Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Cesar's Guide to Hiking Värmland: Charlottenberg to Röjden

This section is a continuation of my alternate Swedish E1 trail called The Troll Trail/Trolleden.  Click here for more information on this trail system.  The southern end of this section is the town of Charlottenberg, which has a train station, public library, hotels/hostels/B&Bs, and resupply options.  At the northern end of this section is the big lake Röjden, which has campsites with trail shelters on both the north and south shores of the lake, and about 4km down the highway to the east in the hamlet of Röjdåfors there is a bus stop.  Note that this bus stop does not have service on the weekends, and that you may have to call to book a bus at certain times.  But if you manage to catch a bus way out there, you can take it southeast to the village of Östmark or the small town of Torsby further on to resupply, get a hotel/hostel/B&B, or a train/bus elsewhere.

This section mostly follows Finnskogleden and is about 85km long.  Here is a link to the official website for this trail.  The trail goes back and forth between Sweden and Norway, however when I did this section hike due to Covid-19 the Norwegian border was closed.  So I hiked alternative routes going northbound to complete this section on the Swedish side, but was still able to cover most of the trail in Sweden and the parts that go right on the border.  The area that this section passes through is fairly isolated, so backpackers should be sure to be stocked up on supplies before hiking Finnskogsleden.  Water (and a lot of really clear, clean, cold, flowing water!) is plentiful, though, with various streams, springs, and lakes.

There are also some parts of the trail that are not well marked or maintained, but nothing that lasts long or makes things too difficult.  At times the trail follows backwoods roads and lumber trails, and while it is in the forest often the trail is only slightly larger than an animal trail.  There were several times I was up to my waist in vegetation, and on a few occasions literally in over my head!  Do be careful passing through this thick vegetation, of course, not only for ticks but also for snakes.  I saw several snakes on or close to the trail on this hike.  

This makes for a more woodsy, wild experience hiking this section, up and down several steep hills that form a natural borderland between the two nations. There are also many crossings through bogs and over streams and springs, so you are pretty much guaranteed wet feet and soaked shoes.  This all translates into this section being a bit more of a challenging hike, but this is rewarded with some lovely views and cozy, off-the-beaten-path campsites.

Trip Report

I hiked this section in July of 2020 after many hours of extra planning due to Covid-19.  As mentioned, the Norwegian border was closed for travel, so I had to carefully plan ways to connect and re-connect with the trail at various points in this area as I headed northbound.  But overall things ended up working out well, though as I also noted earlier, this section is not without its challenges.  The first minor challenge was to get to the trail after I got off the train in Charlottenberg.  Normally one could walk into Norway, or perhaps even hitchhike or take public transit just across the border, in order to get to the official southern terminus of Finnskogleden.  But I would follow backwoods dirt roads that connected to the trail further up north close to the small lake Klättjärnet.

From there the trail weaves in and out of the woods and backwoods roads and is a pleasant hike.  There is a decent trail shelter at lake Skålsjön, and then later on down the trail there is an unmarked trail cabin at Lomstorp that is easy to miss.  So if you are looking for a nice cabin to spend the night, after passing Lomstorp keep your eyes peeled for a side trail to the east that takes you to the cabin, which is close to the shore of Lomsen lake.  Shortly after the cabin the trail heads back into Norway, so I looped north on the Swedish side and rejoined the trail at Millomberget.  

There the trail follows the border for a bit then goes back into Norway before it goes back into Sweden yet again to lake Nyckelvattnet.  I again stuck to the Swedish side and made my way to Nyckelvattnet, where thankfully the trail stays in Sweden until Röjden.  Close to Nyckelvattnet there is a large, good cabin that I stopped at for lunch that would make an excellent spot to spend the night.  Past that there is another not bad lean-to trail shelter at lake Hällsjön.  

Getting to or from Röjden at this point I would recommend that hikers follow the dirt road that goes to the Knossi area rather than hike over the Knossiberg hill (until trail maintenance is done on this part of the trail).  While there is a great view on top of this hill, the trail is poorly marked and there were also a bunch of trees that had fallen over, making for a difficult hike down the hill and to lake Röjden.

At lake Röjden on each side of the lake there are nice campsites, though I preferred the one on the north shore.  There is also a WW2 memorial here, and a rocky beach for swimming.  After spending the night at Röjden, I hiked east to the bus stop to catch a bus to Torsby, ending yet another exciting section hike on the Troll Trail.  Enjoy the photo essay of my journey below.