Published 21.02.2023

Ski-lovers’ favourite tracks

Ski-lovers’ favourite tracks

There are some fantastic ski tracks in Estonia where you can hone your skills, enjoy some fresh air and rack up the miles. A good overview and the latest information on the tracks and their condition can be found on the Estonian Health Trails website: There are plenty of great ski tracks in Estonia, and everyone will find one close to home.

Mart Kevin Põlluste, the leading figure of Team Nordic Jobs Worldwide, Estonia's promising skiing team, offered his help and expertise to provide useful information to clients and friends of Holm Bank, which is supporting the team, by mapping out both better and less well known ski tracks in Estonia.

Mart Kevin begins by expressing his deep gratitude to the people who maintain the tracks. Athletes know how much time and effort is put in by them to make the tracks fun for skiers. He says that their team, which includes a raft of ambitious athletes like Henri Roos, who represented Estonia at the last Winter Olympics, Alvar Johannes Alev, cross-country orienteering skier Mattis Jaama, Estoloppet superstar Merilin Jürisaar and young talents Uku Leipalu, Olle Ilmar Jaama, Kätlin Kukk and others, have skied practically every track in Estonia. He highlights the team’s undisputed favourites.

Haanja tracks and ski centre

We start down south, in Estonia’s own Alps (a.k.a. Haanja), before moving north along various tracks. In the rolling hills of Võru County we find the highest uplands in Estonia: Haanja. According to Mart Kevin, there are tracks here for both casual skiers and serious competitors. “Something for everybody!” he smiles. “You can put yourself to the test on the marathon route, where the gradient sometimes reaches 30 degrees and the descents are so technical that even the strongest athletes need to keep their wits about them. But you can also choose tracks where you’ll simply enjoy long, beautiful, sweeping descents and where the climbs are more of a treat than hard work. Haanja is all about diversity!” He emphasises that the region is full of wonderful places. “There are picturesque spots around every bend and hill if you want to capture your athleticism in photos,” he says. “On the Haanja marathon route, in fine weather, it can feel as if you’re skiing in actual mountains!” Mart Kevin is very much drawn to this terrain. There is also a ski centre in Haanja, which can be used by athletes and amateurs alike. 

It is interesting to note that in Haanja snow always remains after having melted elsewhere. Mart Kevin says that last year snow was still seen in Haanja as late as 17 May. “It seems absurd, but a few years ago we went skiing in Haanja on the 1st of May,” he laughs. “The Haanja tracks are frequented by four good men who, with their skills and experience, have created a track that can be compared to the best in the world.”

Värska & Verhulitsa – little known but super fun tracks

“Besides Haanja, Värska is also very close to our hearts, where a couple of ardent sports fans take care of the local ski tracks,” Mart Kevin explains. “It’s often here that some of the first snowmaking machines in Estonia are put to use, ensuring a high-quality kilometre-long circuit next to Värska School as soon as the first frost arrives.”

A few kilometres away, on playful terrain in the beautiful pine forests of Verhulitsa, there are ski circuits ranging from one to five kilometres in length. “It offers just the right level of difficulty, being suitable for beginners, amateurs and more demanding enthusiasts alike,” says Mart Kevin, pointing out that it is home to the most south-easterly ski track in Estonia, where border guards can be seen patrolling the adjacent car park. “It’s better to be prepared for such an encounter than to be startled by their sudden appearance!" he remarks.


“The well-maintained ski tracks in the village of Lähte near Tartu have become popular among a lot of Tartu residents,” Mart Kevin says. “The main track winds around the local lake. The lengths of the tracks vary between 1, 2, 3 and 5 kilometres. The track’s equipped with lighting and there’s also a live camera attached to the lookout tower, which can be used to monitor track conditions in real time. The person who looks after the track regularly posts information about the conditions on a dedicated Instagram account.” Such is the added value offered by the Lähte ski tracks. Mart Kevin also suggests that ski enthusiasts who want to enjoy a more leisurely skiing experience try the Lähte-Vedu track, which is about 10 kilometres long, provided the snow conditions are good. “In spring you can ski the Lähte fields when they’re covered in this sort of crust,” he explains. “It’s a liberating experience every skier should try.”


