Previously I have ignorantly only written about the Kungsleden Trail presuming that people are fairly experienced to begin with. But anybody can walk the northern section of The King’s Trail even with minimum hiking knowledge and experience.
I often receive emails and quite a few of them are about negotiating the King’s Trail. I decided to write this article to answer some of these questions. If you are inexperienced and don’t want to climb big mountains then the below is directed to you.
Basically the Kungsleden trail takes you through a series of valleys. The mountains are all around you. That’s what’s so fantastic about the trail. One can split the trail up into three main sections.
North – Abisko to Kvikkjokk
Middle – Kvikkjokk to Ammarnäs
South – Ammarnäs to Hemavan
The most northern section from Abisko to Nikkaluokta, often called “hiker highway”, is visited by at least 400 – 500 people walking this section every day through the peak period (June – August). I was quoted these figures when I came by the Sälka mountain huts on my adventure in August 2018. Technically Singi to Nikkaluokta is not part of the trail but is by far the most popular. This is the section that I would recommend that you do if you are a first time hiker on the Kungsleden. You can either walk it like I did from north to south or you could walk it from Nikkaluokta and head north finishing at Abisko. Either way it is easy to get on and off the trail by bus and train. I Previously published an article about this subject here.
On this section there is only one mountain pass at Tjäktja. It is the day 3 post that I published on my blog. The pass is only 1150 m and is not difficult or scary and is very beautiful. When you start to descend it is one of those breathtaking “once in a lifetime” moments that you’ll always remember as you look out across the whole valley before you. See below.
Just stick to the Kungsleden trail and don’t do the dog leg that I did on my first two days where I walked from Abisko to Kårsavagge and descended down to Alesjaure. This would be too difficult for an inexperienced hiker and hard to navigate including a water crossing which you can see below.
When climbing the Kårsavagge pass there is no path to follow once you have reached the higher elevations where there is only a rocky surface. One has to follow the cairns that have been placed along the way. Some of these are difficult to locate. The mountain was covered in mist and cloud when I negotiated the pass which also made the going strenuous. Below is a view from the summit looking down towards Alesjaure.
Hike instead from Abisko to Alesjaure sticking to the marked Kungsleden trail and you won’t have any trouble. And if you are after a little more adventure then do exactly what I did.
In this northern section of Kungsleden there are mountain huts placed within easy walking distance from each other. The mountain huts are located in the valleys and not on the mountain tops. You can use a credit card in the huts and buy food, beer or whatever. You can even stay in the huts if you want to. You don’t need to book. They never turn anyone away. So if things do go wrong for you then help is always near and someone is always walking by.
This section of Kungsleden is also very well-marked. It is not necessary to navigate with a GPS Navigator. I had one with me and only used it on the mountain pass that I did on day 2 at Kårsavagge. There is no cell reception anywhere on trail. I had some mobile service at Abisko and after that there was none until I arrived at Kiruna. Although when I arrived at Nikkaluokta some folks did receive some reception on their cell phones, but I could not.
From Kebnekaise mountain hut to Nikkaluokta the track is very busy with a lot of traffic. It was too much for me. There are a lot of young, yuppie, rich kids walking to Kebnekaise mountain hut from Nikkaluokta and return again. They make a lot of noise and litter the trail. It was a little disappointing and depressing for me. As you approach Nikkaluokta the trail widens and you can more or less drive a car on the track.
You can walk this northern section from Abisko to Nikkaluokta on your own as an inexperienced hiker and there is nothing to be scared of. Just make sure that your kit is suited to the conditions. You can see what gear I packed in my published article. I’m not saying that my kit will work for you but if you’re not experienced with this then reach out for some help and advice.
I hope that this article motivates some undecided, inexperienced hikers to take the challenge up and hike the Kungsleden some day. There is nothing to be scared of.
All my photos from August 2018 can be viewed on Flickr
Thanks for reading