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Typical suspension bridge on the Kungsleden trail

Embark on an epic adventure along the Kungsleden Trail

The Kungsleden is as varied as the Arctic wilderness is vast, traversing snow-topped mountain ranges, expansive open fell, verdant forests and crossing lakes both large and small.

The Kungsleden Trail begins at Abisko and heads south to Hemavan in five continuous yet distinct sections. For half its length the Kungsleden, also known as the Kings Trail lies within the Arctic Circle and consequently a large measure of the summer walking season takes place in 24-hour daylight. This is also Sápmi, home of the Sámi people whose close relationship with the reindeer has underpinned their existence since the last ice age. The reindeer are mostly absent during the walking season, although the Sámi are evidenced by their summer villages, their traditional dwellings (kåtor), reindeer enclosures (rengärden) and remote huts.

The trail is well marked and signposted throughout. Bridges are provided where the trail crosses rivers, and boardwalks have been laid across the boggiest terrain. Those with more time can link multiple sections or even complete the entire trail, an undertaking requiring between four and five unhurried weeks for the average walker.

Further interest is provided by the seven mandatory boat crossings along the trail’s length. Most have rowing boats in situ provided by the STF, while others have motorised services; many crossings have both running in parallel. If you are lucky you may spot otters beside the rivers, moose in the marshy river deltas, white-tailed eagles soaring overhead or peregrines diving from cliffs on high. Sweden’s ‘Big Four’ are the brown bear, wolverine, lynx and wolf; all are wary of humans and are unlikely to be seen. Reindeer are largely absent in the summer, having migrated westwards to the higher, cooler grazing on the Norwegian border.


The entire landscape is paradise for wild campers, although three of the five sections are furnished with regular Swedish Tourist Association (STF) mountain huts or fjällstugor. These huts are manned by volunteer wardens and provide a host of facilities that include bunkbed accommodation, wood-fired saunas, basic supplies, a shop, weather forecasts and cooking/dining areas; wild campers can also use these facilities on a ‘day visitor’ basis as they pass through. Those staying at the huts are expected to assist with housekeeping tasks such as fetching water, disposing of waste water (or slask) and chopping wood; however, the burden is never onerous.

Allemansrätten allows the public to camp overnight and, with the exception of the Abisko National Park on Stage 1, you are at liberty to wild camp anywhere along the Kungsleden. Those choosing to camp will enjoy maximum freedom on the trail but still be able to use fjällstuga facilities for bastu (sauna), as day visitors pass through, for resupply, camping or even sleeping inside occasionally. Good camping is not found everywhere, and forests generally provide limited camping opportunities.

Those undertaking the circuit between Abisko and Nikkaluokta will pass close to Sweden’s highest peak, Kebnekaise (2098m), which can be climbed via the non-technical Västra Leden (West Route) in a single day’s return trip. Another worthwhile deviation from the trail is the ascent of Skierffe, whose chiselled and proud profile overlooks Aktse on the second section between Saltoluokta and Kvikkjokk.

The third and fourth sections that lie between Kvikkjokk and Ammarnäs do not have manned huts. These are the quietest sections on the trail and have a remote and spacious atmosphere. Resupply on this 180km stretch is facilitated at the small and delightful communities encountered at Jäkkvik, Adolfsström and Bäverholmen. Along the entire trail walkers will encounter small wooden emergency shelters that afford respite in inclement weather. These are unlocked and are equipped with emergency rations and wood stove fuel; such shelters are not intended for pre-planned use.

Trekking the Kungsleden - Front Cover

Trekking the Kungsleden

The King's Trail through Northern Sweden


Guide to the Kungsleden (King's Trail), Sweden's premier long-distance trek. Lying mostly within the Arctic Circle, the 460km route across Lappland is presented in 28 stages but can be walked in shorter sections if preferred. Includes an optional ascent of Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest peak, plus notes on huts and wild camping.

More information

When to walk the Kungsleden Trail

The summer season is mid-June until the end of September and it is only during this period that the STF huts will be open and boat services are operating to make the water crossings (between mid-February and the beginning of May the huts are open for the winter season and enjoyed by cross-country skiers). Insect numbers can be high on the trail and those wishing to avoid them altogether should plan to visit at the start or finish of the summer season, bearing in mind that the start of the season can see deep residual snow on the higher passes. The Alpine flowers are at their best early in the season, while fruits such as lingon, cloudberry and bilberry ripen towards the summer’s end.


Transport and resupply require some forward planning as the Kungsleden traverses a remote landscape where settlements are scattered and small. Purchasing food and stove fuel at the huts on the sections that have them will minimise rucksack weight but will be relatively expensive and choice will be restricted. It is possible to resupply at section ends and this will prove to be more economical. Swedish society is almost cashless and cards are accepted virtually everywhere, save at the remotest of the STF huts. Local transport services are limited and, if you are entering or exiting anywhere other than Abisko and Hemavan, it can take up to two full days of travelling to reach a major airport such as Stockholm.

Planning your walk

The overriding factor for most walkers will be the amount of time they have available. Walking the entire Kungsleden Trail end to end takes over four weeks, assuming a couple of the shorter stages are combined and a day or two kept in hand for rest days and any unforeseen delays. Those unable to commit for this long will be constrained to undertaking a limited number of sections, completing the trail over a number of visits or taking some shortcuts such as those on stages 21 and 23 which miss out Rävfalls and Aigert.

A key consideration is how much use you will make of the fjällstugor and fjällstationer. While they are expensive, they do offer reassurance to some walkers and also a substantial weight saving in terms of equipment that needs not be carried; food, stove, fuel, tent, sleeping bag and roll mat.

For those on a budget, another way to keep costs down is to make full use of the STF rowing boats where they are supplied, although this will slow your progress. Are you going to factor in rest days? Are you going to need them? Jäkkvik, Adolfsström and Ammarnäs are all beautiful and tempting places to stop for a day or two, to rest, resupply and discover the local area.

In which direction will you walk?

Most walkers, especially those through-hiking, travel from north to south along the trail. This is a particularly good choice if you are walking at the season’s end as winter comes sooner to the north than it does to the south. Southwards is also the manner in which the Kungsleden evolved over time and it seems a natural and popular way to travel. Walking northwards has its merits, especially at the season’s start and, for the reverse reasons stated for heading south at the season’s end. Heading northwards will place the sun at your back, which will aid photography and also maximise the efficiency of any solar charging device being carried on your rucksack. Finally, those walking northwards are more likely to find two rowing boats waiting for them at crossings and are therefore less likely to have to make three crossings in order to return a boat.


The Kungsleden has a reputation for being challenging to access and travel around, and to some extent this is true given the remoteness of the region. Walkers are advised to research their travel options fully as onward connections in more remote areas are not always daily or frequent. While the Kungsleden’s extremities at Abisko and Hemavan are readily accessed, getting to and from the intermediate sections is more complex and requires careful research. The greatest transport challenges will be faced by those planning to walk non-consecutive sections, while through-hikers will benefit from very good transport links at their start and finish.

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