The Wilderness Road for Little Explorers

The forests, the mountains and the lakes form a gigantic playground for little explorers – do our kids really need a Disneyland? A journey along the Wilderness Road in northern Jämtland Härjedalen is suitable for kids with adventurous families who want to follow in the footsteps of the Swedish fairy tale character Dunderklumpen, meet friendly Husky dogs, stay at a country store, feel the water in the waterfalls, search for water in the mysterious Bjurälven river, crawl into the Coral Cave, count the sami huts in Ankarede, spot wild animals, and swim in Lake Blåsjön (the Blue Lake).

This journey starts in Umeå, for example, for those arriving with the Wasaline ferry boat from Vasa, but you can begin your wilderness adventure from wherever you like. The Wilderness Road itself is approximately a 500 km round trip: Dorotea – Hoting – Strömsund – Gäddede – Stekenjokk – Vilhelmina – Dorotea.

See the tour in Google Maps.

Tour map from Umeå, but you can start your Wilderness Road experience from wherever you like.
Curiosum Umeå
At Curiosum in Umeå, you can film yourself in space using green screen.

Solve tricky tasks, adventure play, and thrilling mountain carts in Umeå

At Curiosum in Umeå, the whole family can explore science and technology. Curiosum is Umeå University’s science center where visitors are allowed to experiment, program, create, build, play, solve tricky problems, and embark on breathtaking film adventures in the so-called dome theater. A bit outside Umeå in Klabböle, there is the summer-open Umeå Energicentrum, a family-friendly attraction built around Umeå’s first power plant from the late 1800s. It is a scenic environment with many historical buildings and activities for all ages, including guided tours of the Klabböle power plant museum. On the premises, there is also a café with lunch and coffee options, as well as an adventure playground for children. For families who prefer speed and excitement, Mountain carts in Kassjöbacken outside Umeå are recommended. It’s a kind of large tricycle that you ride up the hill using the ski lift and then choose from various tracks down the hill. The longest track is 800 meters.

Umeå Energicentrum Klabböle
Stop at the Umeå energy center in Klabböle on your round trip towards the Wilderness road.

Can you find the art placed along the Seven Rivers Art Road?

Follow the Seven Rivers Art Road (Konstvägen Sju Älvar) from Umeå to Dorotea and compete to be the first to spot the nine different artworks along the way. Among them is a church in a bog made of mirrors. The artwork is called “Mirage.” Googling a map showing where the artworks are located is considered cheating (just saying).

Hiking on Drakryggen (The dragon's back) by Lögdeälven on your journey towards Wilderness Road
Hiking on Drakryggen (The dragon's back) by Lögdeälven on your journey towards the Wilderness Road. STP Media AB

Take a walk on a dragon’s ridge by the Lögde river

Can one walk on a dragon’s ridge? Yes, indeed! The Lögde River is known for its gorges, meandering bends, and various forms of terraces along its banks. The Dragon’s Ridge, which truly lives up to its name, is the most impressive of the sandbanks along the river, where a path follows the narrow, winding ridge.

Learn all about moose and taste moose cheese outside Bjurholm

Meet the king of the forest up close and learn all about the moose at the Moose House in Bjurholm (Älgens hus). If you arrive around mealtime, you can help feed the mighty bulls. Or pet the adorable calves and take the opportunity to buy some moose cheese (!) to take home. A popular destination for the whole family. Drop-in open during the summer.

Ivars Car Museum Hoting Lena Hedman
Vintage cars at Ivar's car museum in Hoting. Photo: Lena Hedman

A royal car, Stone Age tools, and a splash from the bathing pier in Hoting

Ivars Car Museum in Hoting has nearly a hundred cars, around forty motorcycles, and model cars, making the museum one of Europe’s finest and largest. One of the more remarkable cars belonged to King VI Adolf and Queen Louise. Across the road at Hoting’s camping site, there is an exhibition about life in Hoting during the Stone Age with replicas of tools and clothing. After two museum visits, it might be a good idea to take a dip from the camping site’s pier and perhaps stay the night in the cosy cabins?

The characters from the Swedish movie Dunderklumpen. Tecknare: Per Åhlin

Say hello to the giant Jorm at “Hempan” in Strömsund

Dunderklumpen is a small fairy-tale character with overalls, a backpack, a hat, and a little tail at the back, who is the main character in the Swedish movie of the same name. He is very lonely and sneaks into a little girl’s room one midsummer night to make her dolls his friends. Through magic, he brings them to life, and thus the adventure begins. Together, they walk, run, and paddle north from the Island outside Strömsund, through Ströms Vattudal up to Gäddede and the Norwegian border. All the while, they are pursued by the girl’s brother and father, and also the greedy One-Eye who wants to take the treasure chest that Dunderklumpen possesses.

