Kungsleden Trail – Complete Guide - Mountain IQ
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Kungsleden Trail – Complete Guide

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Saltoluokta-Kvikkjokk-Kungsleden-Trail

Looking for advice on Sweden’s stunning Kungsleden Trail? You are in the right place.

We have put together a complete guide that you can use when planning your hike along the spectacular trail.

The Kungsleden trail is one of Europe’s most remote and takes you through spectacular areas of the Swedish Lapland mountain landscape.

Although the hike is 440 km in total, it can easily be split into smaller sections. See below our top 5 Kungsleden hikes.

Kungsleden Trail Overview

Quick Facts

  • Sweden has the one of the greatest concentration of lakes in the world, with almost one tenth of the surface being made up of lakes.
  • If you are lucky you may spot the rare Snowy Owl - their numbers in Sweden vary from 0 to 20 depending on food sources.
  • You can still see reindeer herded by the indigenous Sami people
  • The name of the trail (Kungsleden) dates back to 1928, when it was first used by the Swedish Tourist Association. 
  • During September you can see the spectacular Aurora Borealis, or more commonly known as the Northern Lights.
  • The Sami word for the Northern Lights is ‘guovssahas’, meaning the light you can hear.
  • The trail is unique as it can either be hiked or ski-ed depending on time of year.
  • The path was established in the 20th century by Svenska Turistföreningena

The Kungsleden (Swedish) is aptly named the ‘King of Trails’ as it passes through some of the most beautiful locations in the world.

Journeying through a variety of landscapes, from low-lying mountain birch forest to alpine terrain, the trek can be done in either direction. The trail passes through four national parks, namely - Abisko, Stora Sjöfallet, Sarek and Pieljekaise.

Natural Features and Topography

The Kungsleden scenery is diverse and dramatic. The region is home to high peaks, birch and old coniferous forest, bleak mountain fells, lakes and wetlands meaning that hikers will traverse through a variety of changing landscapes.

The changes in season are equally dramatic. From long summer days and short winter nights with snowy surface and dancing Northern Lights.

The highest point on the Kungsleden is the Tjäktja Pass, reaching an elevation of 3,770 ft.

Wildlife and Plants

If you are lucky you may spot the tracks (or the animals themselves!) of the Swedish big four - lynx, wolverine, bear and wolf - but you are most likely to encounter moose, elk and lemmings.

The area has an abundance of bird life, with roughly half of Sweden’s 400 bird species being spotted here.

The plant life along the trail is more vibrant in lower altitude areas and the vegetation can be organized according to altitude - namely pine forest, birch forest and mountain tundra.

Hiking

Covering 440 km in total, the Kungsleden has amazing adventures to offer, no matter the time of year.

The hike can easily be done in sections, and if you do not want to do the entire Kungsleden, you can easily do parts of it according to your preference.

The northern section of the Kungslede trail is the most popular, but there is definitely no ‘bad’ part of this awe-inspiring hike.

Get a Trek Quote

We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like to find a Kungsleden Trek from our recommended tour congregator, click below.

Regional Map

Although they are online maps available, we recommend the maps produced by Calazo, as they are lightweight, compact and water-and-tear resistant, making them ideal for hikers.

The total Kungsleden requires four maps: Ammarnäs to Hemavan, Kvikkjokk to Ammarnäs, Sarek and Padjelanta, and Kebnekaisefjällen.

If you do not want to purchase maps you can also make use of the Landmateriat website, where you can easily select and print out sections. Alternatively, you can use the GPS app, Swedish Mountain Maps

Recommended Guidebook

If you are looking for clear and concise information on the Kungsleden we recommend Plan and Go: Kungsleden by Danielle and Wayne Feton.

There is also Trekking Beyond: Walk the world's epic trails book, that provides a good overview of a number of European treks. 

Video Overview

Cody Duncan went hiking the Kungsleden Trail, in Sweden. He filmed this video in September 2012 while hiking the northern section of Sweden's Kungsleden trail from Nikkaluokta to Abisko.

Kungsleden - What You Ought To Know

Best Time To Go

The Kungsleden can be hiked at any time of year, each time having their own pros and cons. August is the busiest time of year as this is when many Europeans and Swedes take their summer holiday.

It's a good idea to check the weather before going on this hike.

Difficulty

The difficulty level is moderate to difficult and really depends on what you are doing and your level of fitness. The options on the Kungsleden are endless, as you can take the hike at a more leisurely pace and hike from hut to hut (roughly 12 to 13 km a day)  or you can choose to skip huts and travel further distances each day. You can even choose to trail run the route and cover 110 km in as little time as a few days.

