King’s Trail, or Kungsleden, is Sweden’s longest and most famous trail and mostly frequented during summer. But it’s an equally exciting adventure on skis during winter. Göran Wallin, a keen outdoor enthusiast, gives us the insides of this great trail through the mountains of Swedish Lapland.

Hiking or skiing King’s Trail between Abisko and Hemavan is a beautiful journey through the Scandinavian Mountain Range. The trail in its whole is just over 400 kilometres long. The name, King’s Trail, was first used in 1928 by STF, the Swedish Tourist Association.

Today King’s Trail’s fully equipped with huts and cabins between Abisko and Kvikkjokk, and between Ammarnäs and Hemavan. The distance between Abisko and Nikkaluokta is both the most alpine and the most hiked trail in Sweden.

An autumn hike along the King's Trail.

Intriguing scenery

King’s Trail takes you through the most beautiful parts of the Swedish Lapland mountain landscapes. It’s a unique experience either you choose to hike or ski. There is a lot to see and do along the trail, and it’s recommended to stay a day or two extra at one of the cabins to explore the surrounding area further or try for one of the peaks for that cherry on top-view.

In the winter, the best time to ski King’s Trail is in April and the first part of May. You have daylight almost twenty-four-seven closing in on the period with midnight sun, and it rarely gets freezing.

In the shift between April and May, you can also spot the earliest flower of the mountains: purple mountain saxifrage, Saxifraga oppositifolia. It is most commonly found in gorges and on the first patches where the snow has melted away. Around mid-summer, around the longest day of the year, most of the snow has melted, and you can hike the King’s Trail.

Resting in a hut along King's Trail.

Overnight stays along the trail

The opening hours of the huts along the trail vary. The winter season begins at the end of February and lasts until the end of April or mid-May. Summer season starts at the end of June and lasts until the middle or end of September, and during these times almost all huts along the way are manned by wardens.

STF’s mountain huts are beautifully situated, 10–20 km from each other along well-marked summer and winter trails. The huts are simple, but have a comfortable standard and are intended for self-catering without electricity and running water.

Here, you will chop wood, light a fire in the stove, cook food, fetch water, do dishes and clean. You sleep with your own sheets or sleeping bag in dormitory-style rooms equipped with bunk beds, mattresses, pillows and blankets. Space in a mountain hut cannot be reserved. Hut wardens allocate beds, and everyone receives a place to sleep.

Northern Lights seen from King's trail in late summer.

Check out
You’ll find more information about King’s Trail, cabins for overnight stay and activities along the trail on STF’s website.

The STF’s brochure, “Kungsleden with STF”, has great information. You can read it here.

Preparations are vital

Touring in the mountains during winter requires more knowledge and equipment than hiking in the summer. Several organisers offer guided tours during summer and winter along King’s Trail – and it’s recommended for the best experience, especially if it is your first time in these mountains.

Hiking the King’s Trail doesn’t have to include a heavy backpack and long legs. At most cabins, you can buy food during the season, and if you plan ahead, there is little need to carry more than a daypack. The distance between the cabins vary, usually between 12–15 km long which is a comfortable one day walk. At some spots you also have the option of boat transfer, one is on King’s Trail at Alesjaur and another between Kebnekaise and Nikkaluokta.

The mountains along King’s Trail are part of the Sámi cultural landscape, and the area is used for reindeer herding. The first rule of spending time in nature is not to leave anything behind. And if you come across a flock of reindeer while hiking – keep your distance and try to keep still until they’ve passed. If you show respect towards nature and all living there you will be greatly rewarded with great views and memories that last a lifetime!

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