At the Homestead museum in Strömsund, or “Hempan” as the locals call it, you can find the Giant Jorm from the tale of Dunderklumpen. During the summer, you can hear the story of Dunderklumpen from the house on Giant Jorm’s nose. At the Strömsund Tourist Information, you can buy the Dunderklumpen movie and various souvenirs featuring Dunderklumpen. If you want to visit the locations where the Dunderklumpen movie was filmed, there’s a map to follow.

At the Homestead museum, there are activities where children can participate in “time travels” to go back in time and play in historical environments tailored for young explorers. For example, there’s a “Play Barn,” which is a barn with wooden animals that children can play with and craft with, and there’s also a small trading post where children can play shopkeeper or go shopping.

At Strömsunds camping, you can enjoy free swimming

Near the bridge over Ströms Vattudal, you’ll find Strömsunds Camping, which offers free heated swimming in three different pools. Just a stone’s throw away from the camping site, there’s a low-cost department store called Dollar Store for those who want to find bargains of all sorts. Additionally, there’s a 9-hole golf course with a driving range just a short distance from the camping site’s reception.

Nordic Husky Farm Wilderness Road
Happy dogs at Nordic Husky Farm. Photo: Nordic Husky Farm

Petting friendly huskies at the Nordic Husky Farm

Head straight from Strömsund directly to the Nordic Husky Farm to meet all the cute and friendly husky dogs raised here. They love to cuddle and snuggle with you, and together with the owners, you can choose to join a dog walk or a longer excursion on foot or by boat. You can even stay overnight with the cuddly dogs nearby.

The horse Lisa, Norråker.
Stay in the countryside at Norråker's store. The horse Lisa likes to pull the cart. Photo: Norråkers lanthandel

Stay at the country store in Norråker

In Norråker, you can stay in a real country store in an apartment with old-fashioned furniture. The country store not only has the essentials like bread and milk, but they are actually well-known for their selection of delicacies such as delicious cheeses, charcuterie, and chocolates. At Basecamp Norråker, guests can experience what it’s like to live in the countryside with horses, Husky dogs, and evening swims in Lake Tåsjön.

Hällingsåfallet Andreas Magnusson
Hällingsåfallet with Northern Europe´s longest canyon. Photo: Andreas Magnusson

The rainbow ends (and begins) at Hällingsåfallet

If you’re feeling energetic, you can start at the Hällingsåns parking lot and hike along the 5 km trail up the riverbed and the canyon formed by the rushing water, which cascades down into the 40-meter high waterfall at the end of the trail. At Hällingsåfallet, there are almost always two rainbows, and the moisture that forms creates rare mosses and lichens along the edges. Take it easy because the moisture also makes the ground slippery and make sure you leave nothing but footprints to preserve the nature around the waterfall.

Visit Frostviken's information to gain knowledge about nature and culture
Visit Frostviken's exhibition to give knowledge about nature and culture about the area. Photo: Anne Adsten

Crawl through the mini coral cave in the heart of Gäddede Tourist Information

At the Tourist Information center in the heart of Gäddede, you can get answers to all sorts of questions about the area and the Wilderness Road. Proceed through the mini Coral Cave into the exhibition showcasing samples of the area’s nature, featuring common animals such as reindeer, bear, raven, ptarmigan, as well as lemmings, and culture with small display cases telling stories of both the Sami people and settlers in the area. Outside Frostviken Nature Information, there’s a mountain park with plants from the region and a playground.

Climb Sweden’s largest snowmobile in Gäddede

In the center of the village Gäddede, you’ll find the world’s largest snowmobile. Built in 1992, it measures a whopping 8.2 meters long, 2.5 meters wide, and 3.5 meters high, making it enormous. It’s so large that it made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Fishing Wilderness Road. Photo: Tomas Baudin
Fishing with kids along the Wilderness Road. Photo: Tomas Baudin

Children can enjoy free fishing at Jormvattnet

Within the Jormvattnet Fisheries Conservation Area, which includes a large number of lakes, fishing is free for young anglers up to the age of 17. These beautiful mountain lakes are abundant with both trout and char. Jormvattnet’s fishing camp provides equipment for rent if you’ve forgotten yours at home, and you can join a guided fishing tour. Remember to follow the fishing regulations for the area.