Permits

You do not need a reservation or a permit to hike the Kungsleden, but if you plan on staying in the huts along the way you will have to pay for these. The Swedish Tourist Association (STF) operates a series of huts across the mountains in Sweden which depend on those that use them to care for them. You do not have to be a member of STF to use the huts but it does make it cheaper.


Best Kungsleden Hikes


1. Abisko – Nikkaluokta

  • Area: Northern section of Kungsleden
  • Permit: No permits are required
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Distance: 105 km
  • Elevation Gain: 2 500m total climb
  • Time Hiking: 3 - 7 days
  • Best Time to Hike: July to September
Route Description

This section of the Kungsleden is most popular and is frequented by hikers in both winter and summer. Along this section you will journey through the birch forests of Abisko National Park, as well as up the Tjäktja Pass - which is the highest point on the Kungsleden.

The distances between the STF cabins on this section vary between 12 and 20 km apart, with 6 huts in total.

If you choose to hike a cabin a day your total journey would take about a week, but you can choose to skip cabins. If you wanted to do this section in as little time as possible, you could aim to hike 35 km a day over a three day period.

Technically, the hike from Singi to the village of Nikkaluokta is not part of the Kungsleden, but it is a popular addition. If you would like to only hike this section of the Kungsleden, you can exit at the village. If you do not want to add this section in you can continue straight from Singi to Kaitumjaure.

Accommodation (STF cabins)

If you are planning to hike from hut to hut per day, your journey will go as follows.

  • Day 1: Abisko to Abiskojaute
  • Day 2: Abiskojaute to Alesjoure
  • Day 3: Alesjoure to Tjäktja
  • Day 4: Tjäktja to Sälka
  • Day 5: Sälka to Singi

Optional

  • Day 6: Singi to Kebnekaise
  • Day 7: Kebnekaise to Nikkaluokta (village)
Abisko – Nikkaluokta Pro Tips
  • Remember to show respect for the Sami people as they tend to their reindeer in this area.
  • This is the busiest area of the Kungsleden, so if you are after isolation this may not be the route for you.
  • If you are planning on camping remember the nights are cold throughout the year, so pack accordingly.

Abisko – Nikkaluokta Video 

Pea Power Productions’ video gives you a good idea of what to expect on the trail as you follow this solo hiker’s journey along the Abisko to Nikkaluokta section of the Kungsleden.


2. Nikkaluokta – Vakkotavare

Nikkaluokta-Vakkotavare-Kungsleden-Trail

Photo by Andre M.

  • Area: Northern section of Kungsleden
  • Permit: No permits are required
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Distance: 71 km
  • Time Hiking: 3 to 6 days
  • Best Time to Hike:  mid-July to September

Route Description

If you decided to hike from Singi to Nikkaluokta, you will have to hike the returning trip to Singi. However, if you decided to skip Nikkaluokta you will hike south towards Vakkotavare. If you want to begin your Kungsleden hike at this point, you will have to start at Nikkaluokta.

This part of the Kungsleden crosses barren mountain landscape, moorland, birch forest and heaths. At the Lake Dievssajávri (Teusajaure) you will have to cross either by borrowing a rowing boat or you can pay to cross on a scheduled motor boat.

Accommodation (STF cabins)

If you are planning to hike from hut to hut per day, your journey will go as follows.

Optional

  • Day 1: Nikkaluokta to Kebnekaise
  • Day 2: Kebnekaise to Singini 

Kungsleden

  • Day 3: Singini to Kaitumjaure
  • Day 4: Kaitumjaure to Teusajaure
  • Day 5: Teusajaure to Vakkotavare

Nikkaluokta – Vakkotavare Pro Tips

  • Vakkotavare mountain cabin is next to the bus stop along the road. You can journey to Saltoluokta mountain station by taking a bus and then catching a boat.
  • Be prepared for all kinds of weather, no matter the season.
  • If you are hiking in summer, pack in mosquito repellent as they can be a pest.

Nikkaluokta – Vakkotavare Video 

Magnus Hedström’s video documents the hike from Vakkotavare to Nikkaluokta. His video shows the river crossings as well as the spectacular mountain views.


We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like to find a Kungsleden Trek from our recommended tour congregator, click below.

