The King’s Trail has something for everyone
How long is the hike?
The King's Trail, also known as Kungsleden, is Sweden's longest and most famous hiking trail. The entire trail takes about a month to cover but because it’s broken into sections you can choose the length of your hike. The most popular section, which stretches between Abisko and Nikkaluokta, is about 105 km long and will take 10-12 days, although if children are in your party it may take longer. This is where you’ll find stunning scenery and views of Sweden’s highest mountains.
Where to start hiking the King’s Trail
If you choose to hike the most popular and northernmost section, Abisko to Nikkaluokta, you start your hike at the STF Abisko Turiststation and head south. You’ll pass through Abisko National Park, along with vast open areas, plenty of lakes and streams, and along some of the highest mountains in Sweden, which will still be capped in snow even during the warm summer months.
Level of difficulty of the King’s Trail
Despite being located above the Arctic Circle, the King’s Trail is suitable for quite a wide range of hikers. The relatively low altitudes and fairly level terrain, coupled with well-maintained hiking trails, makes the route suitable for most people, even children – although plan a slower pace if you are bringing younger kids. If you make use of the mountain huts you can lighten your pack quite a bit, making the hike itself that much easier.
Where to stay when hiking the King’s Trail
There are about 16 STF (Svenska Turistföreningen/Swedish Tourist Association) mountain huts dotted along the trail, which provide a mattress, pillow, and blanket, as well as simple cooking facilities and food for purchase. The cabins are spaced about 10-20 kilometres apart, so perfect for each day’s hiking. While there are no STF huts between Kvikjokk and Ammarnäs, there are other, quite rustic, huts available.
The mountain huts STF Alesjaure, along the King's Trail, offer simple yet comfortable accommodation during your hike. Photo: Gösta Fries / www.swedishtouristassociation.com
What to pack for hiking Sweden’s King’s Trail
You’ll be sure to encounter rain while hiking the King’s Trail, so a sturdy pair of waterproof hiking boots, jacket and trousers are first on your list. Add to that walking poles to help traverse muddy sections and small streams, along with a waterproof tent, a sleeping mat, and a warm sleeping bag (the nights are generally cold.)
Bring a waterproof tent and a warm sleeping bag to stay comfy when hiking the King's trail in Swedish Lapland. Photo: Cody Duncan / Swedish Lapland
When it comes to food, you can buy food at the many STF huts that dot the trail, but prices are higher than in the supermarkets so pack as much dry food as you can carry. If you plan on cooking bring a portable stove and a pan. Two water flasks (in case one breaks), pain killers in case you get ill, and bug-repellent: mosquitoes are notorious in northern Sweden.
Most importantly, bring a couple of disposable shopping bags so you can leave the landscape as pristine as you found it.
A pretty well kept secret – The Southern King’s Trail
In the 70s, the authorities hatched a plan to extend the King’s Trail right across Sweden’s mountain chain. That didn’t happen – but out of this project came the Southern King’s trail, which has a couple of different stretches between Sälen in the south and Grövelsjön in the north, alongside the Norwegian border. (It’s not as well visited as the other King’s Trail – so the chances are you and your friends might have a chance to really get away from other people.)
The trails are relatively easy and suitable for most people. The most common route is about 180 kilometres long, but you can easily adapt it for shorter, as well as longer, hikes. On your way, you can enjoy beautiful mountain views and peaceful lakes, all the time taking in the truly Nordic nature.