Adventurous children. Photo: Lotta Falk
Adventurous children by one of many waterfalls along the Wilderness Road. Photo: Lotta Falk

Explore the flat stones at Brakkåfallet

Brakkån flows into the western part of Lake Stora Blåsjön. Follow the trail from the parking lot about 100 meters upstream to see the lower Brakkåfallet with a natural shallow swimming pool underneath. You can shower in the waterfall, and since the slate stones have been smoothed flat and rounded by the water, the bottom is fairly soft to walk on. If you continue along the trail, you’ll reach the upper Brakkåfallet and further up to the tree line with a view over the area around Blåsjön (The Blue Lake).

Camp Stora Blåsjön - Wilderness Road
Camp Stora Blåsjön by the Wilderness Road.

Take a bath in Lake Stora Blåsjön

Lake Stora Blåsjön is Sweden’s fourth deepest lake, featuring lovely sandy beaches that are inviting for swimming on warm days. Below Camp Stora Blåsjön and the country store ICA Blåsjöfjäll, there is a bay where the water is considerably warmer than in the rest of the lake, as this more shallow part is more easily warmed by the sun.

Ankarede Church town. Photo: Lotta Falk
Ankarede Church town has both sami huts and settler timber huts for people staying for church weekends with services, marriages and funerals. Photo: Lotta Falk

In Ankarede you can try count the number of traditional Sami huts

Ankarede Church Town is Sweden’s southernmost church town still in use during major church holidays such as midsummer. Around the small white chapel, there are both wooden cottages and a large number of Sami huts, traditional Sami housing built on a wooden frame with turf around and split logs on the outside. Before there were cars and roads leading to Ankarede, Sami people and settlers would come here on foot or by boat to celebrate church services, weddings, baptisms, and funerals. A newly built small museum is located near the sami huts (samisk kåta/kåtor), and during the summer, the café in the church town is open. For children eager to explore, there is a 3 km long easy hiking trail along the Lejar River towards the Lejarfallet waterfall.

Bjurälven formationer Vilseledaren
Bjurälven nature reserve has unique natural features due to the geology. Photo: Vilseledaren

Why can’t you see the water in Bjurälven?

Bjurälven is also known as “the invisible river” because it flows underground in some parts. The entire area is an exciting nature reserve which you can reach from the parking lot at the settlement Leipikvattnet. After a 3 km hike from the parking lot, you’ll reach a shelter, from where you can take a loop trail with stairs up and down to see various formations like sinkholes where the river has found its way underground and siphons where the water emerges again. The total hike is about 10 km.

Doline lakes have been formed where the water has been trapped above ground, and there’s a channel with pot-shaped depressions formed by stones and gravel swirling around and grinding down the limestone (see photo). The Blind Valley is a green valley where the river runs underground. In the area lies Sweden’s longest cave, the Korallgrottan. So far, 7 kilometers of it have been mapped, but work to explore the cave system further is ongoing. In fact, there is a yearly expedition to map more and more of it each year.

Bjurälven is Scandinavia’s largest so called karst landscape, formed by carbonic acid in water dissolving the limestone in the bedrock. Due to its unique character, Bjurälven was named Sweden’s most exciting geological attraction in 2014 by the Geological Heritage. Join a guide or explore the area around Bjurälven on your own. Please note: You can not visit the Korallgrottan cave without a certified guide.

Lejarfallet - Only 3 km from Ankarede Church town. Photo: Lotta Falk
Lejarfallet - Only 3 km from Ankarede Church town. Photo: Lotta Falk

Avoid the vildvittrona (The evil fairies) at Gaustafallet waterfall

When the movie characters of famous the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren (who also wrote the story of Pippi Longstocking) Ronja and Birk tried to avoid the evil fairies by diving into a river, they were at Gaustafallet waterfall filming the episode in 1984.

The river Gauste is squeezed into a narrow passage in the slate bedrock, forming Gaustafallet waterfall, which is particularly majestic in early summer. The waterfall is easily accessible from the parking lot along the road towards Stekenjokk, just over a kilometer north of the turnoff to the settlement Leipikvattnet.

Vildmarksvägen| Foto: Madeleine Aaraas
The Wilderness Road in autumn colours. Photo: Madeleine Aaraas

Look for wild animals at Stekenjokk

Stekenjokk offers stunning views as you ascend towards the mountain plateau, reaching 876 meters above sea level, leaving the sparse birch forest behind. From Stekenjokk, you’ll have vistas of mountain peaks in every direction. The highest peak, Sipmekhe, rises to 1,414 meters above sea level. This area is rich in Sami cultural heritage, with reindeer having grazed here for many centuries. You might spot remnants of old hearths, storage pits, and former settlements where traditional Sami huts once stood. All reindeer you encounter will bear earmarks identifying their owners. Remember not to approach or follow the reindeer to avoid causing them stress; instead, choose to stay put and watch them from a distance or move slowly in another direction.

