Baltic Forest Hiking - Practical Info

Services and infrastructure

 The number of accommodation places varies between different sections of the Forest Trail. Information on the accommodations can be found in the description of each section. It gives the name of the accommodation, its coordinates and the  . It is a good idea to book the accommodations in advance, since they tend to be booked during the tourism season. However, during the winter, some accommodations may be closed.

 The availability of catering services varies between the sections. Some sections feature no catering providers at all. Please note that some companies operate only during the summer or at certain times, so it is advisable to call before visiting.

 There are more than 100 publicly accessible, well-developed and free-of-charge picnic areas near the Forest Trail. They have canopies, tables, benches, garbage bins, as well as campfire or grill sites and toilets. There are also picnic areas in campsites and near accommodation places, but seek prior approval from their owners to use them. The symbol  in the guidebook indicates campsites available for tenting. The symbol indicates places where campfires and grills are allowed.

 Shops can be found in the more populated areas. Keep in mind that there are some sections of the Forest Trail with no shops within one or more days’ walking distance. This information is given in the descriptions of the sections.

Public transport (mostly bus, train in some parts) is available in the immediate vicinity of the Forest Trail, but check the running schedules ahead of time. In Latvia: www.1188.lv/satiksme, in Estonia: www.peatus.ee, www.tpilet.ee. You can use the urban public transport in Riga and Tallinn. Estonia’s islands can be reached via small boats: Prangli (www.tuuleliinid.ee), Naissaar (www.monica.ee), Pedassaar (mart.praks@gmail.com, +372 5040792)

Section description and maps provide information on ATMs, pharmacies and the nearest tourism information centres . In case of emergency:   112!

How to complete the Forest Trail?

  • The Forest Trail consists of 50 separate sections which are described in the guide.
  • Each day is considered to be a separate, independent route. The guide uses   as symbols for the recommended starting and end points for each specific section. By combining sections, you can complete multiple sections as one route.
  • The Forest Trail can be started from any physically available location and it can be hiked in both ways (there are markers in both directions).
  • Depending on your interests and possibilities, some sections can be covered by public transport rather than on foot. You can also make a deal with the owners of accommodation places to arrange personal and luggage transport.
  • You can get printable descriptions of the route for each day and download the GPX files at baltictrails.eu/forest.
  • There are specific markers on trees and other objects along the route to help you get your bearings in nature and not lose track of the road. In populated areas, the Forest Trail is marked by stickers  on road signs and other objects. On the coast of the Gulf of Finland, from Toila to Tallinn, the Forest Trail can also be marked by , and in places where the trail overlaps with the trails developed by the Estonian State Forests (RMK), marking like this will appear.
  • Significant tourist sites along the Forest Trail are marked by information boards.
  • In wooded areas, the Forest Trail leads along small forest or rural roads and trails, where possible. In order for the Forest Trail to exist as one, uninterrupted route, in some parts it runs along the side of asphalt roads. On the northern shores of Lake Peipus and in some places along the Gulf of Finland, it runs along sandy beaches or stony, rocky and sometimes overgrown shores. In cities and settlement areas, the Forest Trail leads along pedestrian sidewalks or the side of the street.
  • The maps attached to the guide will help you complete the Forest Trail. You can also ask the locals for directions.
  • HOW DO I TRAVEL ALONG THE FOREST TRAIL IF I LEAVE MY CAR AT THE STARTING POINT?
    • Where possible, you can use the public transport to get back to your car and head to the place of accommodation or another destination.
    • You can make an agreement with the owner of the accommodation place regarding transfer services. That is, the host can take you back to your car or pick you or your belongings up, if necessary.
    • Hikers can organise their transportation by leaving one car at the end point and another one at the starting point. In this way you can use the car in the end point to return to the car parked at the starting point.

The total length of the Forest trail route is ~ 1060 km (~ 1.3 million steps), of which 335 km are in Latvia. Most of the route in Latvia (60%) leads on forest roads and trails, about a third (35%) on gravel roads. Only a small part of the route, which is outside the big cities (5%), leads on asphalt roads.

