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World’s Best Hikes: Kungsleden, Sweden


By Peter Potterfield

Today’s Featured Hike: Abisko Mountain Station to the Saami Village of Nikkaluokta

Round-Trip: 65 miles, 3 to 5 days

When to Go: The Europeans do it in August, when they get holiday time, so be bold and go in early September for authentic solitude and no bugs.

A hundred miles inside the Arctic Circle, Sweden’s legendary 275-mile Kungsleden (the “The King’s Trail”) begins its traverse of the last great wilderness in western Europe. This mind-blowing northernmost section penetrates the vast Arctic landscape of Sweden through birch forests, open tundra, and big glaciers before crossing the shoulder of Sweden’s highest peak, 6,926-foot Mount Kebnekaise. Using the comfortable huts placed about a day apart assures you have refuge in bad weather. Sturdy suspension bridges take the danger out of the big rivers. The vibe here is “far north,” with palpable emptiness and low-angled light that stirs the soul.

Insider Tip: The route can be done in either direction, but do it north to south, as that keeps the sun on your face—no small consideration in the Arctic.

Photograph by Bernd Jonkmanns, laif/Redux