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Kungsleden, Sweden

Kungsleden in Sweden is not one of the more famous hikes of the world, but it makes our list due to its unique wilderness viewing opportunities, at the doorstep of Europe. Welcome to Lapland. Kungsleden is a long trail, 440km in its entirety, so we'll just describe one shorter portion of it here - a comfortable 104km, 5 to 7 day trip, for the folks who are on a tighter schedule than the mammoth longer trail would demand.


Kungsleden is big Arctic scenery: think gorges, glaciers, surging rivers, epic ranges. On top of that, there's that peculiar Arctic light, which casts the scenery about you in magical relief.

The meaning of Kungsleden is King of Trails. You will start this journey at Abisko in the north, and then trod southward until the Sami village of Nikkaluokta (hardier souls will continue for a month's venture to Hemavan).

Come here to gawk at Tjaktjapasset - it's a mouthful, and it's Sweden's premiere peak, at 2113m.

Even though the landscape is rugged, the amenities along the way are distinctly Swedish, well-built, well-planned - take the bridges, for example, or the thoughtfully placed huts.


If you manage to make it to Kungsleden from the USA or Canada, or anywhere in Europe, you may feel a certain nostalgia, for there are so few campers out here that you can simply drink from the rivers, pitch your tent pretty much anywhere - it's that big and pristine.

To get to Kungsleden, you can fly from Stockholm to Kiruna. Then you can hop on a bus to Abisko. At Abisko Mountain Station, you can wine and dine, pick up maps and food, and stock up on any last-minute backpacking gear that you may have forgotten. From there, you will likely make it to Abiskojaure, around 15km from Abisko, where there's a designated campsite.

After that, you can continue into the Arctic wilderness, along any path your heart desires. There are several huts located along this route, or you can throw up a tent instead. If you choose to stay in a hut, you will find excellent kitchen facilities, including wood stoves, gas stoves, pots, and perhaps even food for sale.

Caution: be aware that the weather can be very cold here, with sudden snowfalls. Kungsleden is usually hiked from June to September. This is also the time when the huts will be most crowded and noisy, alas.


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