3. Saltoluokta – Kvikkjokk

  • Area:  Northern section of Kungsleden
  • Permit: No permits are required
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Distance: 73 km
  • Time Hiking: 3 to 4 days
  • Best Time to Hike: mid-July to September

Route Description

The first day of this hike is a long 20 km hike between Saltoluokta and Sitojaure. The hut here is located by a lake which has to be crossed the next day.

You can either row across or opt to pay for the speed boat to take you and there are multiple places on this section of the Kungsleden which have to crossed by boat.

This is one of the most spectacular parts of the trail is between Sitojaure and Aktse, where you will have an amazing views of the the Sarekfjällen mountains and Rapadalen valley.

Accommodation (STF cabins)

If you are planning to hike from hut to hut per day, your journey will go as follows.

  • Day 1: Saltoluokta to Sitojaure
  • Day 2: Sitojaure to Aktse
  • Day 3: Aktse to Pårte
  • Day 4: Pårte to Kvikkjokk

Saltoluokta – Kvikkjokk Top Tips

  • Part of the trail in this section goes through the Sarek National Park, which has its own set of rules and regulations. Please check the park's official website for more information prior to your trek.
  • Reindeer husbandry is practiced in this area of the Kungsleden, so be respectful of the herders and animals.
  • Be careful if there is rain, as parts of the trail can become slippery.

Saltoluokta – Kvikkjokk Video 

Purple Peak’s beautiful video will have you itching to walk this section of the Kungsleden.


4. Kvikkjokk - Ammarnäs

  • Area: Middle section of Kungsleden
  • Permit: No permits are required
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Distance: 179 km
  • Time Hiking: 7 - 10 days
  • Best Time to Hike: August to September

Route Description

This part of the Kungsleden is the least travelled, and this section is also the least maintained part of the route and not all rivers will have bridges.

The hiking in this section of the trail is challenging as the path crosses numerous mountains and valleys.

Accommodation

There are no huts along this section, so a tent will be needed for this section of the trail.

Kvikkjokk - Ammarnäs Top Tips

  • There are small mountain villages where you can look for accommodation and supplies.
  • Although some of the rivers don’t have bridges they may be privately owned taxi boats that you can pay to cross.
  • There are some basic forms of accommodation on this route, not run by STF - but you will still need a tent as these are few and far in-between.
  • The winter route is not fully sign posted.

Kvikkjokk - Ammarnäs Video 

Jochen Klug hiked the entire Kungsleden and this video documents his journey from Kvikkjokk to Ammarnäs, it is a long video but browsing through it will give you a good overview of this section of the hike.


5. Ammarnäs - Hemavan

Ammarnaas-Hemavan-Kungsleden-Trail

Photo by Stefan

  • Area: Southern section of Kungsleden
  • Permit: No permits are required
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Distance: 78 km
  • Time Hiking: 5 to 7 days
  • Best Time to Hike:  Mid July to September

Route Description

This is the southernmost section of the Kungsleden trail. The trail can be hiked in either direction although many people chose to start in Ammarnäs.

Along this section of the Kungsleden you will be exposed to heathland and swallow valleys, as well as birch forest and moorland.

Accommodation (STF cabins)

If you are planning to hike from hut to hut per day, your journey will go as follows:

  • Day 1: Ammarnäs to Aigert
  • Day 2: Aigert to Serve
  • Day 3: Serve to Tärnasjö
  • Day 4: Tärnasjö to Syter
  • Day 5: Syter to Viterskalet
  • Day 6: Viterskalet to Hemavan

Ammarnäs - Hemavan Top Tips

  • The first day is a short section but the terrain is steep so make sure you have the correct hiking boots
  • There are reindeer herders in this area so hikers are reminded to show them the appropriate respect.
  • The small lakes along the way are great for fishing and swimming - if you can brave the cold.

Ammarnäs - Hemavan Video 

Magnus Hedström’s second video covers the Hemavan to Ammarnäs section of the Kungsleden. The video gives you a good idea of what to expect in terms of scenery and landscape.

Get a Trek Quote

We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like to find a Kungsleden Trek from our recommended tour congregator, click below.

Travel Insurance

Hiking insurance is not a mandatory requirement for hikes on Kungsleden Trail, but in general we recommend having insurance.

Check out the World Nomads calculator for a quick calculation of the cost of travel insurance for your trip to Sweden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a guide to hike the Kungsleden?

What are the huts along the Kungsleden like?

What gear do I need?

Do I need to take my own food and water?

What wildlife can I see when I hike the Kungsleden?

Do I need travel insurance?

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