You have walked a little more than 10 km, and maybe your feet are a bit sore. That’s when it appears, the lodge Viterskalsstugan, which offers both warmth and a place to sleep, as well as provisions and other amenities.
Kungsleden starts from Hemavan, at Naturrum, which lies next to Högfjällshotellet. From here, the trail is marked through the birch tree forest and between the ski lifts. After you pass Norrliften (the north lift), the trail is really easy to follow, with marked cairns and a well-trodden path. You can also choose to take the aforementioned lift up the slope, also referred to as sommarlinbanan (the summer cableway), and start the tour there, thus shortening the ascent a bit.
Planks, footbridges and frequent signposts make for an easy trek, which will eventually take you towards Västra Syterbäcken. There is a suspension bridge leading towards the trail to Klippen, or towards the brook, where it crosses the E12. In order to get to Viterskalsstugan lodge, you head towards the west entrance to the Syterskalet pass. On the rare occasions when the water level is high, you may have to wade through the water, but most of the time a quick skip is enough to get across the small brooks.
Don’t forget to take the time to enjoy the view towards Artfjället and the Norwegian mountain massifs when you get a chance. There is plenty of water and brooks cascading down the mountain sides and we highly recommend you take a break on the way down. After walking a few more kilometres, you will get to Viterskalstugan where you have several options for spending the night. There are beds inside the lodge but there are also lovely camp sites, the best ones are north of the lodge, where the ground levels out.
If you continue further, you get to Syterskalet, a ten-kilometre pass with a blooming green valley between greyish black precipices. Many consider this glacial trough the most spectacular pass along the southern part of Kungsleden, and perhaps along the entire 400-kilometre stretch of the trail.
But let’s get back to Viterskalsstugan. The actual pass lies to the northeast of the lodge, and can be seen between the peaks Dålkoetjåhke, 1 522 m.a.s.l., and Måskoetjåhke, 1 690 m.a.s.l. Inside the pass is Måskoejaevrie.
Last summer, Åke Öhman from Falun was the lodge host, bringing along his wife Maria and their four-year-old son David. He says that the area has a lot to offer.
“It’s easy to get here, and the area still offers a great sense of freedom,” says Åke, looking out on the surroundings through the window. And he says it is possible to get to the lodge even if you travel with small children, especially if you take the cableway.
“It took us seven hours to walk from Hemavan with our four-year-old, and we even had time for a nice coffee break by the suspension bridge across Syterbäcken,” says Åke Öhman.
The cabins, which are located 880 above sea level, are staffed all through the summer and a while into the autumn, check with STF for specific dates. The main lodge has 24 beds, housed in two four-bed rooms and two eight-bed rooms. Other than the great kitchen, the lodge also has a laundry room and a drying room. As the lodge has no staff, there is also an open security room.
The lodge host’s cabin houses a kiosk where you can purchase provisions and other necessary equipment. For a few years now, the kiosk has also offered breakfast for part of the season. Card payment is available.
Inside the lodge host’s cabin, four-year-old David has been joined by his friend Elina, 10. They are doing a puzzle while waiting for dinner to be ready.
“It is important to bring something for the children to do, but I think it’s gone surprisingly well, and they haven’t been nagging to watch TV yet,” says David’s mother Maria with a smile.
When the magazine visits the lodge in the middle of July, there is still quite a lot of snow in the area. This is due to heavy precipitation in the latter part of the winter together with the coldest spring and summer in recent memory. The area around Kungsleden is normally very green this time of year.
It was in the late 19th century that the idea was first born to create a continuous walking trail in the north of Sweden. The trail was to pass by all the most beautiful sites, and would thus be the “king of all trails”. The stretch between Kvikkjokk and Abisko was marked out in the 1920s. The trail continued to grow, and in the 1950s, it reached Ammarnäs. A few decades later, the southmost and final part of Kungsleden was officially created – the one between Ammarnäs and Hemavan.
Already in 1923, the first simple cabins were built in Viterskalet, and the new facilities were constructed between 2001–2002. An even if Kungsleden did not go through Hemavan in the 1920s, STF is still firmly established here: Åkerlundska gården was for example built in 1927, which went under the name of Tärna tourist station for many years.
The Hemavan–Ammarnäs stretch
- This stretch is 78 km long and you use map AC2.
- The southmost part of Kungsleden, which can easily be divided into six legs.
- Magnificent views mixed with valleys, birch forests and alpine environments.
- You will pass by Norra Sytertoppen (the north Syter peak), which is the highest peak in Västerbotten at 1 767 m.a.s.l.
- The trail runs through the nature reserve of Vindelfjällen, one of Europe’s largest protected areas.
- One of the country’s most vital arctic fox populations can be found in the area.
- STF has 5 mountain lodges situated along the trail in this county: Viter, Syter, Tärnasjön, Serve and Aigert and you can travel lightly, as provisions can be purchased at all the lodges.