A Meditative Snowshoe Tour in the Vemdalen Mountains

Situated at 800 metres above sea level, the wide open plateaus in the Storhogna region in Swedish Vemdalen offer fantastic panoramic views – few places are better suited for a snowshoe tour. Add to that, a touch of luxury at the famous spa and indoor winter garden at Storhogna mountain hotel, the perfect base for your adventure, along with the fact that in the Swedish mountains one is never too far from a yummy waffle..!

Snowshoe hike | Photo: Anette Andersson
Snowshoe hike | Photo: Anette Andersson

Snowshoeing in the Winter Wonderland of Vemdalen

A sunrise in wintery January is nothing short of enchanting. The depth of the colour spectrum is simply astounding, the light in the west first changes from a deep blue to shades of cerise and pink as the golden yellow sun starts rising in the east. The January sun is tired and hangs low on the horizon but radiates on the peaks of the surrounding Vemdalen mountains. Direct shafts of light catch the ice crystals and the reflections make you feel like you are being surrounded by millions of diamonds. This is without doubt the best time of the day to be outdoors on a snowshoe tour and I remain captivated by the timeless magic of the sunrise.

Snowshoes are a perfect alternative for those who want to head into the mountains in winter, but are unaccustomed to having a pair of skis strapped to their feet. The wide surface area of the snowshoes allow one to walk over deep snow without sinking in too far into the soft snow and the lull in tempo one has on a snowshoe tour provides the perfect opportunities to stop for a coffee break. We head over to a felled tree stump and whip out the thermos and pour the steaming hot coffee. I wrap my hands around the mug and let the warmth seep through my hands. This is therapy to just sit in silence staring at the sun, meditating, absorbing the strength and peace the surroundings provide.  A herd of reindeer who have long taken notice of us trot off towards Bräckvallen as I pack the thermos away and continue the walk.

Waffel hut | Photo: Anette Andersson
Don't pass up on a stop at a waffle hut during your stay in the Swedish mountains. Photo: Anette Andersson

Swedish Waffle Houses

We have planned to visit the Samevistet waffle house along the way and we follow a marked trail, used for hiking and skiing, westward over the plateau between Slättfjället and Storhågnafjället directly towards the beautifully shaped Skruvfjället. In the Swedish mountains it is an old tradition to open up the shielings in winter and serve waffles to skiers passing by. They may even be cooked over open fire or on an old wooden stove since there is seldom electricity in these small old wooden houses. A few skiers pass by and the ski resort of Vemdalen has woken from its slumber, including the anticipated waffle house. A mini brunch of a waffle with the quintessential cloudberry jam is snaffled up in the sunshine streaming in through the balcony window. A short walk along the way we stop at an old shieling that was used in summers long ago for grazing of livestock, a fascinating piece of history that has been well preserved.

The Perfect Base for a Winter Adventure – Storhogna Högfjällshotell & Spa

With such short daylight hours we make our way back over the mountains towards the Storhogna Högfjällshotell & Spa and enjoy yet another cup of coffee in the exotic indoor “winter garden”. The hotel is perfectly suited as a base to head out on winter adventures with a maze of marked trails of all distances to follow. Stick to trails marked with a red wooden cross, which provide extra security if the weather should turn. The Samevistet waffle house lies 3.5km from the parking and hotel and is a perfect beginner’s tour. Extend the length of the snowshoe tour and head towards the Jaktstugan for a second waffle of the day. One way trips are possible thanks to a snowcat that operates at set times during the day. An alternative full-days tour is to head via Bräckvallen and Jo-Ols-Karivallen, which combines physical adventure and historical storytelling across the five smaller farmsteads and cabins for visitors. A return trip to the hotel over the open mountain terrain totals 19 kilometres in distance.

Storhogna Högfjällshotell & Spa | Photo: Tina Stafrén
The atmosphere at Storhogna Högfjällshotell & Spa is meditative and truly relaxing. Photo: Tina Stafrén

Hiking with Snowshoes

Snowshoes were originally essential items for hunting or working in forest in the winters. It’s an antiquated form of transport that has seen a resurgence in recent times. The first snowshoes were made of wooden frames and leather straps. Modern day snowshoes are made of lightweight aluminium or plastic and contrary to their invention, are almost exclusively used for recreational purposes. Snowshoes are suitable for both young and old and require a little bit of getting used to. Users can fasten their heel or have them loose, depending on preference. Walking takes on a new form as you have to expand your stance to accommodate the wide profile of the snowshoes and waddle as you go, much like a penguin walks.  

Snowshoe hike | Photo: Anette Andersson
The red wooden crosses will guide you on the mountain.

HERE’S THE SKINNY

ACTIVITY

Snowshoe hiking

SEASON

Winter, early spring

SKILL LEVEL

Easy

DISTANCE

From a few kilometers to day tours.

START & ACCOMMODATION

Storhogna Högfjällshotell & Spa, 20 minutes from Vemdalen.

FOR WHO

Show shoes are suitable for adults and children and anyone who wants to head outdoor into the nature during winter.

EQUIPMENT

Snowshoes and poles can be rented at Storhogna. Warm, stabile shoes are essentials.

GETTING HERE

The nearest railway station is Röjan with transfer bus to all parts of Vemdalen. Busses run regularly to Vemdalen. Alternatively fly to Östersund and go by transfer bus, rent a car or taxi to Storhogna.

MAP

Maps of the areas trails and tours are for sale at Storhogna Högfjällshotell & Spa.

SHELTERS & WAFFEL HOUSES

There are numerous shelters along the ski trails with firewood. Remember to leave wood for the next visitors when you leave the cabin. The closest waffle house to Storhogna are the Samevistet and Jaktstugan. Check the schedule of the snowcat for set departure times if you want to use this mode of transportation.  

SAFETY

Check the weather before heading out. Be prepared for weather changes in the mountains. Make sure you notify your next of kin of your whereabouts in case you need to be found.

ARE WE MISSING SOMETHING?

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Keep in mind

  1. Trails are shared with other outdoor enthusiasts. Follow ski tracks which are often marked by a red wooden cross. Keep a look out for snowmobiles if you are following snowmobile tracks. Remember to keep off the prepared ski tracks which are meant for skiers.
  2. Respect the nature, take your litter with you and leave only footprints.
  3. Snowshoe hiking is slower than skiing and snowmobiles. Show respect by stepping aside.
  4. Keep dogs on a leash. The area is home to populations of nesting birds that can be disturbed by dogs. Enjoy the animals from a respectable distance.

More adventures on snowshoes – Mt Renfjället

There are many great spots for a snowshoe tour in the Swedish mountains. From the small mountain village Edsåsdalen, 20 km from Åre, there is an easy accessible summit route one shouldn’t pass up on.

Starting from the village of Edsåsdalen, a marked winter trail winds its way uphill, through silent forests, over frozen lakes and snow-covered rocks wrapped up in the glow from the soft winter sun. During some smaller steep parts the claws of the snowshoes kick in making the incline barely noticeable. Upon summiting the peak, 5 kilometres have been covered and the descent is an even easier undertaking. Along the hike one passes Vita Renen Mountain Station where you can treat yourself with Swedish delights for lunch.

To make something extra of the tour, choose a day when Vita Renen is open for dinner (usually just once a week) and let the moon guide your way when you walk down from the mountain station. Look for tracks from moose and fox and don’t forget to stop, look up at the starlit sky and enjoy the silence.

Snowshoe hike | Photo: Anette Andersson
With snowshoes strapped to your feet taking on the top of Mt Renfjället in the Åre mountains is an easy undertaking.