Kungsleden or better known as “The King´s Trail” is one of the best hikes in Europe.
It’s a 440km (270mile) hike through some of the last trough wilderness in Europe, in Northern Sweden.
This hike will take you through three different National Parks which are the first national parks that got established in Europe back in 1909, so you got some complete wilderness to explore that hasn’t changed in a century.
These parks are, from north to south, Abisko National Park, Stora Sjofallets National Park, and Sarek National Park.
Most people do the trek from North to South, and so did I. Starting at Abisko Tourist station.
If planning to visit Northern Sweden during winter to see the Northern Light, check out this post.
If you do decide to visit Abisko outside the hiking, the season so is it a great place to discover the Northern Light.
This was the second time I tried to do the trek this year.
I arrived for the first time in Abisko at the beginning of June but had to give up after a few days because of a crazy amount of snow this year.
So I had postponed my plans and headed back home for not more than five weeks before it was possible to do the whole trek.
So on the 19th of July, I took the train back to Abisko to continue my mission to do this hike.
The trek can be done in different stages, where you can walk off the Kungsleden trail to join other paths for another trek, do a side trip to Kebnekaise, the highest mountain in Sweden. After you have reached the summit, you can choose to continue on the hike or stop here and walk off to a bus stop and head home.
BTW. You will see on some photos that I used a cheap REI tent on this trip; the reason is, it was a Rodent year in the mountains in Sweden this year. There were lemmings everywhere, and I met quite a few hikers that got their expensive Hilleberg, Mountain Hardware and The North Face tents bitten by lemmings.
The starting point of the Kungsleden trail.
Day 1. Abisko – Abiskojaure. 14km. 3.5hours. 380 – 490Meters above sea level
The first day of the trek is the easiest day on the whole hike. It starts no more than 300m from the train station/tourist station and is very easy with only a few small hills. There is a really nice campsite set up after about 6km with outdoor toilets and wind shelter and a river passing by so if you want to have a very easy start on the hike, then this is the perfect place to take it easy.
Not too much to write about the first day on the hike, most of the time you walk on the light forest before reaching a the Abiskojaure lake and the forest opens up a bit. The only hazard on the hike the first day was some flooded and some pretty muddy parts. Except for that, this day is a walk in the park.
After about 14km you reach the STF Hut (Swedish Tourist Organization), the hut is on the other side of a suspensions bride and offers: sauna, campfire, and kitchen, but it’s not free! Camping is 100SEK, and staying inside the hut is 400SEK.
You have to camp outside the Huts area if you want to camp for free, you can still use their toilets and get rid of your garbage if you decide not to pay.
Day 2. Abiskojaure – Alesjaure 20km 6-8hours. 490 – 780 Meters above sea level
This is probably the hardest day on the whole trek, it’s not only one of the longest days, but they’re a lot of deep muddy sections, flooded rivers and slippery stones on the way.
I also had really bad weather this day, with heavy wind and rain during the whole day.
While the two first km is very easy and mostly flat the next 3/4km not that much.
The hills are not too steep, but since there are no trees around you will be very exposed to the wind, and for a while, you are just going to walk on stone.
Luckily they have built a small wind shelter hut (with outdoor toilet) at about 15km.
This is also one of the first places where it is possible to pitch a tent, and I decided to do so because of the awful weather I had that day.
Day 3 Camping (Alesjaure) – Camping (Tjatka) 15.8km 6hours 780 – 1000 Meters above sea level
While day two was awful with rain and heavy wind, day 3 was beautiful, sunny and no wind at all, the perfect day for hiking.
The biggest hazard on day two is that you have to cross a few flooded rivers with knee-deep water where the bridges had been washed away plus some really deep and annoying mud.
As you can see on the right side of the picture some wooden planks were placed in order to walk over the wettest parts, unfortunate, ly the maintenance of this “roads” get worse after the two first days of hiking. In some sections,ns you will find that the walkway has fallen apart so you will get wet, very wet.
Most people stop at Alesjaure Hut, on day 2 and continue towards Tjatka on day 3, but since I decided to stop 5km earlier on day two, I had to catch up the lost time on day 3 and walk the extra distance to Tjatka.
The hike from Alesjaure to Tjatka is pretty straight forward, two knee deep river crossings, by far the biggest hazard on day 3 is the endless amount of mosquitoes, I have never encountered this amount of mosquitoes anywhere else around the world.
I got 68 bites on my right leg in less than 10 minutes of resting!!!
It´s not much to say about day 3; it’s really straight forward, can’t go wrong, I decided to camp about 1KM before Tjatka Hut,
Tjatka Hut is the highest elevated hut on the hike and it lays just before the highest point, on the whole, trek, the Tjatka pass.
The place might look nice and relaxing, but there were a BILLION mosquitoes here, it was impossible to sit down and relax outside the tent, even with long hiking trousers, jacket, and mosquito spray, it was just unbearable.
There were so many mosquitoes outside the tent, so it sounded like rain on the tent roof.
Day 4 Camping (Tjatka) – Sälka – camping 27KM 10 hours 1000 – 820 Meters above sea level
The climb up to Tjatka pass (1150m) starts only a few hounded meters after my camp spot and continue for about 6km before you reach the top of the pass, the climb up to the pass is very easy and not steep at all.
You can find a small wind shelter on the top of the pass, a good place to stop for some fast snacks or lunch before your start descending from the pass.
The path follows the river all the way to the Salka hut, the path is extremely rocky for some parts you will walk on rocks for more than 3-4 km straight, and the other parts are very wet since the wooden walkway eight at many places.
