Trekking the Kungsleden
The King's Trail through Northern Sweden
By Mike Laing
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.
SeasonsBest walked between late June and early September.
CentresAbisko, Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Nikkaluokta, Saltoluokta, Kvikkjokk, Jäkkvik, Adolfsström, Bäverholmen, Ammarnäs, Hemavan
DifficultyThe five trail sections are non-challenging and suitable for all able walkers; a thru-hike is more demanding in terms of time, commitment and planning. Many opt to make use of the huts found on three of the trail's sections to minimise weight. Some sections are suitable for family groups.
Must SeeAbisko, Nikkaluokta, Lapone Mountains, Arjeplog Fells, Aktse, Syterskalet and Tjäktjavagge glacial valleys, five national parks including Sarek, Kebnekaise (Sweden's highest peak at 2098m), Hemavan
Sweden's most famous long-distance trail, the Kungsleden (King's Trail) traverses the land of the Sámi people and the midnight sun, stretching 460km between Abisko and Hemavan. Around half the route lies within the Arctic Circle showcasing an ever-changing landscape of snowy mountains, deep glacial valleys, open fell, expansive lakes and verdant forest. The fully waymarked trail is comprised of five continuous and distinct sections: these can be walked individually or a thru-hike will take around a month. The guide also includes the popular Abisko to Nikkaluokta circuit, which can be completed in a week, and an ascent of Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest peak at 2098m.
In addition to clear route description and mapping, you'll find a wealth of practical advice covering accommodation and facilities, equipment and resupply and detailed notes on how to get to and from the section start and finish-points. A Swedish and Fell Sámi glossary can be found in the appendix. Although there are plentiful opportunities for wild camping, three of the five trail sections are equipped with huts (many including a shop and a sauna) making them easily accessible to all. The remaining two sections have a more remote feel that will appeal to those intent on finding some solitude. To add further colour, there are seven mandatory lake crossings on the trail with the option of rowing or using the motorised service: full details are provided in the text.
The Kungsleden passes through five national parks, including Sarek. Other highlights include the striking Tjäktjavagge glacial valley and the famous hay meadows of Aktse, perfectly framed by the azure Lájtávrre delta and the sheer chiselled face of Skierrffe. The Kungsleden invites you to step into a new world, and it may well prove to be the start of a long and rich association involving many repeated visits.
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Mike Laing is a freelance mountaineering instructor based in Snowdonia, North Wales. He has travelled, climbed and trekked extensively in Greenland, South America, Africa, Europe and the Himalaya. Mike is a full member of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) and operates his own business, Snowdonia Climbing.View author profile
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