I would walk 500 miles
I would walk 500 miles
Hiking on the Kungsleden Trail. Photograph by Jens Ottoson/Shutterstock.

I would walk 500 miles

As summer temperatures start to drop and nights become longer, this is a good time to enjoy outdoor life in the mountains before the snow hits. Get your boots ready, a good pair of thick socks and the necessary camping equipment to enjoy breathtaking trails for all type of hikers. By Marina Georgescu

In Sweden there are many fantastic options to choose from the almost 400 hiking trails, all well marked and broken up into sections for different skill levels. If you find one trail too easy or too difficult, you can easily exit the trail and find one more suited to your needs.  If you don’t feel like carrying any equipment at all, or just the basics like your sleeping bag, clothes and food, the STF (Swedish Tourist Association or Svenska Turistföreningen) offers hundreds of well-maintained hostels, mountain stations and huts that can be reserved for a very reasonable price (and some are also free but unfortunately can’t be booked in advance). You can check all the information on their website and successfully plan your next adventure.  

The north rocks!

I would walk 500 miles
Kungsleden (The King’s Trail – established at the end of the 19th century). This trail stretches nearly 400 km, from Abisko National park to Hemavan, and it takes about a month to complete the entire route. Photograph by Jens Ottoson/Shutterstock.

The north boasts one of the best hiking trails in all of Sweden, and now, towards the end of summer, the mosquitoes start disappearing (thank goodness!). The more mild temperatures also make it easier to adjust your clothes to the weather, although you can be unlucky and get a lot of rain – so be prepared – explains Roger Marklund from Ursviken. He tries to hike every year, and the best time in his opinion is at the end of August and beginning of September. His favourite trail is a classic Swedish hiking trail: Kungsleden (The King’s Trail – established at the end of the 19th century). This trail stretches nearly 400 km, from Abisko National park to Hemavan, and it takes about a month to complete the entire route. However, there are numerous entry-and-exit points so you can pick and mix and adapt the hike to how many days you want to hike. Kungsleden has impressive mountain views, rivers and streams along the way, and it is considered one of the most beautiful and scenic trails in Sweden and also the world! 

When you walk this trail there are lot of small cold rivers to drink from so you don’t have to carry around so much water. In summer it’s a flower bomb, all kind of amazing flowers are blooming, while towards the end of August and beginning of September it’s great for blueberries. I love just sitting there in the wild with an amazing view and feast on them, says Roger.

I would walk 500 miles
The view of the glacier lake from the top of Norra Sytertoppen. Photograph by Roger Marklund.

His favourite summit trail is Norra Sytertoppen close to Hemavan, that has a nice glacier lake which you can see from the top (if the weather is right).

Another hike he has done (see photo of Roger and family below), and one of the most popular in the North and in Sweden, is the Kebnekaise.  Known as Sweden’s highest mountain at 2,106 meters, it is very attractive to hikers who want to add a milestone to their list.  It is an 18 km round trip to the summit that is possible for most hikers. However it is a trail that is best done before the snow comes (during July and until the end of August – beginning of September tops!).  Since the terrain changes daily, the best thing is to check with the guides at STF Kebnekaise Fjällstation (mountain station) open until the 18th of September this year, before heading out.  This mountain station has all the facilities including a restaurant and accommodation. The STF also has mountain cabins along the route with basic facilities and which you can check in advance on their website.

According to Roger to hike the Kebnekaise you need at least 4 days if you are not using a helicopter to get to the mountain station (say what?!), or you can also take a boat and save some time or maybe use “the short path” with a guide and some mountain climbing equipment.  Otherwise it’s a long path, with some struggle but no need for equipment, except for the last meters on the icy top where you need iron grips on your feet for safety since there are hundred meters free falls.

It’s a beautiful, but exploited and crowded climb because of it’s popularity, he adds.  

I would walk 500 miles
Enjoying the Kebnekaise mountain trail. Known as Sweden’s highest mountain at 2,106 meters, it is very attractive to hikers who want to add a milestone to their list. Photograph by Jens Ottoson/Shutterstock.

Why Sápmi and not Lapland?

Today the name Lapp and Lapland are considered by many Sámi (indigenous habitants of Sápmi) as a derogatory term. Scandinavians have long used the word Lapp to refer to them, where one of the meanings of the term ”Lapp” is ”a patch of cloth for mending” – suggesting that the Sami wear patched clothes out of poverty and therefore making the word ”Lapp” offensive.  Be woke!

So in Sápmi (Swedish Lapland) you can also explore 4 national parks: Sarek, Padjelanda/Badjelánnda, Muddus/Muttos and Stora Sjöfallet/Stuor Muorkke.  These parks have magnificent wilderness of high mountains of Sarek (often called Western Europe’s last wilderness), the large alpine lakes of Pejelanta/Badjelánnda, the extensive river delta in the Rapa Valley, as well as forests and marshes. There is a rich biodiversity with many species of fauna and flora typical of the northern Fennoscandian region. This is the region where the Sámi lead their herd of reindeers towards the mountains and thru the landscape, and can be a marvellous thing to see and experience, as well as the richness and history of their culture. 

Other favourite hikes in Sweden are: Höga Kusten (High Coast Trail), 

Sörmlandsleden (Sörmland hiking trail), S:t Olavsleden (The Pilgrim Path), Utvandrarleden (The Emigrant Trail) and Vasaloppsleden (Vasalopp Trail), amongst many others.  There is a lot of information online on the STF website as well as Visit Sweden with detailed descriptions of all the hikes in Sweden, where to find accommodation, as well as maps of the different trails. You just need to decide a date and pack!

Allemansrätten or Freedom to roam

Maybe you have heard this word before and have asked a Swedish friend about it, or you are still wondering what it exactly entails. It is important to understand, and here we hope to provide a fairly good explanation.

The Swedish government established in 1994 that notwithstanding the right to own property “everyone shall have access to nature in accordance with allemansrätten”.  It is a marvellous concept created for everyone to be able to enjoy nature, even if the land is privately owned, by giving to ALL the right to walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp on any land with the exception of private gardens, the immediate vicinity of a dwelling house (70 mts) and land under cultivation. Some restrictions apply for nature reserves and other protected areas.  

This law also gives you the freedom to pick wild flowers, mushrooms and berries, bathe in any lake or river and use an unpowered boat (unless 

explicitly forbidden), visit beaches and walk the shorelines, catch fishes in the five big lakes and along the coastline.  All you need is common sense and to always keep in mind the law’s motto: ”Inte störa, inte förstöra” – which means “do not disturb, do not destroy”.  The tricky part can be with private roads, since in theory you can drive on them unless there is a sign that says otherwise, but some owners can be picky and get in a bad mood if you use their road even if there is no sign that says you can’t. 

So be prepared to maybe offer an apology or blame Google maps for taking you down that road without any warning. 

In any case this “freedom to roam” is one of Sweden’s signature brands, like “no need to buy bottled water because there is perfectly good potable water directly from the tap” and is advertised at Arlanda airport, for example.  In fact, Visit Sweden signed up the whole country on Airbnb (https://news.airbnb.com/sweden-lists-entire-country-on-airbnb/)  and you can actually see the video about it on YouTube.  So, without any question, we should feel good to live in land where nature is a protagonist, and where we have a house the size of the country to lounge and relax in, while enjoying the different and magnificent landscapes it has to offer.



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