they want to walk the trail based on their own ability and wants. With 50 different sections, each with its own level of difficulty, there is something for every fitness level. That means everyone can choose to approach the trail in the way that suits them the best.

The Estonia forests are also full of good resting places, with more than 100 along the way. These have different amenities available, including fire pits, grills, and camping areas. Dry toilets and garbage cans are also available at some rest areas.

There is also accommodation along the way, however, you should plan your intended overnight stays well in advance. You should also look up places to eat in advance as many in the area are often purely seasonal. The forest hiking trail is also well connected to local public transport (intercity buses), so you don't necessarily need a car to get to your destination.

The Trail have something for every visitor

Photo by: Mart Vares

Walking through the Baltic Forest Trail

On the forest trail, you cross three national parks.

  • Gauja - the oldest national park in Latvia
  • Alutaguse - the youngest national park in Estonia
  • Lahemaa - the largest and oldest national park in the entire Baltic region

With the different landscapes, animal lovers will find so much to enjoy. Bird watchers can observe species like black storks, spotted eagles, corncrakes, green warblers as well as various species of owls and woodpeckers. You might get a glimpse of the rarely seen beavers and their damns. And in Alutaguse National Park, you can even see bears.

The Trail is perfect for watching wildlife

Photo by: Visit Estonia

Geocaching on the Baltic Forest Trail

The Estonian section of the Baltic Forest Trail is full of treasures hidden on all of the routes. That means you can hike the trail in any direction and let the geocaches show you some interesting pieces of cultural history and nature and also give you food for thought during the long journey.

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is a sort of treasure hunt game that anyone can play anywhere if you have a phone. The goal of geocaching is to find a hidden object that's been placed somewhere. The fun part is that it can take you to new and beautiful locations that you may have never seen before.

Playing is simple and easy. All you need to enjoy it is a geocaching account and a sense of adventure. After that, just look for a geocache near you and follow the coordinates to discover beautiful places and spend some time with family or friends outdoors. It's a way of making the trail more fun even if you can't hike the entire trail.

If you're curious, you can find a list of geocaches on the trail here. So come out to the Baltic Forest Trail and find something fun!

See the Trail For Yourself

The Baltic Hiking Trail is a must-see destination for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. With its variety of sections in Estonia, visitors can find something ideal for them whether they're ambitious long-distance hikers, runners, or someone looking for something calming. Going through the trail, visitors will enjoy different landscapes, scenic views, and even some history. So if you really want to experience feeling in harmony with nature, try out at least one section of the trail!

And if you want to know more, please check out the trail online.

Last updated : 06.08.2021