Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Cesar's Complete Guide to Bergslagsleden
Bergslagsleden is the longest stand alone trail that is a part of the Swedish E1 trail system, and spans 280km. It is a wonderful trail, one of my all time favorites in fact, so after finishing it I decided to write up a more detailed trail guide specifically for this trail. It would be a great trail to do a short thru-hike of all on its own, and I plan to do this in the future.
However if you would like to read more about the E1 trails and how Bergslagsleden fits into the E1, you can do so here, and there is also a list of links to my other completed reports of the Swedish E1 trails. Please keep in mind this is still a work in progress.
Bergslagsleden has its endpoint in the south at the campground Stenkällegården, and the endpoint in the north is the village of Kloten. For more general information about the trail in English, Swedish, and German, here is a link to the official trail guide. The trail is divided into 17 stages, and the official site has PDF informational maps as well as topographical maps available to download free of charge. You can browse them on the official site, but I will also provide direct links to the maps in question for each respective trip report.
The official Bergslagsleden informational maps are very functional, having especially good symbols and information for useful or interesting things on the trail (shelters, fresh water, views, etc.). Yet these info maps are a bit sparse, and roads often lack much information and are mostly just black lines that intersect with the trail. These are not the best maps to use on their own for backpackers that are section hikers and/or like to bushwhack/explore.
However a few weeks before I began this trail more detailed topographical maps were added to the trail's official website. They are listed in the Swedish section that you can find here--you can find the links that say "Karta" next to the Swedish informational maps on the table to the right. These terrain maps are of very good quality and I highly recommend you take both type of maps for each section (or for the whole trail if you are thru-hiking).
Below I will provide links to each of my 6 trip reports for the section hikes I did to complete this trail, which can also be found in my E1 trail guide. Full disclosure: roughly two thirds of stage 15 was skipped due to illness, all of stage 6 was skipped due to excessive snow, roughly two thirds of stage 1 was skipped also due to snow, and a few stages got a few kms trimmed off due to public transportation. After these links is a brief epilogue on my final thoughts on the trail, how I would plan a thru-hike of the trail in the future, and other tips and observations from the trail.
The Trail Guides
--Part 1 (79km), Karlsborg - Laxå (hiked in September 2014)
--Part 2 (58km), Laxå - Leken (hiked in October 2014)
--Part 3 (49km), Leken - Mogetorp (hiked in November 2014)
--Part 4 (47km), Mogetorp - Uskavi (hiked in January 2015)
--Part 5 (46km + 6km), Uskavi/Lindesberg - Stjärnfors/Kopparberg (hiked in February 2015)
--Part 6 (38km), Kopparberg - Kloten (hiked in April 2015)
As I've already made clear in the reports themselves, I really enjoyed this trail as a whole. However I feel like I could improve on my experience of this trail significantly next time I hike it. The first thing that I would do differently is to hike it in the summer or perhaps late spring. There are areas on the trail that get a lot of snow, which makes things more challenging, as a few of my reports pointed out. Another issue is fog and mist during the autumn months, which while they can be quite beautiful, ruined a lot of good views for me during a few trips.
It's only 280km total, which I think I would have no problems doing a thru-hike of in about two weeks or a bit less. Though I wouldn't want to go on a thru-hike of this trail for less than two weeks so that I would have time for a few zero days and/or exploring of side trials and other cool sights to be found on or slightly off trail. I've already given a fair amount of thought of how a thru-hike of this trail might be planned, so here is how I'd try and do it:
*At the height of summer, around July-August, I'd pack up my summer gear (around 2-3kg base weight) and 5 days of food. Then I'd catch a train to Kopparberg, hike west from town, find the trail, and start hiking southbound.
*I'd resupply another 3 days of food in Nora and continue hiking southbound.
*At the E18 highway at Leken, I'd take a bus west to the town of Karlskoga (resupplying as needed), where I'd then pick up the side trail Tiosjöarsleden. Following this side trail south-west, I'd make my way back to Bergslagsleden and continue southbound.
*After finishing stage 14, I'd hike or hitchhike to Laxå to resupply as needed, and then return to the trail to continue southbound.
*Finally after finishing the trail at the end of stage 17, I would continue hiking southbound on Västra Vätterleden, resupplying as needed on the way in Karlsborg, and ending the trip in Hjo, which is a lovely little town on the shores of the massive lake Vättern.
Yup. Something like that, and if I'm lucky sometime soon.
In general the trail is very well maintained, there are plenty of trail shelters and places to fill up on tap water; yet at many parts of the trail you feel pretty isolated and cut off from civilization, a more raw and wild terrain. I can't comment much on bugs and other pests, as my travels on this trail were not during high bug season--but even during the fall and early spring, there were a fair amount of bugs out.
That's all I can think of adding to this trail guide at the moment, but surely in the future I will give updates and additions. Until then, and as always, feel free to ask questions or give feedback.