Trail Running Around Swedish Lakes

Trail running offers more than just a chance to get out and exercise in the surrounding nature. Bounding along supple pathways, through silent forests and shimmering mountain lakes is one of the best ways to soothe the body and soul. Trail running around one of many lakes in Sweden is particularly attractive. Southern Årefjällen in the Swedish mountains, delivers one of the very best lake runs. High up in the mountains, over undulating sub-alpine terrain and revealing itself through the ancient forests, lies Blanktjärn, the emerald green, incandescent Swedish lake. It’s a beautiful, 12 km long trail loop that’s perfectly suited for runners looking for a day’s adventure in the mountains.

Löpning vid Blanktjärn, Vålådalen | Foto: Anette Andersson

Old forests & incandescent lakes

In the middle of the ancient forests in the Vålådalen nature reserve lies the almost mythical Swedish lake Blanktjärn. The lake, located up in the mountains in central Sweden is renowned amongst locals for its unique colour. The emerald green lake, similar to that of the gem stones, shyly reveals itself through gaps in the forest in the approach. It’s for this exact reason the motivation for us lies in climbing out of bed and tightening our trail shoes. The thick forests are shrouded in the wisps of morning mist and it’s a perfect day for running.

The adventure starts at the gathering point of the area’s trail system, outside the Vålådalen mountain lodge. Clear signage with the name “Blanktjärn” points the way along the damp trails that lead to this mythical lake. The first kilometre along a dirt road takes us to the crystal clear Vålån stream, with its suspension bridge that provides a safe way over the stream without getting our feet wet. The trail then leads its way along the stream, meandering through the twisted and contorted shaped birch forests. The terrain in the beginning makes for easy running and is a perfect warm up, before the trail reaches a cross road, which loops around the lake. Turning right, the landscape changes to undulating hills and the ancient forests, untouched by mankind’s influence, rich in diversity of both fauna and flora and standing proud since the inception of the Vålådalens nature reserve, in 1988.

Don’t miss the breath-taking lookout point to the right, after the cross roads. Well worth a running stop.

The forest thins as we climb higher into the alpine territory. As our legs warm up, the path begins to become easier to run. Our rhythm falls into place allowing our eyes to focus on the panoramic mountains encircling us. In autumn, the vegetation’s colours span out like flames that cover the grassy landscape, which once served as grazing for farmers over 100 years ago, before the area was protected.

Ledskylt för löpning vid Blanktjärn, Vålådalen | Foto: Anette Andersson

Like no other Swedish lake

The variation in the terrain leads the route through downhills and pass through a combination of the ancient forests and contorted mountain birch. As the pace increases, so does our pulse as we bound over the rocks and stones, parrying and hopping our way over streams and gnarly roots. Total running time loses importance as we watch our step, broken by the occasional lifting of the gaze to soak in the scenery. The adrenalin buzz that’s known as “runners high” fuels the body and mind. The sense of freedom, and the knowing that a breathtaking, emerald green lake lies ahead, motivates us to keep pushing up the final steep sandy incline, lungs burning, power hiking our way up.

We pass along other lakes before the sign suddenly appears: “Östra Blanktjärn”. We don’t need to read the sign to know that we are there. The incandescent emerald colour of the lake pierces its way through the pine trees like no other Swedish lake we know of and the striking beauty of the area is not lost on us, as we take the opportunity to catch our breath and rest our legs on one of the benches around the lake. Sweden’s nature has its ways of reinforcing its image time and time again, with the glimmering lake, framed by the forests with the Lunndörrsfjällen Mountain forming the backdrop.

Pulling ourselves away from the lake towards Vålådalen we reach a small climb after a few hundred meters, followed by steeper, technical sections that require a slight degree of concentration. Parts of the trail have wooden footbridges and bounce slightly as we run over them and provide a spring in our feet. We finally reach the suspension bridge again and take the opportunity to dip our legs in the cool refreshing water, releasing the muscles fatigue from the run. The sun now shines high in the sky. There are few ways better than to start the day with a brisk run to this gem among Swedish lakes. This is a high that makes us want to return and discover more trails and unspoilt lakes, over and over again.

Löpning vid Blanktjärn, Vålådalen | Foto: Anette Andersson
Limestone rich base and crystal clear waters are the reason for the emerald green colour of the lake | Photo: Anette Andersson

The emerald colour of the lake

The emerald to turquoise nuances colour of the lake stems from the limestone rich base of the surrounding geology, together with the immense clarity and purity of the water. On warm summer days the limestone sediments sink to the bottom of the lake and forms a reflective base. As the sunlight refracts and breaks down in the water, the lake reflects its unique colours, with nuances of turquoise, azure and emerald.

HERE’S THE SKINNY

ACTIVITY

Trail Running, Hiking

SEASON

Spring, Summer, Autumn

SKILL LEVEL

Medium – Some degree of fitness required

DISTANCE

Approx. 12 km

ELEVATION GAIN

Approx. 210 m

START

Vålådalen parking – free parking. Follow the signposts ”BLANKTJÄRN” which leads from the parking.

MAP

Åre Trail – Trail Running
Åre Trails – Hiking
Åre Trails – Biking 
Z7 Åre-Vålådalen-Bydalen

TERRAIN

Uneven trails, footbridges, gravel roads and marshlands. The marshlands and pathways surrounding them can be boggy after rain.

REST AREAS

Numerous benches and rest spots surround the emerald coloured Blanktjärna Lake (6 km).

PACKING LIST

Water, energy bars and trail mix/snacks. A wind-proof jacket. First aid kit is optional with use of the trail, at your own risk.

PHOTOGRAPHERS TIPS

The emerald coloured Swedish lake provides the best view from above in its approach, on one of the small gravel hills surrounding the lake.

WHERE TO EAT

Vålådalen Mountain Station

DON’T MISS

The Vålådalen Naturum, which lies adjacent to the parking and provides information on the surrounding nature reserve.

ARE WE MISSING SOMETHING?

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XC biking around Blanktjärn | Photo: Simon Sjörén

…by the way, ice skating on the lake has its own magic

In the late autumn, when the conditions are just perfect, somewhere between October and November, and after a few days of minus degrees, the lake becomes an even greater attraction to go ice skating. The ice is completely transparent and you are able to silently glide over the ice, chasing fish and get captivated by yet another dimension of the lake.

Ice skating on Blanktjärn | Photo: Jonas Landmark