The information compiled in this guide and the content of the GPX files correspond to the situation in 2019. When using the GPX files, keep in mind that in forests, cities and populated areas, by bluffs, etc., the itinerary of the Forest Trail is/may be shifted (there might be an error).

Useful advice

Cash and documents

  • It is recommended that you take some cash (EUR) with you on the trip, as in some places credit cards are not accepted and ATMs are not available.
  • You must carry identity documents valid for travel when crossing the border between Latvia and Estonia.

 Equipment

  • Closed footwear is best for stony and rocky sections such as the shores of the Gulf of Finland, while in places with an overgrown coast, water-resistant footwear will come in handy. Water and wind resistant clothing will also prove useful.
  • A medical kit containing band-aids is advisable, especially for novice hikers.
  • Grabbing a power bank for your phone may be a good idea.

Tents and campfires

  • Places where tents can be set up and campfires lit are indicated in the descriptions of the sections. Look for more information in local .
  • If no firewood is provided, dry and fallen branches can be collected for campfire. Always make sure that the fireplace is properly extinguished. It is forbidden to light campfires during periods of high fire danger.

In Latvia and Estonia, in accordance with safety regulations, it is permitted to use a portable Primus stove for making food, coffee or tea. Gas cylinders can be purchased at the following stores near the Forest trail route (contact in advance):

Rīga

Shop “Gandrs”, Rīga, Kalnciema street 28, +371 25445223

Shopping Center "Alfa", TP "Alfa", Brīvības gatve 372, +371 22018137

Cēsis

Shopping Center “Mājai un dārzam”, Lapsu street 31, +371 27861641

Valmiera

Shop “Gandrs”, Rīgas street 27, +371 22018353

Tartu

MatkaSport store, Ringtee 78, +372 53016181

MatkaSport store, Lõunakeskus, Ringtee 75, +372 6813147

Store “Magaziin”, Ringtee 10, + 372 5552 0333 

Jõhvi

Tools market, Tooristamarket, Narva mnt., 143A, +372 53458401

Rakvere 

Tools market, Lõõtspilli 2, Lääne - Virumaa, Rakvere, +372 51973977 

Tallinn

Tools market, Pärnu mnt 238, Tallinn, +372 53440330

“MatkaSport store”, Järve shopping Center, Pärnu mnt 234, +372 6813140

Safety and communication

  • If you have any questions about the Forest Trail, contact the local .
  • In some places, mobile network coverage may be unavailable. Next to the Russian border, your phone might connect to Russian mobile operators.
  • Most accommodations and catering facilities offer Wi-Fi.
  • Cliffs and bluffs consist of unconsolidated sedimentary rocks. Landslides and landfalls may form near them.
  • If strong wind is blowing, approaching places where the bluffs are washed against by waves may be dangerous; they should be bypassed.
  • Mosquito repellent will come in handy in warm weather. Ticks may be encountered in bushes and grasslands.
  • There are no plant or animal species which are poisonous or dangerous to humans (including jellyfish) in the Baltic Sea or inland waters. The viper is the only poisonous snake species in the Baltic States. It usually won’t attack unless threatened. They inhabit clearings and the edges of a forest overgrown with grass and bushes, bogs and sparse pine forests with heather and forest berry bushes. They like to bask in the sun on trails.
  • If you need to call the police, dial the numbers  110 or 112.
  • Former military sites that are not open to visitors may be unsafe.

Eco-friendly travelling

If you are travelling with a dog

  • Each local government determines where dogs are permitted or where you can walk a dog without a leash. These rules are subject to change, so the safest way to clarify the situation is to call the local government .
  • In most cities and villages outside a demarcated area, the dog must be on a leash. It is forbidden to bring dogs into children playgrounds, sports grounds and recreational areas, especially in designated swimming areas. When entering the picnic areas indicated in the guide, the dog must be on a leash.
  • As you walk through the forest, take extra care to make sure that the dog does not disturb nesting birds and other wildlife.