Written by James Proctor
© Ildi Papp, Shutterstock
Stretching a whopping 800km and traversing no fewer than three countries, the Nordkalottleden trail is one of Europe’s least well-known hiking routes. In the south, the trail has two starting points: Kvikkjokk in Swedish Lapland and Sulitjelma in Norway (just across the border from Sweden’s Staloluokta). Over its entire length, the trail is marked with stone cairns and signs, and it crosses the national borders of Finland, Norway and Sweden a total of ten times. At Staloluokta, the two starting trails join up and head northeast towards Vaisaluokta, covering the same course as the Padjelantaleden. After a detour that hugs the Norwegian–Swedish border, the trail then veers northwards and joins the Kungsleden for the section between Kebnekaise and Abisko. From here, the trail cuts across into Norway and strikes a course directly for the three-nation border post, Treriksröset and Finnish border town of Kilpisjärvi. After another excursion into Norway and a change of direction, the route then fi nally heads southeast for its destination at Kautokeino in Norwegian Lapland. Naturally, nobody hikes the whole trail given the extreme distances involved, but sections of it are becoming increasingly popular with seasoned hikers looking for new challenges; the trail encompasses northern fell landscapes, lush birch forests, glaciers and steepsided gorges, and stretches 380km in Norway, 350km in Sweden and 70km in Finland. It is open from July to mid-September. Unfortunately, very little material exists in English about the trail but an extremely detailed description is presented in Swedish at www.karesuando.se/kdo/nordkalottleden.htm.