Saturday, May 9, 2015

Cesar's Guide to the E1 Trails in Sweden: Mockfjärd to Leksand


Sorry, but some complications and nuances of this section of the E1 require a bit of a longer introduction.  So bare with me if you plan on actually hiking here, or just skip down for the pretty pictures.

The official Swedish E1 information website neglects a lot of details and information on this section, only listing the Gagnefs Pasture Paths as connecting to Siljanleden Trail.  However shortly after traveling past the small town of Mockfjärd going northbound, one will soon find themselves in an area with a whole network of different trails that are in and around the small city of Leksand.

Leksand's commune has a website with information on outdoor life and a lot of these trails, however it is mostly in Swedish.  

Here is a PDF of a map of the Leksand area from the city's site, which is quite helpful.  The map works, but is a bit simplified, so it's not something intended to use for going off-trail/bushwhacking.  The map also does not cover Mockfjärd, but it's only about 10km from there to where the map of Leksand's trails begins.  The map is rather large, so when printing I suggest printing it out as a 9 page poster, though you probably won't need to bring the entire map.

As you can see on the map, there are many different trails in and around the Leksand area--a total of 41 trails are listed!  However many of these trails are small and/or don't connect with the E1 trail.  It's odd that the official E1 site does not include anything about this system of trails.  At any rate, if you only follow the official E1 trail, it passes by Leksand to the north-west and connects with Siljanleden.  It's hard to give an exact estimate of how far it is from Mockfjärd to either Leksand to the north or where it meets up Siljanleden to the north-west.  For one, I'm not exactly sure where Siljanleden begins*, and due to the variety this area has to offer, hikers can pick and choose many different paths to either this next trail or to center city Leksand.

*Update 14/05/2015:  I have since bought a better map of the area for my next section hike, and turns out that Siljanleden leads right into Leksand, so you can pick it up at various points in this area.  The path I took north before turning east to Leksand actually intersects with Siljanleden at the Granberg campground, where I made camp at a good trail shelter (see:below).*

But roughly from Mockfjärd to where the above map shows Siljanleden marked in the north-west is about 50-55km, and that's if you walk a more "direct" route.  The path I chose to take was a more direct route north towards Leksand--because I am a section hiker and could catch a train there--and was roughly 45km.  So this report will be on this route rather than the official E1 trail, though there were times that I did follow the E1.  But really the path to Leksand, however one chooses to hike, will be a mix-up/mishmash of various different trails, roads, and even small highways.

Traveling southbound, the E1 continues on to the Ludvika/Smedjebacken area, and you can read my report on that stage here.  Traveling northbound, the trail goes on to Siljanleden (which eventually goes to the city of Mora), and you can check out my report on this section here. 

*Update 25/02/2017: For anyone doing a long section hike or a thru hike and is feeling ambitious, you may want to consider hiking over to Bjursås from Leksand and checking out a lovely little 35km looping trail called Vildmarksleden. You can hike there following various trails and dirt roads in the area, or take a public transportation there and hike back, or even hike there and back to the E1 again--there are lots of optionsHere is my trail guide on this loop.*

If you have not read the introduction to this trail guide yet, you can do so here, and there is also a list of links to other completed reports of the Swedish E1 trails.  Please keep in mind this is still a work in progress. 

Now on to the guide!


Leaving Mockfjärd going northbound, there is already a foreshadowing of things to come with all the different trails converging just outside of town at the Grådbodarna campsite.  Even getting to this campsite you have a variety of options.  As I did on the section before, I did my best to stick to what appeared to be the official E1 trail for most of the short (5-6km) hike to this campsite, but this would soon change the next day.  

It's a great place to spend the night, with a nice view, a trail shelter, a small well for good/clean water (look about 50m east of the shelter past the first/closest cottage), benches, and a big firepit.  The shelter is meant more for sitting than sleeping, as a table is built into the middle of it, so I pitched my tent just outside where there is plenty of space to set up your own shelter.  Though because this is an exposed clearing, expect more wind, of course.

The next day I was excited to move on to the next phase of my journey, as I would be traveling off the 638 Borlänge map I had, and would be moving on to the Leksand area trails.  The trails have numerous trail shelters and even a few cabins, and there are plenty of streams, lakes, and even wells to fill up on water.  There are also quite a lot of summer homes, cottages, and a fair amount of creepy abandoned farms and shacks around too.  And no more poorly marked or not marked at all trails from what I experienced--lots of good trail markers, signs, maps, etc.

I had planned in advance to hike towards Leksand rather than follow the E1, as I mention in the introduction above.  But at first I followed the E1 (which is marked as trail number 4 on the Leksand trail map linked above), then headed east on Fäbodled (number 5 on the map), and then briefly onto Gyllingsån i Djura trail (number 18) that ends close to the lake Gyllingen.  From there I followed the dirt road north that passes by the lake, where there is a shelter on the northern shores.  

I had some lunch at this shelter before continuing on north on the dirt road to Skeberget trails (number 6).  As you will see, it's more of a sit-and-have-lunch type shelter then a spend-the-night type shelter.  However earlier on there is an overnight shelter in a small collection of summer cottages (Forsbodarna).

I highly recommend the Skeberget trails up to the Klitten viewpoint.  It's a lovely hike with several nice views of the surrounding area.  I also shot a quick video while I was at the viewpoint, which I will include below.  

After coming down the big hill, I went north until I re-connected with the E1 trail and followed it to lake Yxen.  By the lake there is a dirt road that goes directly up to the Granberg cottages/campsite*, where there are two shelters.  One is another sitting around type shelter, the other is more for spending the night.  In spite of looking a bit run down, the shelter was quite nice--good head room, benches on the inside, only 20m or so from a spring, fire pit, table, and good coverage from the forest too.

*Update continued: Here if you follow the marked trail west rather than east as I did towards Leksand, you are will continue on Siljansleden.  It appears as though the official E1 trail meets up with and continues on Siljansleden about 1.5km from Granberg to the west, just north of lake Yxen.

The next day I just followed signs that pointed towards Leksand, where it is only about a 9km hike into the city.  As it turns out, this is actually the last part of Siljansleden going southbound.  It's a pleasant hike and Leksand is a quaint little city with plenty of good stuff for backpackers to take advantage of, such as the train station I ended my trip at.  

Overall this was an excellent section hike and I particularly enjoyed the Leksand area trails that I hiked, though some of them are not "officially" a part of the E1 trail.  Think of this section as one of those "chose your own adventure" type books, where you can pick and choose your own unique path out of dozens of different trails and roads.