Stekenjokk is one of Sweden’s most accessible mountain areas, teeming with diverse flora and fauna. Park at one of the parking lots along the Wilderness Road to access hiking trails and fishing spots. Here, you’ll find a variety of animals and bird species. Examples include arctic foxes, wolverines, bears, and hares. Common bird species include golden plovers, ring ouzels, bluethroats, and snow buntings.

During the birds’ nesting period from June 10th to July 10th, it’s prohibited to venture off the road, parking lots, and rest areas along the Wilderness Road over Stekenjokk. However, you’ll still have opportunities to observe wildlife from the comfort of your car.

Well deserved
A well deserved "Swedish fika" after a hike. Photo: Andreas Edholm

The magic path and the seven rapids in Klimpfjäll

Klimpfjäll is a charming ski resort with 15 slopes and many hiking trails in the summer. The Norgefarargården (Going-to-Norway-Farm) in Klimpfjäll was built in the mid-19th century as a rest cabin for mountain farmers on their way to trading places in Norway. Today, the farm is open in the summer with a café and farm shop.

A lovely half-day hike leads via the “Trollstigen” (Troll path), which is marked with various trolls, further to Kullafallet waterfall. The trail then continues north along the Durrenbäcken stream. Then follows another 6 rapids, before the trail turns back towards the ski slopes. There are rest areas along the trail so that you can enjoy your packed lunch. During hot summer days, the trail offers great swimming opportunities in the natural pools formed in the creek.

Count more sami huts in Fatmomakke

The journey continues to the Sami church town of Fatmomakke, which resembles the church town in Ankarede but is considered the most prominent Sami church town in the country. The place has been important as a meeting place for Sami people and settlers since the 1700:s and still is. Are there more or fewer Sami huts in Fatmomakke compared to Ankarede?

Saxnäs and Trappstegsforsen

The journey continues to Saxnäs, a mountain village on the shore of Lake Kultsjön just south of the Marsfjäll mountains. Stop by Saxnäsgården Hotel & Conference for hiking, fishing, and Arctic fox safaris. Trappstegsforsen rapids is located 5 km from Saxnäs right next to the Wilderness Road. It’s the water from Lake Kultsjön that flows down the staircase-like stones in the rapids.

Vilhelmina and the World’s Largest Sami knife

Keep an eye out for the restaurant and shop Bergmans Fish & Game just before you reach Vilhelmina. They sell fantastic local delicacies such as smoked fish, meat, and cloudberries. Inside the town of Vilhelmina, you’ll find the cozy hostel Kyrkstaden (The church town) with renovated old cottages from when people from far came to Vilhelmina for larger church weekends. Visit Risfjells Sameslöjd (Sami handicraft) in Vilhelmina to learn more about the Sami culture in the area and see their handmade South Sami crafts, such as the world’s largest Sami knife.

From Vilhelmina, you can exit the Wilderness road and follow the E12 road, the Blue Road, towards Lycksele, Granö, and Umeå.

Muskox thriving in Härjedalen
Muskox Cow and Calf can be seen at the Lycksele Zoo. Photo: Penny Bunting

Lycksele zoo specializes in nordic animals

Lycksele Zoo is Sweden’s northernmost zoo and specializes in Nordic animals such as wolves, bears, lynxes, moose, seals, wild boars, reindeer, and musk oxen. The animal enclosures are designed to resemble the natural habitats where the animals prefer to stay. Young visitors can participate in Zoo School and watch the animals being fed. In the children’s section of the zoo, there are small animals that they can get close to and pet. Additionally, there is a “Lyckoland” (Lucky Land) with carousels and water play. We know that adults don’t always dare to say they love zoos, but Lycksele Zoo is fun for the whole family.

Roundtrip to Wilderness Road. Granö Beckasin outside Umeå. Photo: Bea Holmberg
Going back to Umeå after finishing the Wilderness Road. Granö Beckasin outside Umeå is the perfect stop. Photo: Bea Holmberg

Stay in treehouse and cuddle with sled dogs

At Granö Beckasin, you can stay in cozy bird nests high up in the trees and build your own timber raft to float along the river or simply hike in the surroundings. Nearby, there’s the Husky House where both children and adults can learn more about the company’s very cuddly huskies and how to operate a dog sled.

Cuddle with the dogs at Husky House outside Umeå. Photo: Bea Holmberg
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