Sunday, October 22, 2017

Cesar's Guide to The Troll Trail/Trollleden: Introduction

The Troll Trail (or TT for short, or Trollleden in Swedish) is a long distance hiking route I created that goes from city of Göteborg in the south, to lake Grövelsjön in the north on the Swedish-Norwegian border.  It passes through mostly southwest Sweden, but at times goes into southeast Norway or follows along close to (or even right on) the border.  It is approximately 1,100km long, but there are several side trails, loops, and optional parts of the route that are not included in that total.

The TT can be hiked as an alternative section of the E1 European long distance path in Sweden, rather than the official Swedish E1 route.  You can read more about the official E1 route in my guide to it here.  I created the TT as a direct result of hiking the Swedish E1.  While I enjoyed this path overall, there were some problems with several sections, such as lack of trail maintenance, very little information/documentation, very isolated areas (making it difficult to resupply or have access to public transportation), and some sections had quite a bit of walking on asphalt and/or gravel roads.

But the shortcomings of the official Swedish E1 trail was not my only motivation in putting together this trail.  After many years hiking in the areas that the TT goes through, I really fell in love with the nature and terrain of places like Bohuslän and Dalsland.  I discovered more obscure nature reserves and woodland trails that not as many hikers travel to, or even know exist.  Yet other established and well known hiking trails were not that far away.  The more I hiked, the more a new route made sense, and I had a great time in the process as well.

A few new trails would have to be made to connect certain areas, so I decided to do just that around 2015 with some initial exploration trips.  While there are some new paths to walk, the majority of the TT is made up of marked and generally well maintained long distance hiking paths here in southwest Sweden.  In fact, further up north--at The South King's Trail (Södra Kungsleden) near the village of Sälen--the TT merges with the official Swedish E1.  

But my new route needed a name, and "alternative route to the official Swedish E1 trail" doesn't really sound as cool or roll off the tongue.  So I came up with the name "Troll Trail" because:

1.  Trolls (the mythological monsters) are both cool and of Scandinavian origin.

2.  In Swedish the word "troll" can also be used as a verb to express creating something out nothing (i.e. magically).  For example: "Jag kan inte trolla fram det." meaning "I can't make it out of thin air."  And in a way I am creating a trail out of nothing.

3.  The route goes through quite a lot of woodland that is considered "trollskog," meaning roughly "dark, still, and spooky woods" that is traditionally associated with where mythological trolls would live or be found in folklore.

Please keep in mind that this is still a work in progress, but below is a list of the seven general sections that make the TT.  The ones that I have already hiked and written a trail guide on I will provide a link to, and in the future I plan on writing new trail guides for the rest of the trail as I have the opportunity to hike them.  When possible I will also provide links to official websites of trails and nature reserves that are a part of the TT.  If you plan on hiking here and have never done so before, please check out my crash course to backpacking in Sweden here with lots of good, general info.

Please feel free to offer feedback or ask questions via email (you can find my email on my blog profile).

The Troll Trail Sections (from south to north):

1. The City of Gothenberg/Göteborg!

I love this city!  It's Sweden's second biggest city, and is a really cool place.  There are lots of good aspects to this city, but I will stick to the ones that are the most relevant for backpackers.  Though it is worth mentioning that it often rates high on lists for travelers/tourists, like being one of the most social cities in the world, and even certain fancy-pants types say nice things about it.  And of course you can also check out the Lonely Planet guide for more touristy or urban backpacking type stuff to do.

The official E1 starts in the small city of Varberg to the south, which becomes all the more smaller when compared with Gothenburg.  And honestly, having hiked the trail from Varberg to Göteborg, I wasn't that impressed with that stretch of trail.  Which is why I skipped them entirely in planning the TT.  Not to mention that if you are doing a thru-hike of the E1 trails (going north or southbound), it's probably more convenient and fun to have Göteborg as your first or last stop in Sweden.  

Göteborg has two airports, a big train station with connections all over Scandinavia, and you can also catch a ferry over to or from Denmark (as well as other places like Germany).  So if you are thru-hiking the European E1, rather than taking the ferry from Varberg to or from Grenå, Denmark, you sail to or from Frederikshavn, Denmark--and hey, you get to see a bit more of Denmark in the process.  Highly recommend taking a zero day or two in Göteborg before you leave, though!

Back to useful stops for backpackers.  Right in center city there are camping and sporting goods stores, just ask around or Google.  Naturkomaniet is going to be more expensive, high end gear--but UL has not really caught on in Sweden yet.  There are cheaper places to buy gear, especially clothing, like at Intersport.  But if you are just looking for food and fuel, well there are plenty of supermarkets, but you can find Esbit, gas canisters, and alcohol a hardware stores called Clas Ohlson (and usually cheaper than camping/outdoor stores).  And finally, there are lots of nice pubs around, but some of my favorite are around Järntorget down the side street of Andra Långgatan.

Finding the TT in Göteborg is easy.  An entry point to start north on Bohusleden can be found in various parts of the city, but the Skatås trailhead is perhaps the most accessible, which is why I chose it as the southern terminus for the TT.  You also go from city to woods pretty fast once you head out on the trail.  To find it head to the eastern part of the city past the amusement park Liseberg.  It's about 5km from the Central Station and makes for a nice city walk, with parks and canals along the way.  Or you can catch the number 5 tram and get off at the Welandergatan stop, then it's just down the road to the east less than a kilometer away.

2.  Bohusleden 

From stage 3 (Skatås trailhead) to stage 22 (Nornäs trailhead), approx. 270km.

Here is the introduction to my guide to Bohusleden.  

Or you can skip right to this post I wrote after hiking the whole trail, where I explain how I would hike it again and why.

And here is this trail's official website (in Swedish).

3.  Hiking across Dalsland 

From Nornäs to the border of Värmland, approx. 160km.

Part One: The Ed Loop (about 25km from Nornäs to the town of Ed)

Part Two: The DCR (about 60km from Ed to Pilgrimsleden near Upperud)
Part Three: Pilgrimsleden (about 55km from Upperud to Edsleskog)
Part Four: The Edsleskogs Loop (about 20km from Edsleskog to the Värmland border)

Here are six PDF maps I put together with the route connecting Bohusleden and Pilgrimsleden.  Note that this route is not marked and at times you are bushwhacking/going off trail, so a compass and solid map skills are of course highly recommended.  These maps don't include much of Pilgrimsleden or The Edsleskogs Loop because those two trails are generally well marked, and if you check out my guide to them, there are links to good PDF maps that are already available.

4.  Pilgrimsleden Värmland and Glaskogen Nature Reserve trails
From the Värmland border to Norway/southern end of Finnskogsleden, approx 140km.

Part one: From the Edsleskog Loop to the south end of Glaskogen (about 50km)

Part two: From Glaskogen to the northern part of Pilgrimsleden Värmland (can vary wildly depending on how you hike through this nature reserve, but I think a good estimate is 70-90km)

More parts coming soon.

 5.  Finnskogsleden
From southern terminus to Swedish border/Knappleden, approx. 230km

Trail guides coming soon. 

Here is the official website of this trail.

6.  Knappleden to Södra Kungsleden
From Norwegian border to Sälen Högfjällshotellet, approx. 70km

Trail guide coming soon.

7.  Södra Kungsleden

From Sälen to Grövelsjön, approx. 220km

Part One: Sälen Högfjällshotellet to Mörkret (about 110km)

Part Two: Mörkret to Flötningen (about 70km)

Here is the official website of this trail (in Swedish), and here is a PDF with a map and information on this trail in English.

Last updated: 06/07/2019
Added guide to Glaskogen.