RMK has finished a new 627-kilometre branch of the hiking trail crossing Estonia, from Aegviidu in Harju County down to the centre of Karula National Park in Ähijärv, Võru County.
The newly opened southern branch of the hiking trail is an addition to the first 370–kilometre Oandu–Ikla section of the hiking trail crossing Estonia and completed last year. RMK selected and marked the new branch of the hiking trail, from Aegviidu to Ähijärv, with the help of experienced alpinist and guide Alar Sikk. The new route passes through eight counties – Harju, Lääne-Viru, Järva, Jõgeva, Tartu, Põlva, Võru and Valga.
According to Aigar Kallas, Chairman of the Management Board of RMK, the new section of the hiking trail has been marked in such a way that it passes through as many characteristic places of the region as possible. “Unlike the trail from last year, which is mainly located in forest landscape, the southern trail passes through the agricultural region of Central Estonia as well as the wetlands of Endla and Emajõe–Suursoo. The most exciting places along the hiking trail are still probably located in South Estonia: in Setumaa and Haanja–Karula upland, where landforms going up and down make walking the trail especially diverse and varied,” said Aigar Kallas.
When evaluating the RMK hiking trail, Keit Pentus–Rosimannus, Minister of the Environment, found that there is no better way to understand nature than to experience it first-hand. “In recent years, RMK has made a great effort to allow us all to have the chance to do it comfortably and safely, while disturbing the surrounding environment as little as possible. The new hiking trail takes us to marvellous places, and walking its full length should be included in every true hiker’s plans,” said the Minister of the Environment.
Both the current and new hiking trail branches use kilometre posts made from recycled plastic packaging waste, made in Estonia by OÜ Rexest Grupp. In addition, the entire hiking trail has colour markings: The Oandu–Ikla trail is marked with white–red–white and the Aegviidu–Ähijärv trail with white–green–white.
Some of the “most–most” Estonian places are found along the hiking trail’s Southern branch: the former underground glass sand mine in the Piusa Caves, Estonia’s deepest lake in Rõuge, Suur Munamägi as the highest peak in Estonia, and Vällamägi as the highest place in terms of relative altitude, the River Piusa with the greatest descent in Estonia, Estonia’s highest sandstone outcrop Härma wall, Estonia's southernmost point Naha Village, and Karula, Estonia's smallest national park. Detailed information at: www.loodusegakoos.ee/matkatee-blogi
The idea for the hiking trail dates back to 2000, when RMK first completed an action plan for designing a hiking trail, at the time named “From Sea to Sea”. As a pilot project, RMK prepared a 70–kilometre section from Oandu to Aegviidu. In subsequent years the need arose for the more diverse use of the current infrastructure for moving in nature, and trail users required a longer route. Thus, in 2012, RMK established the Oandu–Ikla hiking trail.
RMK is a profit-making state agency established under the Forestry Act, aimed at sustainable and efficient management of the state forest. RMK grows reforestation material, organises forest works, executes practical nature protection works and is engaged in forest and timber sales. Additionally, RMK establishes opportunities for nature walking and forest holidays in recreation areas, in Estonia’s five national parks and almost 40 other protected areas, and shapes nature awareness. RMK manages 38% of Estonia’s forests.