Except for the rocky and wet parts this day straight forward and easy, you can decide to stop at Sälka hut if you don’t feel for walking too far. Since I felt pretty go,od I decided to continue my hike towards Single Hut, but unfortunate,ly I encountered some serious weather. I had to stop for the night in the wind shelter, so did 8 other hikers.
Day 5 Camping – Singi Hut 3.5hours 8Km
Since I decided to seek shelter for the wind in the shelter hut the previous day, I only had a very small hike this day.
One of the most annoying things on the Kungsleden Trail except for the mosquito are all the helicopters that are flying in and out of the trail all the time, quite a few lazy hikers are using helicopter shuttle express to do small parts of the hike, from hut to hut or land and stay in a hut for the night, I find it really annoying when a helicopter is flying right above you or when you are having a rest and you have to move because the helicopter is coming in for landing.
Day 6 Singi Hut – Kaitumjaure – Teusajaure 22km 7 hours
Singi is the hut where you can decide to turn East and head towards Kebnekaise and climb the highest mountains in Sweden or head South and continue the Kungsleden hike. I decided to head South after talking with some fellow hikers about the snow condition on Kebnekaise.
Normally people do the hike from Singi to Teusajaure in two days, but my legs felt great when I reached Kaitumjaure, so I decided to continue to the next hut.
The hike from Singi to Kaitumjaure is 13 km and takes about 4 hours; it is pretty straightforward with only a few very short climbs. You start off with hiking trough a barren landscape the first 11 km, and the two last km are trough a small forest, there is not much more to say about the hike between Singi and Kaitumjaure.
The Kaitumjaure hut is . First place to stay for a day, you can go for a swim (fast shower) down at the lake, where you can also find very nice campsites.
Kaitumjaure is one of the best spots to see wild Moose on the hike, and I was lucky to see two while having a lunch break. Unfortunately, they disappeared before I could get my camera out.
The hike from Kaitumjaure to Teusajaure is not the easiest, starts off easy and flat for the first half an hour before you cross the suspension bridge, but after the bridge it gets rocky for the next 30 min, then you get about 1 hour climb to the top of the “plateau” you also have a few streams/rivers to cross and most of the wooden walkway was also broken.
The plateau takes another hour to cross before you reach a ridiculous and dangerous steep decent down to Teusajaure hut. You have to be careful here, there were two hikers staying at Teusajaure that had injured their knee during the decent.
Teusajaure is located on one side of a long like, the only way to cross the lake is with a boat. You have two options, first; the you can row a small boat across, or pay the guy working at the hut 100 SEK to drive you across. Since it was very windy, I chose to pay the boatman to get me across.
There is a small wind shelter that you can stay in, about 300 meters from the shore on the other side.
Day 7 Teusajaure – Vakkotavare 15KM 5/6hours.
This is the last day on the Northern Part of the Kungsleden hike before being back in “Civilization.”
Something strange has happened with my memory card, so I lost all photos from this part of the hike.
This part has both a steep climb and a very steep and long descent down to the highway where you can take the bus to the next hut and continue the hike, but the worst thing this day will be all the water, you will get your feet wet even with good hiking boots.
The path starts to climb only 10 meters after you crossed the lake and continues for more than one hour more before you reach a plateau, after about 2 km you will pass a small wooden sign saying “BRO”, that means bridge. Follow the sign!! a lot of people didn’t understand or see the sign, and they had a pretty tough river crossing.
The plateau is very wet with big parts of the path being flooded, and you even have a few more rivers to cross where the bridge has disappeared.
Look out for semi-wild Reindeer while you are walking around on the top of the plateau they are running wildly around.
When you finally reach the trees you only got about 2 km left, and all of that is downhill, pretty steep downhill before you reach the Vakkotavare hut.
Vakkotavare hut its located right next to the highway, so no more wilderness feeling on this part of the hike.
If you manage to arrive early at the hut, you’ll be lucky to catch one of the two buses to Saltoluokta fjällstation, the first one leaves around 10.30nam and the second one at 12.30 am. If you miss those two, the only option is to spend the night a Vakkotavare hut and take the bus the next day instead.
Additional info about Kungsleden
There´s No Permit or Registration needed to do the Kungsleden hike.
There are two trains a day from Norway a day.
Narvik – Abisko 10.53 and 12.40. The train takes one and a half hour and costs 66 KR if booked in advance.
There is one direct train from Stockholm to Abisko, and one with an interchange, more in the summer season.
The closest airport is in Kiruna. Only domestic Swedish flights.
The starting point at Abisko Mountain station has a small store with the most useful supplies; there´s also a Coop Supermarket 15minutes walk from Abisko Mountain station.
Also so are the small stores in basically every other cabin along the trail. On the northern part, these following cabins have small stores: Abiskojaure, Alesjaure, Sälka, Kaitumjaure, and Vakkotavare.
The stores in the cabins all have a reasonable selection of dried food, canned food, pasta, rice, soups, chips, chocolate, candy, soft drinks, beer cans and more.
You can pay with either cash or credit card in most of the cabins.
The prices are higher in the cabins than in Abisko and in the supermarkets.
I managed to this part of the hike without buying any supplies during the hike.
Where to sleep
All cabins have rooms/dorms where hikers can sleep, the price is about 40Euro a night.
But then you can also use the guest kitchen and Sauna.
All cabin has camping spots for your tent, 120KR if you are a member of the Swedish Tourism Association, 150kr for no members. You are also allowed to use the guest kitchen and sauna if camping there.
You are allowed to wild camp “everywhere” for free.