Venture off-road in the Swedish wilderness
Sweden’s countryside is free for everyone to enjoy and the right of public access applies to cyclists as well as those on the back of a horse. Set off along Sweden’s many peaceful country paths and forest-trails and take in its varied terrain, spanning sweet-smelling flower meadows, shorelines and pine tree forests that seem to stretch on endlessly – almost half of the country in fact is covered by forest.
Given the vast expanse of countryside Sweden has to offer, it might be tempting to opt for a motor-driven vehicle, but please be aware that driving on bare ground with any form of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) is prohibited. This applies to all motor-propelled vehicles, including mopeds, 4WDs, camper vans and even electric bicycles.
The ban on caravans, ATVs and the like, on all types of countryside trails – and indeed open terrain in general – has been implemented to protect wildlife, safeguard nature and ensure that the Swedish countryside remains the peaceful haven that it is.
There are a few exceptions to the rule however, including off-road driving directly associated with agriculture or forestry, engineering work for public utilities and work related to reindeer herding.
Hop on your bicycle and go off-road in the Swedish countryside
Pedal through the Swedish wilderness on your bike – cycling, including mountain biking, is part of the right of public access. Unless the local municipality or police have issued regulations with a “No Cycling” road sign, there’s no ban on cycling along Sweden’s well-established network of jogging and hiking trails. But do bear in mind that the vast majority of trails were originally established as footpaths for walkers, well before the current popularity of mountain-biking. Therefore, cyclists should limit their speed accordingly, and give way to any joggers or walkers.
Show the same respect when cycling on paths used for trail riding, as a horse taken by surprise can result in dire accidents. If you are on a trail that is frequently used for horse riding, you’ll usually find a sign to indicate this.
A few tips for off-road terrain cyclists
- You may cycle cross-country along private roads and countryside trails, but never ride across the grounds of a house, as this would disturb the residents.
- Make sure not to pedal across ground that is sensitive, soft and easily damaged, such as lichen and moss-covered soil.
- Generally, avoid unmade paths, particularly during spring and autumn when the ground tends to be wet.
- Do not cycle across cultivated land, such as gardens, farmed fields or plant nurseries.
- Special rules for cyclists often apply in national parks and nature reserves. Cycling is in some cases banned altogether on these types of sites or confined to certain trails. You may come across a few restrictions when cycling in Sweden, but you’ll be struck by how well suited much of the terrain is – a ride along a tree-lined trail in the Swedish countryside is hard to beat.
Caravanning is a popular way to spend the summer vacation in Sweden. While some prefer to stop at caravan parks with amenities like electricity and water, others search the land for peace and quiet.
Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se