Moving up along the west coast we reach Jõulumäe, which every young skier has visited at least once, as at least one competition is held here every winter. Mart Kevin describes this ski centre in Pärnu County, which is characterised by its lovely pine forests, dunes and excellent tracks: “Jõulumäe has natural snow tracks that are pretty easy going, and where you can enjoy privacy and a beautiful natural setting,” he says. “Compared to South Estonia, Jõulumäe is slightly less snowy, but every year its amazing track workers manage to prepare top-class ski tracks using snowmaking machines and artificial snow stored over the summer, with not a single bit of uneven ground underfoot!Artificial tracks are made rather narrower in Jõulumäe, but with a very thick base. It’s thanks to this that they last well into late spring, when the sun’s shining and the weather’s warm. As long as the tracks are still maintained in spring, skiing on a quality track at this time of year in Estonia is a unique feeling that can only be enjoyed in a few places around the country.”


“The best new track for us in Lääne County in recent years is found at the only real ski centre in Palivere,” says Mart Kevin. He has nothing but praise for the person who takes care of the track. “Considering how flat Lääne County is, the Palivere track utilises Pikajalamäe’s ascents really well, twisting up and down several times, making the track both varied and versatile,” he explains. “Along with the partially lit ski track, there’s also a sledding and tubing slope with a lift that’s open from time to time.” He adds that the six-kilometre track is definitely worth discovering.


Around Aegviidu we find a network of tracks that offer Tallinn residents an unrivalled skiing experience. Mart Kevin points out that the area represents the perfect opportunity for people living in North Estonia to prepare for the Tartu Marathon. "The 65 kilometre Kõrvemaa-Aegviidu-Nelijärve-Jäneda-Valgehobusemäe circuit is an ideal benchmark,” he notes. “The entire course offers a classic experience: it may be light in snow in places due to intermittent snowfall, but the tracks at the Kõrvemaa and Valgehobusemäe centres are constantly maintained.” He adds that those who do not like to drive can come by train and leave their belongings at the Aegviidu Health Depot, which is situated just 50 metres from the railway station.

“The tracks start next to the station, and you can choose between heading towards Kõrvemaa or hitting the President’s hiking trail, which also leads to the Valgehobusemäe hiking trail,” he explains, having completed the routes many times himself. Mart Kevin has plenty of inspiring ideas. He shares them generously, starting with the suggestion of skiing from one centre to another, taking a short break, practising double-push skiing on the Valgehobusemäe hiking trail, which is 8 kilometres long and crosses the President’s hiking trail, going down the Kõrvemaa tracks along the streams through untouched bogs and forests, choosing 19 kilometre and 24 kilometre routes, and more. The skier remarks that the President’s hiking trail, which is 10 kilometres long (Aegviidu-Nelijärve-Jäneda), is relatively narrow and more commonly frequented by walkers, and that road crossings have to be taken into account as well. “If there are snowboarding or downhill skiing enthusiasts in your family, the Valgehobusemäe lift slope is just waiting to be discovered,” he adds, rounding off his exciting and information-packed list.


“Let’s round out our voyage of discovery in the capital!” Mart Kevin smiles. “We chose Pirita out of all Tallinn’s sites because it probably has one of the most frequently used health trails in Estonia. For Tallinn residents, Nõmme, Keila and other nearby ski tracks are also ideal training locations. It depends where you live and where it’s most convenient for you to go. When it snows enough, there’s a scenic route along the Pirita River, just 10 minutes from the city centre. It’s worth remembering that the track can get quite crowded at peak times and that parking can be difficult nearby.” He recommends approaching from Kloostrimetsa and the Velotrek side and crossing the Lükati ski bridge, where it is usually calmer and easier to go at your own pace. “The route’s characterised by rather flat terrain, with short, steep river valley ascents,” he explains. “We like to do short accelerated climbs on those ascents. You might want to try it as well!”

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