Kungsleden, or The King’s Trail, is a long distance hiking route that takes you through some of Sweden’s most beautiful alpine scenery in an area known as Swedish Lapland.
If you like vast areas of forest, snow dusted mountains and glacial valleys, this magical hike is for you.
Roughly a third of the trail in in the Arctic Circle, so if you want to experience trekking it the Arctic, this is a great trail to begin with.
The King’s Trail brings hikers from all over the world to experience the beauty of this landscape. Whether you want to see the Northern Lights, or experience the midnight sun, this trail will stand out as one of the best hikes in Europe.
- Birch forests
- Lakes and Mountains
- Wild flowers
- Northern Lights
- Midnight sun
The trail begins in Abisko, north of the Arctic Circle border and finishes in Hemavan in the south, although you can walk the trail in any direction.
The northern part of the trail is the most hiked, from Abisko to Nikkaluokta. If you want to enjoy the remote part of the trail, choose to hike the middle and southern parts.
Another great feature of The King’s Trail are the huts that are located every 10 to 20 kilometres throughout most of it. Not only do they provide accommodation for the night, but there are often small shops where you can replenish your food supplies. This means you don’t have to carry a heavy backpack if you intend to walk some distance.
If you fly in to Stockholm, you can catch a connecting flight to the small town of Kiruna. From there it is an hour by bus to Nikkaluokta, a convenient entry point to the northern tip of the trail.
It is approximately the same distance to the trail head at Abisko, if you plan to walk from north to south.
There are many entry and exit points along The King’s Trail that are well served by public transport.
The King’s Trail is approximately 440 kilometres in length.
Hiking the full length takes around a month to complete. Many hikers prefer to walk sections.
Grade and difficulty of the walk
The King’s Trail is graded as a 3-4. Most of the route is well marked, and the Swedish are rather good at looking after hikers along the trail with the conveniently placed huts and food cabins.
However, there are some more remote sections where river crossings are over rocks rather than bridges.
Being partially in the Arctic Circle, the cold climate adds to the difficulty of this walk, especially outside of the peak summer season.
Having some hiking experience will be an advantage on The King’s Trail. While the way is mostly well marked, it is important to remember you are hiking in the northern wilderness and temperatures may be cold and weather unpredictable.
You should be fit enough to be able to hike for several hours carrying enough supplies to get you to the next mountain hut.
You do not need a permit for The King’s Trail, however you do need to pay a fee to stay overnight at the mountain huts. Camping is permitted for free.
Guided or Self-Guided
There are guided and self-guided options for The King’s Trail.
Many hikers opt for self-guided as the route is well marked. However, having a guided walk means you can learn things about the area from an expert, meet new people, and have confidence hiking in remote wilderness.
The King’s Trail can be walked in all seasons, but it is warmer in the summer during June through to September. This is the summer hiking peak season, where you can be sure of obtaining public transport to different areas of the route.
September is one of the best times of year to see the Northern Lights.
Autumn can also be a good time to hike The King’s Trail, as the route is quieter allowing you to enjoy the remoteness.
The weather is colder, but you do have the beauty and colours that autumn brings.
Winter time in the Arctic means that it is light for 24 hours per day. During the night, the midnight sun creates a dim, golden glow.
With winter, comes snow and freezing temperatures. Hiking in these conditions calls for specialist equipment such as crampons.
A typical itinerary would be:
If you were to walk this trail in its entirety, the daily itinerary would be down to your personal preference. Starting from the north, the trail can be sectioned into shorter hikes.
Abisko to Nikkaluokta via Singi : 105 kilometres. Although Nikkaluokta isn’t officially part of the trail, it is a convenient access point for those who want to explore the northern part of the trail.
- Singi to Vakkotavare
Vakkotavare to Saltoluokta is not really viable on foot. The distance is just 30 kilometres, but there is no official trail and it would involve lots of road walking. Most people opt for bus transport between these two parts of the trail.
- Saltoluokta to Kvikkjokk
- Kvikkjokk to Ammarnäs
- Ammarnäs to Hemavan
Mountain huts are conveniently placed between 10 and 20 kilometres apart, giving you plenty of options for day hike distances. The huts also often have small food shops where you can replenish supplies.
The huts do not have electricity or running water, but offer basic, comfortable shelter. There are dormitory style sleeping quarters and you bring your own sleeping bag. Some mountain huts come with a sauna!
It is not possible to reserve a place in a hut, rather beds are allocated on arrival by a hut warden.
If you plan to walk any of the 179 kilometres between Kvukkjokk and Ammarnäs, there are no huts, so having a tent is important. There are some basic shelters as well as a few villages where you may find limited accommodation.
Wild camping is permitted along most of The King’s Trail. You will see camping areas where you can pitch your tent, and you are also free to find your own quiet spot if you prefer.
Look for wildlife such as Arctic hares, herds of reindeer and the elusive brown bear.
Admire the wonder of the area, such as the midnight sun if you are hiking in autumn and winter, and the spectacle of the Northern Lights.
From Aktse, take a side trip to the summit of Skierfe for views over the forests of the Rapadalen.
Take in the views along the Tjäktja Pass at the northern end of the trail, where the route reaches its highest elevation at 1150 metres.
The King’s Trail wind through four national parks, Abisko, Stora Sjöfallet, Sarek and Pieljekaise. There is much to explore in these parks and it is worth spending some time getting to know other trails in the area.
Spend some time getting to know the indigenous Sami people, many of which herd reindeer along the route.
|Skills Required||Hiking, Walking|
|Difficulty||3/5 - 4/5|
|Starts at||981 07 Abisko, Sweden|
|Finishes at||Hemavan, 62066. Sweden|
|Length of route||440 Km|
|Average time to complete||30 - 35 Days|
|Possible to complete sub-sections||Yes|
|Highest point||1150 metres|
|Equipment needed||Camping equipment, Poles if preferred, Trekking gear, walking boots|