Hiking on the High Coast is fantastic and not a limited summer activity here. Winter often has crystal-clear days and sparkling snow. Enjoy the silence and the sound of your footsteps in the snow.
Jerry Engström, founder of the outdoor village Friluftsbyn, is out local expert on winter hiking and organiser of Europe’s biggest winter hiking event Höga Kusten Winter Hike. We have asked him a few quick questions:
What would my experience be as a winter hiker in the High Coast?
- Summer and autumn are fantastic hiking seasons but a clear, crisp day in winter when the sun is shining and the silence is complete is something really special. There are also far fewer people about which means you often have nature to yourself. Packing a really warm jacket and a pair of ski pants and then hiking with a delicious packed lunch that you can eat at the top of a snow-covered mountain is something that I wish everyone would try.
Where is the best area for winter hiking in the High Coast?
- Just like in the summer, the most popular area is Skuleskogen National Park and up on Skuleberget where the views of the World Heritage Site are hard to beat. If you want to go on a longer hike with a packed lunch, the forest Skuleskogen is an excellent alternative. If you decide to venture right into the national park and want to walk trails other than those to the canyon Slåttdalsskrevan and the yellow trail, you’ll need to be comfortable with using a map and compass as the national park is not really signposted for winter use and often the signs are under the snow. If the weather changes quickly, which it is prone to doing, Slåttdalsberget can be really difficult to navigate and a simple trip can quickly become quite a challenge. Skuleberget is a safer alternative and the High Coast Trail is often well trodden and will take you to the restaurant Toppstugan with one of Sweden’s best views and the world’s crispiest waffles. This is a perfect winter walk for most people.
What is the High Coast Winter Hike?
- The High Coast Winter Hike is Europe’s most popular winter hike and it attracts both beginners and experienced winter hikers. For three days, you hike through some of the World Heritage Site’s highlights and you stay in prearranged tenting sites. There are organised sessions with our outdoor school, seminars and lots of other activities. The event is rounded off with a big après-hike party. The fun part about the Winter Hike is that the majority of participants have never been snowshoeing before. We have even had visitors from Asia and South America in the past, but the majority of participants are Swedish.
Choose a crisp winter day when the temperature is about -5 degrees and a trail that is only a few kilometres long. Take your favourite packed lunch with lots of treats and a thermos of something warm. Once you have experienced a day like this, it won’t be long before you are planning your next one.
Which trails are best if we want to take our kids along?
- If it is the first time you have taken your kids for a walk in the snow, any little forested area will become an adventure. You just need to make it fun. Once the kids are a little older you might want to try Litoberget, a foothill of Skuleberget and a perfect alternative. It is only about one kilometre to the top and the views are quite spectacular. It’s the perfect place to start and if you feel it’s all going well, you can continue up to the top of Skuleberget.
What shouldn’t we miss in the winter in the High Coast?
- The High Coast is developing fast as a winter destination and it is such fun to see it happening. Taking a hike is something you have to try and there is a number of popular ski slopes in the region. Going cross-country skiing at Nätra Fjällskog and taking an outing to Huggsjöstugarna are two fantastic ways of spending the day. If you like Nordic skating, the ploughed ice trail on Bäckfjärden is wonderful. And then you have to visit Paradiset Spa or have dinner at Linnea och Peter to make your visit complete.
What are you best tips for first-time snowshoers?
- Just to give it a go! Choose a crisp winter day when the temperature is about -5 degrees and a trail that is only a few kilometres long. Take your favourite packed lunch with lots of treats and a thermos of something warm. Once you have experienced a day like this, it won’t be long before you are planning your next one.
What equipment do you need for winter hiking?
- I think you should invest in a really good pair of winter boots if you don’t already have them. They make a great base to build on. If you know you are going to be out in the snow a lot, a boot with a removable liner can be an alternative, but a good pair or two of woollen socks is good enough for most people. A good set of base-layer long johns and long-sleeved top in wool is good if you want to stay dry and comfortable. Then add a warm mid layer, also preferably in wool, and finally a shell jacket with good ventilation. Last but not least a warm reinforcement jacket that will help you keep warm when you stop for a break. In principle, your clothing isn’t that different from summer hiking except that you need a thicker base layer and a warm jacket.